Frameworks for Discussion

Framework for English Language Arts Text-Based Discussions

(By: Janine Certo)

-Identify goals and instructional model
Focuses teachers’ attention to instructional elements (the content and focus).
Varies according to goals and instructional model. (whole-class novel discussion, small group discussion, small-group peer-led discussion, book club, literature circles, instructional conversations, etc.)
-Model reading and discussion behaviors
-Provide brief, explicit instruction as needed
-Prepare students for discussion

Scaffold students’ initial discussions

Use writing as a way to remember better what was read, to reflect on and communicate literary understanding, and to ensure wider participation.

Model how to read and to prepare for discussion.

Provide examples and model a discussion strategy.

Post interpretative strategies in the classroom.

Provide brief focus lessons based on observation.

Students read and note questions, observations, and connections in reading log or other writing tool.

Initiate, Sustain
& Transfer

-Release responsibility for discussion to students
Enhance conceptual understanding through group discussion & sharing:
· Share initial impressions after reading
· Ask and encourage authentic questions, especially those of a high cognitive level.
· Go beyond initial impressions in order to rethink, develop, and enrich understanding
· Make connections within and across texts
· Consider multiple perspectives within the text and across the groups of readers
· Reflect on alternative interpretations and critique or support them
Prompt social interaction until students gain expertise in the cognitive and communicative processes.

Throughout, teacher initiates and sustains discussions.
· Ask and encourage authentic questions, especially those of a high cognitive level.
· Provide uptake (a question building on a previous answer).
· Provide and encourage elaboration.
· Encourage students to visit old topics, make linkages between topics, and embed topics within one another.
Probe initial understandings: Students share initial interpretations, questions, connections to prior knowledge and experiences, drawing on what they have written. Teachers or students ask authentic questions that encourage students to ponder their own responses and concerns.
Develop interpretations: Teachers or students ask authentic questions that move students to deeper and more reasoned responses.

Reflect on personal experiences: Teachers or students ask authentic questions that help students make connections between the text and their personal knowledge and experience—rethink current or previous understandings, feelings or questions.

Elaborate and extend interpretations: Eventually, teachers and students can encourage one another to:
· analyze, evaluate, argue and defend.
· compare the selection with other selections.
· compare their own understandings with others’ interpretations.
· use literary elements to extend meaning.
· do a critical analysis of the selection.
-Reflect on the discussion

-Assess what students are learning from discussions

Encourage democratic support, or classroom talk characteristic of collaborative problem-solving and student decision-making.

Let students elaborate on answers and incorporate new ideas from the discussion.

Debrief on discussion orally or through writing.
· How did the discussion go?
· What did you learn new from the discussion?
· Are you thinking about anything differently as a result of the discussion?
· Did anyone say something interesting in the discussion?
Adapted from:
Certo, J. (2010). Framework for ELA Text-Based Discussions.
Word Doc file -

Classroom Resource for Literature or Text-Based Discussion
Bookmarks - Taking a Stance
PDF File -