Collaborative conversations, text-based discussions, literature circles, Socratic seminars...these are a few of the buzz word strategies that have been used throughout the ages in order to engage students in learning. Providing opportunities for students to discuss rich fiction or expository text in a productive way is a great way to aid them in digesting the hefty standards they are expected to master. When students know they will have to discuss, they hold themselves more accountable for having something to say.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) outline the need for students to engage with text on a higher level than they have been expected to in the past in order to prepare them for college and career and for a fulfilling, productive life. The new standards are raising the bar and teachers are looking for ways to adapt their teaching practices in order to prepare students adequately.
Encourage productive conversations around learning, across the curriculum, and watch your students become more engaged and their learning increase! As a teacher it can be difficult to let go of the direction you wanted a lesson to go, but letting go just a little and letting students take an active role in their learning will pay off tremendously.