Today students in grade 7 met in self-selected groups based on the following categories: fantasy, the Divergent series, graphic novels, Percy Jackson, and realistic fiction. As I stood back and watched the groups engage in their discussions, I was encouraged by the buzz in the room. Every group exhibited a charge of sorts as students talked with each other. Some students said they would want to stay together but many others said they preferred to change on a daily basis. The grade 6 students weren't able to get themselves in groups that made sense to them and to me. So, we have postponed making any changes for another time.
As I walked around today, I heard my grade 7 students remind each other to comment on what someone else had shared before moving forward. I heard authentic conversations among kids about books. I saw kids cover their ears as others shared spoilers from books they have yet to read. And, I observed some kids standing back looking sullen or disinterested. I don't expect perfection or total buy-in. Nevertheless, there has been progress. This little experiment is working.
I will keep watching, listening, asking.
Next time, I will bring my students voices to the fore to share their perspective on this new modality in our classroom.
Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers