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Lesson Plan

Thoughtful Threads: Sparking Rich Online Discussions

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Thoughtful Threads: Sparking Rich Online Discussions

Grades 5 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Lotta C. Larson, Ph.D.

Lotta C. Larson, Ph.D.

Manhattan, Kansas


International Literacy Association



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From Theory to Practice



Online literature circles provide students opportunities to discuss a literary work in a forum in which each student has a voice and the chance to share ideas without being interrupted by others. In this multisession lesson, students choose a novel that will spark discussion and elicit deep literature response from a list of selected titles. Students read and discuss their chosen text online with their peers and respond to both teacher- and student-created prompts. Student-constructed quality prompts invite group members to think deeper about the literature, engage in meaningful conversation, and share multiple perspectives and unique points of view. After completing an online discussion, students review a transcript of their discussions and reflect on the value of their experience.

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  • Reading Schedule for Online Literature Circles: Students can use this reading schedule to help guide their reading for their online literature circles. Following the reading schedule will ensure that students are always prepared for their online discussions.

  • Creating Prompts: Students can use this worksheet to help them create discussion prompts that inspire their peers to respond and comment about the literary work.

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Larson, L. (2009). Reader response meets the new literacies: Empowering readers in online learning communities. The Reading Teacher, 62(8), 638648.

  • Individual readers breathe life into written text through personal meaning making and prior experiences. Online literature circles have potential for fostering literacy skills as students exchange their unique perspectives and prior experiences.

  • Online literature circles support socially constructed learning as they provide students equitable opportunities to share their thoughts and voice individual opinions without being interrupted by others.

  • When students construct their own literature discussion prompts, they encourage group members to think deeper about the literature while maintaining ownership of the conversation.

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