do we prepare teachers to lead student-centered, text-based discussions
in their classrooms?
of literature relies heavily on the use of classroom discussion, yet
good discussions don't "just happen." There is a tremendous
amount of preparation involved for both teachers and students to create
the conditions for engaged discussions of literary texts. For
the past few years, my colleagues and I have been experimenting with
a variety of ways of helping students learn more about how to create
these conditions in their own classrooms.
The materials of secondary English teacher Yvonne Divans Hutchinson, "A
Friend of Their Minds: Capitalizing on the Oral Tradition of My African
American Students," have helped us to provide our students
with an image of an experienced practitioner leading a very engaged
discussion around text. The website has also provided access to the
many materials and tools Hutchinson used (including using an anticipation
guide, modeling metacognitive marking, and establishing norms for discussion)
to prepare students for the discussion featured on her website. In
these ways, the materials make the practice of leading rich discussions
much more visible to novices.