Series Engaging ELLs in Academic Conversations: Academic Discussions: Analyzing Complex Texts


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-\x80\x9312
  • 6:  6th Grade
  • 1a: 
    Engage effectively in a range of collaborative
    discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacherled)
    with diverse partners on grade 6 topics,
    texts, and issues, building on others'\x80\x99 ideas and
    expressing their own clearly.

    a. Come to discussions prepared, having read or
    studied required material; explicitly draw on
    that preparation by referring to evidence on
    the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on
    ideas under discussion.

    b. Follow rules for collegial discussions, set
    specific goals and deadlines, and define
    individual roles as needed.

    c. Pose and respond to specific questions with
    elaboration and detail by making comments
    that contribute to the topic, text, or issue
    under discussion.

    d. Review the key ideas expressed and
    demonstrate understanding of multiple
    perspectives through reflection and

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Academic Discussions: Analyzing Complex Texts

Lesson Objective: Work in small groups to discuss a text
Grades 6-8 / ELA / ELL


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does Ms. Groves support English Language Learners?
  2. What are the benefits of using the "Talking Rocks" strategy?
  3. How do students use talk moves in their discussions?


  • Private message to elizabeth gonzalez

This teacher is awesome. I love her idea of Do now's. She is awesome at giving children feedback and how she keeps encouraging them.

Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Roderick Prior

This was a very insightful video into a well-structured and modeled lesson plan. I enjoyed the strategies of Do-Now and Exit sheets to clarify and review for students what is expected of them--a great model of accountability in an academic setting! Thanks for sharing! 

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  • Private message to Elizabeth Lopez

Ms. Groves supports English Language Learners by instructional scaffolding. She builds on students' knowledge as they are learning the new skills of reading, writing, and speaking the English Language. I loved the idea of Do Now sheet to provide students with expectations of group discussions. The students used their own words and evidence from the text to explain their thoughts. The Talk Moves helped them discuss further by adding to other student's response. Finally, the Exit Ticket helped the students assess their challenges, goals, and recognition of peers. I enjoyed and learned a great strategy from observing this video. 

Recommended (1)
  • Private message to Jennifer Monje

Very interesting texts,thank you so much for the great examples

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  • Private message to Kyrstin Stehle
The use of the exit ticket really allows students to reflect on their learning.
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  • Academic Discussions: Analyzing Complex Texts Transcript

    +++ 00:00:09 +++
    Tamica Groves: Thank you everyone who came in quietly and got started

    Academic Discussions: Analyzing Complex Texts Transcript

    +++ 00:00:09 +++
    Tamica Groves: Thank you everyone who came in quietly and got started on the Do Now right away.
    Academic Discussions:
    Analyzing Nonfiction Texts
    Tamica Groves: Good afternoon, boys and girls.
    Students: Good afternoon, Miss Groves.
    Tamica Groves: Thank you.
    Lower Third
    Tamica Groves
    8th Grade English Teacher
    Westlake Middle School, Oakland, CA
    Tamica Groves: My name is Tamica Groves and I teach an ELD class at Westlake Middle School. It's a class with students who are developing and learning English as their second language.
    Tamica Groves: Can I have a volunteer to read the directions for today's Do Now? Let's hear from Julia.

    +++ 00:00:37 +++
    Student: Review the following expectations from the discussion quiz checklist. Highlight areas where you can improve your participation in today's academic discussion.
    Tamica Groves: Well read. Thank you.
    Tamica Groves: When students come in, they're given a Do Now sheet of paper. So the Do Now is usually reflecting on what we've learned the day before, or what I'm preparing to teach that day.
    Tamica Groves: Who can raise their hand and tell us one area they circled or highlighted or put a star in? Jei-Lin?

    +++ 00:01:09 +++
    Student: I actively listen to other speakers.
    Tamica Groves: All right. I'm glad you said that. What's an example of actively listening to other speakers? Jesus?
    Student: You listen to the person that is talking.
    Tamica Groves: Exactly. How do I know if Jei-Lin is actively listening? What does that look like?
    Student: By looking eye to eye.
    Tamica Groves: Hello. What else?
    Student: And they are not talking.
    Tamica Groves: So you're looking eye to eye, one person is talking. And we talked last time about also leaning in, so you can see, oh, she's leaning in, she's listening.

    +++ 00:01:43 +++
    Tamica Groves: After we shared out the Do Now, I go to the learning target and we read the learning target for the day.
    Tamica Groves: This is another opportunity for someone who hasn't said something yet to read an idea from the board.
    Tamica Groves: For the students, it's just so they know what we're focusing on, what we're learning, and, you know, we try to kind of tap into it with the Do Now and then wrap around again with the exit ticket.
    Tamica Groves: All right, Leng-ching.
    Student: I can set goals and reflect on my education.
    Tamica Groves: Academic.
    Students: Academic discussion participation.
    Tamica Groves: One, two, three.
    Students: Yes.

    +++ 00:02:16 +++
    Tamica Groves: All right, are we ready?
    Tamica Groves: Over the course of the week, we had read and researched about Siddhartha's journey to becoming the Buddha, so they had read and highlighted information and then used that to answer the discussion questions.
    Tamica Groves: Just a quick review. Once you get together with your groups, remember that the person holding the rock has a turn to speak or pass.
    Tamica Groves: The talking rock is the sacred tool. And I think it's just the idea that having something in their hand that lets them know who should be speaking at that time and the expectation that whoever doesn't have the rock should be listening.

    +++ 00:02:50 +++
    Tamica Groves: Let's see which groups can move their desks so they're perfectly round, together, so you can see and hear everyone in your group. Please do that now.
    Common Core Standards
    Close reading and analysis of non-fiction text
    Tamica Groves: I use common core in the planning of the lesson, first having the academic discussion.
    Common Core Standards
    Academic discussion using text-based evidence

    +++ 00:03:06 +++
    Tamica Groves: And they read a nonfiction text that they had to do several close reading of. And the questions they're asking to analyze what happened, thinking about whether they agree or disagree, and not just close ended questions. I'm kind of pushing myself to ask questions that require more than just one right response. And using evidence from the text, in their own words, to back up what they said.

    +++ 00:03:30 +++
    Student: Remember the legend of Siddhartha's birth. Which part of the story do you find most interesting or unbelievable? Why?

    Student: The story said the flowers come from the sky. That is unbelievable because flowers don't fall from the sky.
    Student: I want to add on because the most thing are interesting and unbelievable is Siddhartha talked and walked when he is a baby, because I never see a baby talk and walk like this.

    +++ 00:04:03 +++
    Student: I got the same answer.
    Tamica Groves: Okay, so what about if you look up here at the Talk Moves. Would you say that again, using that top one?
    Student: I have a connection to what she said, Beyana.
    Tamica Groves: Better.
    Tamica Groves: We've looked at Talk Moves quite a few times and clarifying questions.
    Discussion 'Talk Moves'
    I agree with what ______ said, because...
    I want to add on to what ______ said. I think that...
    I disagree with _______ because...
    I have a connection to what _____ said...
    Tamica Groves: Like adding on to what people say, asking someone, can they repeat that? Agreeing and disagreeing. Asking for connections. I feel like they give them a good starting point.

    +++ 00:04:30 +++
    Tamica Groves: I like that everyone's sharing their ideas, but make sure like how Michael responded to someone else, I want to hear Talk Move too, okay?
    Tamica Groves: These kids come to me and they want to learn to read and write and speak English with so much of who they are. However, I saw resistance in the beginning for them to talk. Just hesitance to speak whole group, or even with partners, in English.
    Student: I think that their trip was important because he learned about death. If before that you do many good things, people will remember you forever.

    +++ 00:05:05 +++
    Tamica Groves: Can I say something? You guys are still doing an excellent job and I love how we all have our ideas out on our paper. Remember, you can read your idea, or you can just say it, because sometimes it might be easier for you to just say, "Oh, I agree, because his parents spoiled him. You don't have to read from the paper for every answer if you don't need to. But keep going.
    Student: He gave up his real life because he saw the people in the real world is suffering.

    +++ 00:05:35 +++
    Tamica Groves: Part of it's having the confidence that it's okay if they miss up, having the starters up there, so they have something to kind of lean on and a crutch.
    Student: I agree with what Debin say, because he want have a better life than he being spoiled.
    Tamica Groves: Once the discussion finishes, the students are given an exit ticket and they're given time to reflect on how their group did and how they did in the discussion.

    +++ 00:06:07 +++
    Tamica Groves: For the first idea, I want you to think about if there was something challenging about your group discussion. Was there a problem in your group?
    Exit Ticket!
    Something challenging about my group discussion was...
    I did/did not meet my goals for today's discussion because...
    I want to 'Shout Out' _______ because...
    Tamica Groves: Was it hard thinking of ideas? Then for the second idea, you're going to decide, did you meet your goals or did you not? So for example, if was doing this, I would say, "I did meet my goals for today's discussion, because I used Talk Moves, I was listening, I used evidence, I was speaking clearly."

    +++ 00:06:37 +++
    Tamica Groves: I think it just brings the lesson full circle and it holds them accountable at the end, I think, so give me the work, not only the work, but then the reflection on what they learned. And then the last part was giving a shout out or recognizing group members or people that did well.
    Student: I want to shout out all people of my groups because everyone did a good job, share our ideas and listen to other people when they're sharing.

    +++ 00:07:01 +++
    Tamica Groves: I like that his feedback was specific. He went back to the actual goals we had about listening to each other and sharing their ideas in their own words. Thanks, Debin. I want to give a shout out to everybody in this room, because you worked hard every day this week on getting the reading done, taking good notes and writing and sharing your own ideas about the text.

    +++ 00:07:21 +++
    Tamica Groves: I think that if I were to evaluate their full understanding of who Siddhartha was and his journey, they have a core understanding of who the Buddha was, as far as my first target. And then as far as the reflection and understanding the importance of an academic discussion, I'd say yeah, they got it.
    Student: I used my own words to speak and used evidence to support my ideas.
    Tamica Groves: Awesome. Great reflection.
    Student: Something challenging of my discussion was, it's hard to explain my response.

    +++ 00:07:54 +++
    Tamica Groves: Yeah, I'm sure it is. So you have this idea in your head and you want to explain it in English, right? It's hard. Thank you for sharing a challenge, Jei-Lin. And you've gotten so much better for this school year, you have.

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School Details

Westlake Middle School
2629 Harrison Street
Oakland CA 94612
Population: 455

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