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Dedicated to Teachers

Online PLC: Authentic Group Discussion with Cris Tovani


Heinemann Professional Development is excited to continue our Online PLC (professional learning community) as we get back in the swing of school this fall. Look for new content each week and join in the conversation! This week, we take a look at Cris Tovani's work with students and authentic, small group conversation about books.

Can we really get our learners to read closely, note their thinking, and defend their perspectives to peers?

Watch this video of Cris Tovani’s students in action to see what it can look like and sound like when students engage in conversation around text. It is clear that the purpose and protocols of small group conversation have been both in place and in practice in their learning environment.

Wistia video thumbnail - Adolescent Reading Rx - Cris Tovani's Students at Work

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This video clip is sampled from the On-Demand Course Adolescent Reading RX: What to Try When Teen Readers Can't or Won't instructed by Cris Tovani and Samantha Bennett.

This group of five students displayed numerous skills: active listening, minding the give-and-take of conversation, respectfully disagreeing with opinions, finding text-based evidence to support their claims, using conversation to synthesize meaning. All in just over three minutes.

Just before this clip, Cris asked her students to read and annotate the first few pages of the chapter “Spin” in The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Take a look below at one of the student’s annotations, which helped fuel the student discussion. If you read ahead in this post, be sure to watch the video clip first before viewing Alex’s notes below.

Click here to download a PDF of Alex's notes.

This does not happen by accident. What types of modeling might have occurred along the way to enable to students to acquire, access and apply these skills?  Can you start with one of these in your own classroom?

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Wondering where to connect online? Start by signing up below for Heinemann's Online PLC 2015–16! Each week, we'll share content from the Heinemann Digital Library as food for thought and discussion. Our conversations can occur in comments here on the blog, on Twitter using #OnlinePLC or in our Facebook Group. Looking forward to a year of sharing content, conversation and #OnlinePLC camaraderie!

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Topics: Video, Cris Tovani, Education, Education Policy, Heinemann, PD, PLC Series, Tim O'Brien, Back to School, Professional Development, Samantha Bennett

Date Published: 10/05/15

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