- Choose four central texts on the same theme. Compose a question related to the theme.
- Put up four pieces of blank chart paper, each in a different part of the room.
- Write the theme and question on each of the four blank chart papers.
- Form four heterogeneous groups and assign each group a different text. To scaffold this activity, use the same text with all four groups the first few times you use this strategy.
- Provide time for each group to read the text aloud together. One or more skilled readers should fluently read the text aloud to the group, while the other group members follow along, reading silently in their heads.
- Provide time for each group to discuss the text with a specific focus on the theme and how the author conveys his or her message throughout the text.
- Share with students the question that will appear on the chart paper. Again, provide time for each group to discuss how they would answer this question in light of their particular text.
- Direct each team to select a recorder and move to one of the four blank chart papers.
- If using different texts, give each group a different colored marker. Have each group record the title and author of the assigned text on the chart paper.
- Ask each group to respond to the question on the chart paper using textual evidence from their particular text. Their answer does not need to be in complete sentences, but it should include page numbers from the text. If they finish answering this question, they should record as many text details associated with the theme that they can think of. Give the groups approximately 3-5 minutes.
- Rotate groups to the next chart paper. Remind student recorders to keep the color marker as teams rotate.
- Have students record the title and author of their assigned text on the new chart paper.
- Give students 2-3 minutes to read the chart and discuss how the previous groups’ statements connect to their text. They should add any new thoughts about the theme to the chart paper.
- Continue the rotation until teams return to their original chart paper.
- When teams return to their original chart, provide 3-4 minutes for them to, as a group, review thoughts that have been added by the other groups: students read, think and discuss information on chart paper as a team. After reviewing the chart, allow teams to add any new ideas to their original chart, including questions to other groups’ contributions.
- Have teams reread and revisit their original ideas about the text.
- Give teams a few minutes of talk time to reevaluate original thoughts about the theme the knowledge they’ve gained from the other groups and from re-reading the assigned text.
- Bring the whole class back together and debrief.
English language learners
Connection to anti-bias education
Brain Share promotes inclusive class discussions of social justice issues. Students use the texts as a springboard for listening and speaking, and for making connections to themselves, their community and the world.
Sample Brain Share activity:
This is an example of the Brain Share strategy applied to the theme “bullying and cliques.”
- Create four chart papers and post around the room.
- Ask students: What in the text feels like bullying?
- Instruct students to add comments to the chart paper for the text assigned to their group.
- Pause after the first step to talk about each group’s thoughts.
- When students are ready, have them rotate to the next chart and have students make a connection to the previous comments. After four rounds, one chart might look like this: