As a member of this Online Book Club, you are expected to post to the book blog at least once per week between now and July 11 -- that's six weeks. You should finish your book before then, and you will meet during the Institute in your groups to extend the discussion and plan how to present the book to the others in the Institute.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Value of Discussion and Discourse in the Literature Classroom

Chapter 4, Authentic Listening and Speaking, resonates with me a great deal. I've been a proponent of Harkness discussions since 2010 and I wouldn't run my classroom any other way. Sonia's experience on pages 99-105 are a testament to this process. I can share the same experience as Sonia. Repeatedly students give me feedback once they're in college that they felt completely prepared for classroom discussion as a result of the format of my class. The discussions build confidence in their own opinions, teach them how to back up their opinion with textual evidence, foster good listening and speaking skills, and so much more.

Sonia offers good advice on how to start training students on seminar-type discussion formats. She offers excellent advice particularly for incoming freshmen who are likely not accustomed to discussion format. I particularly like her "Sentence Starters." It's also important to have students prep for discussions, so she offers the Socratic Seminar Prep Guide. I do something similar, but I have students keep notes in what I call a "daybook," which is essentially a dialectical journal to capture quotations and thoughts on the reading.

I encourage anyone who hasn't tried Socratic or Harkness discussions in his or her classroom to give it a shot. It takes a lot of modeling and patience to get the engine running, so to speak, but it's well worth it in the end.

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