#SOL15: Day 8, Magic Pebbles

On Friday, I gathered S, N, A, and P  on the carpet to talk about their club book: The Bully Book.  I wrote about this group of boys here. S and P huddled close together. N rolled from side to side on his stomach as we waited for A to come to the carpet.

They put their chosen post it’s on the “game board” they had created for book talk.  The object of the game is to choose a post-it that can be talked “long on” before moving to another.

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Each group member has a place for his post it.

They select S’s post it and begin.

“Eric is bullied by Donovan after summer camp, so this makes me think that the camp … ”

S’s words are drowned out by N. “No, he’s jealous.”

P pipes up, “Well if you, look on page…”

Three of the four boys go into a talking frenzy. No one is listening.

I call a time out. “Hey guys! You have so much to say. We need to hear all of your thoughts. So can we have a do-over?”

I show them”talking pebbles.” (Those shiny glass stones in the middle of the board above.) Captured by the potential of a new piece of the “game.” They settle, and I explain the rules. Each partner begins the with three stones. When you share a thought, you put it on the board. When you’re out, you’re done talking. Once all players have played their pieces, they start over.

We begin again.

S shares a pebble. “I think Donovan has turned against Eric because of the summer camp.”

P puts his pebble in, “It’s because he lost weight.”

N goes next, “Is Eric fat too? Is that why they were friends.”

The process continues. S, N, and P are quickly out of pebbles. They all look at A, who still holds three pebbles.

Literature is a struggle for A. His strength is informational text, when it’s right there. Emotional, inferential work makes him uncomfortable. He has to offer up three things. Fortunately, there is a post it on the board to start him off, allowing him entry. The other boys help him by pointing to thought prompts on the side of their board. They get him through, and everyone gets their talk pebbles back.

In the second round, S holds back, allowing a back and forth between him and A.

Issues in the book started to surface. A disagreement happened, and they talked it out. Patience was found by N, who has very little. S’s natural patience supported A through this talk.

The discussion ended, and they agreed to finish the book over the weekend.

I learned a lot about these boys and how they interact.  We had to work on being heard and listening before we could do anything else.

Monday will be interesting. Will they come prepared to their club meeting? Will they remember the rules and follow them? Will they walk away from the meeting with a bigger understanding? We will see.

Thanks to Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge. Read other bloggers slices here.


16 thoughts on “#SOL15: Day 8, Magic Pebbles

  1. I’m intrigued by the game board they developed. Have you written about that before? Is this something you learned about at TCRWP? That seemed like a perfect way to support the boys and the talking pebbles were just what they needed to share the conversation. Do all the groups have a game board? Great peek into this discussion!

    • YES! I got the game board idea from Shana Frazin our first (and amazing) staff developer from TCRWP, many moons ago. Thank you for asking. All clubs develop their own board. Some call it their club house. They adopt rules and sign a contract on the board. They are all unique. The pebbles aren’t necessary for all clubs only the ones who need a tool to get them listening and/or all participants talking.

  2. I like the game board as well and the use of the talking pebbles. I have done a talking stick that gets passed around but I like the three chances to share and then start again. Thanks for sharing.

  3. The game board was new to me, also! The “talking pebbles” or “talking chips” is a concept I’ve used in the past. Great way to begin working with more self-monitoring for the students. Sometimes they have to begin with the tangible before they can move on to the intrinsic goals!

    Great post – I am enjoying hearing about this group!

  4. Interesting. I have not been exposed to the board game and pebbles as a way to talk about reading. Discourse is so important. I have been experimenting lots with “Accountable Talk” and Socratic discussions. I can see how use of the board game would promote discussion. Would like to learn more.

  5. I love the structure you provided them to get through their thoughts- You stepped back with just the right amount of support for them. Would you mind if I shared this with some teachers?

  6. Once again I am drawn in to this scene. You are providing structure within choice. I like to called it controlled chaos. The boys get to share their thoughts while having a physical reminder (the pebbles) to listen, too. I suspect they will welcome the structure again.

  7. This is a great strategy for teachers who are having trouble with their kids working well in book clubs. Way to go for helping them work through this so everyone’s voice is heard. I have a feeling they may need your help with structuring their club meetings again, but I think you’re helping them on the road to indpenedence.

    • I have found when we get bigger than partnerships, it is really hard to get them all on the same page. The board or club house idea really unites them around one idea to develop it.

  8. I like the idea of the game board and how there is a place for their sticky notes. That makes sense to me. I love how you are guiding your students through their book club!!! AND guiding us through their journey! I’m learning so much!

  9. I love this idea of the gameboard, Julieanne – the way it encourages cooperation and taking turns and listening. Like Elsie, I am hoping you will write a longer post.

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