Speaking Volumes: How to Get Students Discussing Books- And Much More

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Are the literature discussions in your classes a one-way conversation where you do all the talking? Or are they dominated by a small cadre of big talkers? No matter why book talk needs enlivening, Barry Gilmore has a simple, ready-to-implement solution that will grab your students' attention, energize their exchanges, and help them find their speaking voices.

In Speaking Volumes, Gilmore offers accessible, classroom-tested, and matter-of-fact techniques grounded in the idea that literary conversations thrive when students can connect their interests and beliefs to what they're reading. Gilmore's ideas for new, unusual, and original models for engaged discussion are easy to reproduce and use, and they get results. Speaking Volumes includes:

  • numerous sample activities based on commonly taught literature
  • quotations, prompts, and reproducible surveys to help you open, focus, or plan a discussion
  • teacher-friendly uses for technology that stimulate conversations
  • activities that connect ideas from books to current events and issues
  • detailed follow-ups to help you assess what a book discussion has contributed to students' understanding.
The ideas in Speaking Volumes don't require a curricular overhaul, and its simple, effective techniques for increasing student involvement will soon become an organic part of your instructional style. Read it, and get ready to find out what your classes really have to say.

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Editorial Reviews

Gilmore provides practical, hands-on methods to involve students in oral and written classroom conversations that encourage reflection and ultimately polished, coherent expression. Combining traditional texts that include Greek and Shakespearean plays and modern novels such as The Giver (Houghton, 1993/VOYA August 1993), The Tortilla Curtain (Viking, 1995), and The Shipping News (Scribner, 1993), this talented teacher skillfully focuses on themes that join the excitement and relevance of classical and modern works. Attitude surveys and opinion grids provide opportunities for structured verbal and physical responses. The fishbowl relies on spontaneous conversation in response to prompts and combines patience with a tag-team format. Grouping, circles, fast writing, and pass-arounds facilitate brainstorming. "Big Paper" allows participation through wall posters, compass, and jigsaw formats, as well as advertisements, and encourages the combining of voices. Many methods go high tech in the "Technology" chapter and intensify student and teacher exchange while extending the student conversation to other classrooms. Gilmore's students also learn formal discussion and debate. This full experience helps both student and teacher formulate appropriate responses for diverse communication situations. Chapter seven provides samples for the discussion leader. The appendix keys these activities to English standards and pairs activities with texts. The back cover lists general principles for leading discussions. Although Gilmore explains his techniques in an English classroom context, his methods reach across the curriculum. Both new and seasoned discussion leaders will want a copy for repeated reference. 2006, Heinemann, 144p.; Appendix., pb. Ages adult professional.
—Lucy Schall
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325009155
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 1/24/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 1,480,242
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Gilmore, Ed.D., taught English and social studies for over 15 years before becoming a middle school principal in Memphis, TN. Barry is a National Board Certified teacher and Past-President of the Tennessee Council of Teachers of English. As the author of seven books for teachers and numerous articles on topics ranging from the common core to plagiarism and classroom discussion methods, he regularly presents his teaching ideas to groups around the country. Gilmore has received numerous honors for his teaching, including the NCTE's Outstanding High School Educator Award, the U.S. Department of Education's American Star of Teaching Award, and the Tennessee Holocaust Commission's Educator of the Year. Barry Gilmore is a Heinemann Professional Development provider
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Before you begin : goals and strategies 1
Ch. 2 Lines 6
Ch. 3 Circles 20
Ch. 4 Big paper 36
Ch. 5 Technology 52
Ch. 6 Formal discussion and debate 81
Ch. 7 For further discussion 96
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