Amplifying Learning Opportunities- Part III of Literature Circles

In Part 1 of Literature Circle Discussions, I shared 6th Grade Humanities teacher, Emily Vallillo‘s well structured and organized Literature Circle lesson. In Part 2, I shared the upgrade of traditional lit circles to a new learnflow which included filming the discussion to annotexting the film with behavior’s observed and metacognitive reflections on student blogfolios.

DUE to the sharing of their work on their blogfolios and the dissemination on Langwitches blog as well as via my network on Twitter the learnflow did not stop, a new learning opportunity arose, when Author, founder and co-director of  Habits of Mind, Bena Kallick made contact.

Students and teachers are getting a taste of and are being reminded that learning in a connected world is never over… The simple fact of documenting and taking the time to publish “what we are doing in class”… is connecting us to a world of learning opportunities.


We arranged a Skype visit. In order to prepare for the call, students learned about the author by researching the Internet and set up different jobs they were responsible for during the video conference.


  • Videographer (recording Skype call)
  • photographer (taking visual notes with images)
  • Official Scribe (official note taker of Skype conversation)
  • Speakers (introduction, keep the flow of conversation going)
  • Note Takers (taking individual notes for themselves)
  • Live Blogger (create a post for the classroom blog)


We looked at our objectives for the Skype call

  • Awareness that sharing with a global audience amplifies learning opportunities
  • Learning and information do not only come from texts and books
  • Metacognition of learning habits
  • Connections to own work
  • Communication skills
  • Collaboration skills
  • Note taking skills
  • Awareness and modeling of network, media, global and information literacy

skype-bena-kallick-flip camera

Agenda for Skype Call

  1. Introduction
  2. Students explain their work in literacy circles, process of creating the video and annotexting.
  3. Bena talks about how she found out about students’ work about Literacy Circles. How she made connections to her own work
  4. What are habits of Minds? How are they related to learning targets?
  5. Q & A


While the different stages of the Literature circle work were part of the learnflow,

  • lit circle discussion>
  • filming >
  • annotexting>
  • reflecting >
  • sharing >
  • disseminating>
  • receiving feedback >
  • making connections>
  • Skype call


I observed the students’ workflow in the classroom:

  • Speakers were in charge of introducing our school and talking with our expert. They had been prepared with the agenda of the skype call
  • A collaborative Google Doc had been shared with all the students to add questions that they had for the expert. One student, sitting next to the speakers was in charge of keeping up with the incoming questions and speaking to the expert during Q& A time.  He marked already asked questions and selected best suited questions from the growing list on the document.
  • A Live Blogger was in charge of preparing a post on the classroom blog. He was to incorporate images from the photographer and video segments, once the video was edited.


After the call was over, we realized that we had much information about the call “stored”in different places as well as as different media. Our job was to figure out HOW to CONNECT the different types of information.

  • in our brains
  • on the Flip camera
  • images on our phones and iPads
  • on a Google Doc (Official Scribe)
  • on the classroom blog (Live Blogger)
  • on individual notes (note takers)
  • on a collaborative Google Doc

The Official Scribe documented the Skype call. See a sample below:

Bena – “What kind of questions do you ask at the circles?
Brenna – “Clarifying questions and Deep Discussion

Bena – How does that extra person help? The person taking notes in the discussion.
Maya – At the end of the discussion, they tell us what we do well on, what we should improve, what they liked about the discussion.

Bena – Are you using Habits of Mind? I think it would help sort of, help you guys to discover new things.
No, but I think we might start to.

Where did you get the idea of habits of mind? And When did you make it?
Bena – “I had the idea since I worked with my partner, and we started looking at all those different ways to think like in those literature circles. All of those skills like comparing and contrasting. Disposition for thinking – not only do you know how to compare + contrast but you dare to do so disposition attitude are called habits of mind. Listening is a habit of mind and empathy, because you are not just going to say something, but you ask questions and try to understand the points of view.” “When I hear another person’s perspective, you try to understand – Helping your mind be as flexible as possible”

Why did you choose us?
Bena – “You are special. I was interested in what you guys were doing. Since I was following Mrs. Tolisano, I saw it. I wanted to bring Habits of Mind to your work, so you don’t just use ordinary skills, but you understand them. I skyped with other classes. What makes you special, is that you guys brought in technology.”

Can we have this for other subjects?
Bena – “Habits of mind are beyond any of the areas. You can use it for any area and even outside school. I worked with students working with habits of mind, some people started getting bored at a party, and they thought flexibly and used skills. I hope you can bring them everywhere. Where would you get it? Bring it to some of your classes and show them about it.”

Have all your books been about habits of mind?
Bena – “They have been about educational things. Not all habits of mind, but all about how to think and ways of thinking. Higher level thinking is how the world is right now. You are asking good questions which is a habit of mind. Communication, which you guys are doing. From Mrs. Tolisano, I noticed you guys work hard, and maybe you can start mapping things out. I have co authored all my books 16! Thinking collaboratively, is also a habit which is why I worked with a partner.”

As part of the debriefing, students contributed a short “One Thing I Remember…” ( here is a selection of their answers)

  • I remember that she said “Habits of mind are everywhere”that affected me because it made me think that we think all the time and we don’t even notice it -Jess-

  • What I remember the most is the I remember the most from the conference was how she talked about how you should be flexible, so that creativity will come to you, also, you will learn more. -Maya-

  • I remember that she said that habits of mind can be used outside of school. – Jack

  • I remember when she said that she made the museum for teachers and students who is going to learn about habits of thinking. -Nana-

  • I remember how she said that it [HOM] wasn’t only for humanities or english but it is for everything.-Martin-

  • One thing I remember is how Bena said that people need to learn how to use more exquisite language in our everyday talking instead of saying “that was awesome” but saying why it was “awesome” and making our conversations meaningful-Claudia

  • I remember when she mentioned that she made a museum for a good reason that really was an inspiring thing to help kids understand about how important habits of mind.. -Juan Pablo

  • Something I remember Is that she said habit’s of mind can be used anywhere.- Camila

  • One thing I remember is that she said that she created the museum for students and teachers that were going to about the habits of thinking and I thought that was really cool. – Gabe

  • André – One thing that I remember she said was that she said that two people are better than one, so she likes to write books with other people.

  • One thing that I remember is that she said that not all [her]  books are about habits of mind but all of them have a connection to education. Juan

  • Yael – I remember is that she said she worked with partners because of the habit of Thinking Interdependently. Also, how she worked with a partner for all of the books because it is better to work with two minds that have two perspectives, than one mind that thinks on its own.

  • I remember that she said how people at a pajama party decided to use the habits of mind and think flexible. – Brenna 😉


Habits of Minds from langwitches on Vimeo.