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References

Lortie, D. C. (1975). School-Teacher: A sociological study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Eric Carbaugh is an Assistant Professor of Middle and Secondary Education at James Madison University. He also travels to schools around the country to conduct differentiation of instruction workshops and in-services.

Talking in Circles

Barbara L. Moody

I am a disatisfied teacher. I love to read myself, but I do not love to teach reading. It has taken me 33 years to realize that I long for the conversations about literature. However, step-by- step, I’ve adapted satisfying lessons to fit my vision of a “rounded” grade 8 language arts pro- gram. So, how does talking fit in with reading? My challenge began with the 1980’s concept of “fishbowl activities.” Then educators added and focused into the 1990’s “literature circles.” For the present, I am experimenting with Matt Copeland’s vision described in his book, So- cratic Circles. And, like teaching itself, this step is not finished.

Over the past several years, I have made two drastic teaching decisions. The first was to in- stitute a weekly Friday Sustained Silent Reading period. On two Fridays a month my classes silently read in my classroom; the alternating Fridays, we head for the school’s library to actually read right there. My second decision, made just last year, has been to include Matt Copeland’s interpretation and description of Socratic Circles. If the SOL test scores are to be believed, these two changes have raised my classes’ average SOL test scores by a statically significant 7%.

During August of 2008, I attended a two-day workshop based upon Matt Copeland’s book, Socratic Circles. For our opening exercise, we role-played a typical class discussion of a poem - the usual fiasco of children herded together to discuss something somebody deems impor-

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