The Discussion Group strategy addresses the challenge of providing students with a broad knowledge base from a wide range of readings. Since class time is limited and individual students cannot always read the multiple source documents needed to adquately cover a topic, the Discussion Group divides the reading tasks among the students who, in turn, report their new knowledge to the group.
The Discussion Group allows for more flexibility in assigning reading selections. Students match their particular interests and reading levels with a limited number of reading selections, while still making valuable contributions to the group's learning.
Steps to Discussion Groups:
Introduce a broad topic to the class along with a collection of readings (books, magazines, newspapers, websites, etc.) related to the topic.
Ask each student to select one of the reading selections for close scrutiny. (With brief articles, you may wish to assign more than one selection.) Make sure that every student's selection matches their personal interests and reading level.
Allow students a full week to complete the reading assignment. Include some in-class time for reading. Use this time to provide personal assistance to any reader experiencing difficulty with the assignment.
Once the assignment is read, organize the class into small discussion groups of 4 to 5 students. In these groups, have each student summarize their selection, discuss the things they learned about the general topic, and chart or "map" their document's organization.
Lenski, Susan D., Wham, Mary Ann, & Johns, Jerry L. (1999). Reading and learning strategies for middle and high school students. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.