Discussion Thursday 2020

A few years ago, as my students were reading “Reading Club” style, I was so frustrated with the way that class discussions were going. It always turned into students listing fact after fact without ever listening to their classmates’ contributions to the discussion!

So I started working out the problems with an activity I call Discussion Thursday.

Discussion Thursday allowed me to step back and let STUDENTS lead our discussions of what we were reading. I was blown away by their ability to do ALLLLL the question asking and answering. I was also blown away by how much they paid attention to one another during these discussions!

So here we are… 2020… Pandemic… Hybrid… I’m teaching from home. We’re reading our first readers of the year thanks to Fluency Matters amazing ECourses and it was time for a Discussion Thursday (on Tuesday) and I was shaking in my slippers (I teach on Zoom, don’t judge).

My first hour class is so quiet. I was particularly nervous about them! Would they talk??? Well, I am proud to report that YES THEY DID! They not only asked and answered questions, they interacted with one another despite whether they were at home or on Zoom!!! I used a Zoom background with the question words and also some of our favorite discussion key phrases. (If you’d like this image, just email! I’ll send it to you!)

The kids completely led our class discussion! I heard every single voice both in class and online and all of them had great things to say about our reader. They talked about Frida Kahlo, her family, her artwork, and themselves! If you’ve hesitated to try it because you’re hybrid, I would encourage you to give it a go! I felt happier than I have ALL YEAR getting to hear from everyone! Still a lot of dark cameras but the voices were there and were evidence they ARE learning in spite of some less than ideal circumstances!

I’m proud of all of you for being out there, in the classroom, teaching students. Thank you, thank you, thank you for loving them and helping them love language even when nobody loves the situation we are in.

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at gmail.com.

14 thoughts

  1. I would like a copy of the image. Do you present the topic that same day and discuss? I’m not sure if this relates to a story book or just a regular topic. I teach high school and my students seldom contribute.

  2. I love this idea! I am teaching level 3 this year and am looking for more ways for them to interact virtually. I would love a copy of the key phrases could you please email me: sgreene5@wcpss.net

  3. Would you please share your zoom discussion Thursday slide. Thank you –

    Bethany Pflug

    On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 9:39 PM Somewhere to Share wrote:

    > senoracmt posted: ” A few years ago, as my students were reading “Reading > Club” style, I was so frustrated with the way that class discussions were > going. It always turned into students listing fact after fact without ever > listening to their classmates’ contributions to the” >

  4. Hola Carrie, Thank you for your inspiring post. If you are still willing to share the virtual background you made, I would love to use it. Muchas gracias, Sally Denbeaux

    On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 10:39 PM Somewhere to Share wrote:

    > senoracmt posted: ” A few years ago, as my students were reading “Reading > Club” style, I was so frustrated with the way that class discussions were > going. It always turned into students listing fact after fact without ever > listening to their classmates’ contributions to the” >

  5. Please share the zoom background

    Thank you very much

    On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 7:39 PM Somewhere to Share wrote:

    > senoracmt posted: ” A few years ago, as my students were reading “Reading > Club” style, I was so frustrated with the way that class discussions were > going. It always turned into students listing fact after fact without ever > listening to their classmates’ contributions to the” >

  6. Hello Carrie, I would love a copy of the Zoom background that you used for “Discussion Thursday”. I really appreciate all of the materials that you share!

    Have a great day, Alyssa

    Alyssa Crawford Fifth Grade Spanish Immersion Teacher Miscoe Hill School a: 148 North Avenue, Mendon, MA 01756 e: acrawford@mursd.org

    Get a signature like this!

    On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 10:39 PM Somewhere to Share wrote:

    > senoracmt posted: ” A few years ago, as my students were reading “Reading > Club” style, I was so frustrated with the way that class discussions were > going. It always turned into students listing fact after fact without ever > listening to their classmates’ contributions to the” >

  7. Hi Carrie,

    Yes, please send me the question frame. Thank you so much for all of your insights.

    Valene

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  8. Please send the discussion frame slide! I love the utility & simplicity!

    Side Note: I teach MS Spanish but also have two teenagers of my own (both of whom I taught in Spanish I) – 1 graduated from HS last year and is taking a pre-college gap year (due to Covid) and the other is in 11th-grade. Over the years, they have been my “testers” for every new Spanish novel I purchase and they LOVE your books most of all! In fact, my daughter and I are currently reading “48 Horas” – we usually read 2 chapters at a time, because she’s busy with her own schoolwork and life, but we often read 3-4 at a time in this one because she wants to know what happens (2 more chapters to go). Thanks for producing such great stuff!

  9. Hi Carrie – I would love to learn more about the discussion questions/phrases you have helped them kickstart with. I am feeling totally overwhelmed by the silent Zoom stares!

  10. Hi Carrie –
    This is a light at the end of the a LONG tunnel. My 3rd year students are reluctant Zoom speakers so this Fall has been super challenging. I’m thinking of moving into small-group Zoom mode. I would love to know more about how you set them up for success with your discussion kickstart questions. Could you write about post about this scaffolding for virtual classes? Thank you!

  11. Hi Carrie – love this idea! Please share the Zoom background with me. I am hopeful that it will start to break open the silent Zoom boxes I stare at so often…

Leave a Reply