Learning tools that inspire hearts and nourish minds.

6. Glean - Discussion

Nothing fosters the higher-level thinking that allows students to form ideas and opinions about real life more than hashing through a story in a discussion circle. With weekly discussion questions built into every section of the Discovery Guide, interaction between you and your students is simple.

Each question is crafted to spark student’s memories of the story, trigger their interpretations, and get them thinking beyond the page about how a story can relate to their actual lives. In time, students who participate in a discussion circle will become excited and amazed about what they glean from books.

Usually, after working through several guides, the feedback from teacher-mentors is this, "Oh, I get it, all I have to do is read a book!" Then the conversation shifts to their sharing what they gleaned from the reading, to what they gleaned from the insights of their students, to how their language arts program has been transformed. I smile and exclaim, "Aren't books grand?"

Discussion circles can take many forms, from a one-on-one child and adult, to a group of children led by an adult. The key to the interaction is the adult participating with the child as a mentor.

Consider the following when grouping a circle:

Comfort & Size

Gathering in a comfortable area, whether in chairs, or sitting on the floor, helps set discussion time aside as special and relaxed.

Reading Ability
Clustering students with similar reading skills allows the group to coalesce. As students begin to feel comfortable with their group, even reluctant speakers will share what’s on their mind.


Having a regular, scheduled time each week helps students pace through their reading and builds anticipation.


Be inspired by student responses and guide the discussion where it wants to go naturally. Don’t worry if things get a little off track as long as students are thinking creatively.

Feel free to use the questions creatively. For example, assign each question to a different student for presentation to the group; allow two groups to take sides and debate the pros and cons of a particular question; use the questions as writing prompts for paragraphs or essays; allow students to role play their response to a question. Use your imagination. The possibilities are endless.

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