How to Start a High School Literature Discussion GroupJanelle Knutson
I loved homeschooling my oldest child through high school. She is an avid reader who enjoys lively discussions about the books she reads. As a mom to seven children, I didn’t have the time to read every book she did nor did I have the time to discuss each book in depth with her. That is why the literature discussion group she participated in was such a blessing. It provided an opportunity for her to analyze each book and discuss it with peers. Plus it was also a great opportunity to spend time with friends.
Perhaps your teen would benefit from a literature discussion group as well. Here are five steps to starting your own high school literature discussion group.
1. Gather a Group of Friends
Make a list of friends and acquaintances that might be interested in participating in a discussion group. You don’t have to limit it to homeschoolers. Friends from church who are in public school can benefit from the literature discussion group as well. Decide how many people you want in the group and start inviting them. We found that four to six students provided a vibrant discussion and allowed everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts.
2. Choose a Location and Time
It is important to find a time and location that is convenient for as many people as possible. You want the kids to show up and participate. Think about how often you’d like the group to meet. Will the students be discussing each chapter of the book or waiting to meet until the entire book has been read? They can meet weekly or monthly depending on how much of the book needs to be completed before each meeting. It is a good idea to find a location that doesn’t have a lot of distractions.
- someone’s home
- your local library
- a quiet park
3. Select Books to Read
Allow the students to help choose the book selections. You want them to be excited about reading and analyzing the literary works. It might be wise to assign one or two parents to oversee the final book selection. If your child’s literature group is having a hard time coming up with literature selections, then check out this list of must read books for high schoolers.
4. Drive Discussion with the Socratic Method
The Socratic method begins with questions that foster critical thinking and help the student learn how to articulate their own viewpoint. Teens are taught how to think instead of what to think. This type of discussion gives a student a chance to hone observation, deduction, and evaluation skills.
The Socratic method focuses on six types of questions.
- Questions for clarification
- Questions that probe assumptions
- Questions that probe reasons and evidence
- Questions about viewpoints and perspectives
- Questions that probe consequences
- Questions about the original question
Having a parent or other adult facilitate the discussions in the beginning can be helpful. It gives the teens time to learn the Socratic method and to practice their critical thinking skills before taking over the discussions themselves. If you need assistance in facilitating group discussions you can use one of the literature guides from Bright Ideas Press.
5. Prepare a Report or Oral Presentation
It can be beneficial to have each student prepare a report or oral presentation after completing each literature selection. This offers them another opportunity to analyze the literary work and articulate their own viewpoint in a concise manner. Students can read their reports out loud to the group and ask for feedback or prepare an oral presentation to share with the group. If the literature discussion group is being used for high school credit then a report or oral presentation can be used in computing a grade.
A literature discussion group is a great way for teens to read and analyze great works of literature. Has your high school student participated in a literature discussion group?