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Books in Translation

On the Road to Common Core State Standards
July 19, 2012 | Volume 7 | Issue 21
Table of Contents 

Pinwheel Discussions

Texts in Conversation



The National Teacher of the Year for 2010, Sarah Brown Wessling, describes her formula for great literary discussions in her 12th grade English language arts classroom.

Students seated in a pinwheel formation take turns answering questions as authors of one of three texts, while a student designated as "provocateur" makes sure the conversation keeps flowing. Taking on the authors’ personas allows students to analyze the texts a little bit more fearlessly, says Wessling.

Prior to these pinwheel discussions, students receive a minilesson on how to construct the text-dependent questions that will fuel their discussions. As students rotate through the pinwheel, Wessling keeps a tally of instances of certain discussion skills she's looking for (posing follow-up questions, making connections, citing textual evidence, and generating new ideas).

Like all lessons archived in Teaching Channel's Common Core category, the Common Core State Standards linked to this lesson are clearly referenced on the video's landing page.

Source: From Pinwheel Discussions: Texts in Conversation, by Teaching Channel, 2012.


ASCD Express, Vol. 7, No. 21. Copyright 2012 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit


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