I posted a while back about assigning reading for homework and ensuring that students actually do the reading. I wanted to get away from short quizzes and things like that, and someone (I forget who!) suggested using Harkness discussion. I started doing it with two of my classes, and the results have been amazing! We are reading The Great Gatsby. The book is fairly short, and compared to other texts we read, high interest and accessible reading level. Every other chapter we listen to the audio recording as a class, and they independently read the other chapters. The next class period, we have a class discussion over what happened. I rearranged my desks so that the center has a big group of desks making a long line down the middle with rows on the side. It looks like an airplane (group is the body) with three wings (the rows). I made a seating chart. I grade their discussions with a simple key by writing on the seating chart. I draw a line mapping who speaks to whom, and add notes like a star for something insightful, a check for referencing the text, and an X for rude or off topic comments. The students LOVE that they can see how their discussion went that day. In one of my classes, it's going pretty well. The students are definitely reading and referencing the text. They have a hard time actually discussing with each other and basically take turns making their point. They are making thoughtful points and referencing the text. But in my other class- WOW. They are learning SO much and really digging into the text. Here are some examples of things students did entirely on their own: Students analyzed Fitzgerald's use of punctuation to figure out if a comment Gatsby made was intentionally rude or just awake. Daisy makes a comment about "pink clouds". Students discussed the imagery of pink clouds, and determined that even though clouds represent something being "stormy", calling the clouds pink makes them think that the clouds stand for imagination/daydreaming, and the "weird" comment represents Daisy's fantasies of Gatsby. Students discussed how much of Gatsby's self esteem comes from Daisy's view of him, pointing of several instances in the text (even subtle ones I hadn't noticed!) in which Gatsby seems to need Daisy's approval. They discussed how the setting (party at Nick's house vs. Party at Gatsby's house) impacted the way the Daisy and Gatsby interacted. Overall, I'm so impressed at their discussions. Students are so excited to see their grade. I usually grade them in 1-2 mintues after the discussion ends and show them after class, but one day I didn't. I had 4 students come to my classroom at the end of the day to see how they did. For reference, last semester, 1/3 of my students either failed or barely passed. Anyways, I just wanted to share!