Student Centered Literature Discussions with TQE

Saturday, November 3, 2018

I recently listened to this podcast from Cult of Pedagogy, which was about the TQE strategy developed by Marisa Thompson, who wrote a blog post about it here. 

I was inspired to try TQE in my classroom and I have to tell you that I am loving it so far! I highly recommend that you start with the experts, by checking out the links above.  Below is a brief description of the strategy and explanation of how it is working for my class so far! We are currently using TQE as a strategy for our daily reading of the graphic novel March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis.  I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, and/or suggestions in the comment section below. 

What is TQE? 

TQE is a method for student-centered discussion around a text. The acronym stands for Thought, Question, Epiphany. Students are asked to read a text and generate lingering thoughts, critical thinking questions, and epiphanies. Students are encouraged to dig deeply into the text to ask questions or have revelations about the themes, symbolism, author's craft, or other literary analysis.  See Marisa Thompson's original blog post for how she teaches this part. This is the type of strategy that is best when used repeatedly across a whole unit. With experience, students get better at the initial thinking and questioning as well as the discussion portion. 

Step 1: Have students read a chapter or section and come to class with Thoughts, Questions, or Epiphanies about the text.  

This step is important because it de-centers the teacher as the holder of knowledge and worthy questioning.  With guidance, students become the center of learning and discussion. 

Step 2: Have small groups meet to share and discuss their TQEs, picking 2 to share with the class. 

I have wipeboards and whiteboards around the room for each group to write their TQEs. During the discussion that follows, we are literally surrounded by student-driven topics. The small groups give students a place to answer points of plot clarification and discern the best topics for an overall discussion. 

Step 3: Have a Socratic seminar-style discussion about the student-generated thoughts, questions, and epiphanies. 

In the seminar, we have been focusing on: 1. Developing the argument, 2. Adding textual evidence. 3. Providing Counterarguments, 4. Connecting to historical and current events, and 5. Analyzing the author's purpose. 

Step 4: Use student-centered discussion topics as the basis for critical writing assignments.

I love the ownership that TQE offers to students and the transformation of the role of the teacher from lecturer to coach. What do you think? 

1 comment

  1. I can't wait to try this with OM&M this semester! I listened to the podcast and read Marisa Thompson's blog post about it, and it sounds amazing. The only thing I am having trouble with is how to assess students (especially large classes). In the podcast she mentioned having a clipboard with a seating chart on it and crossing off students as they contribute, but I don't understand the logistics of it. Does she do that during the small or large group discussions? Both? Thoughts?