Almost one year ago I wrote about a new organization called CommonLit that was developing a database of short fiction and nonfiction texts paired with discussion questions. At the time you could only find texts by browsing through the database. Now you can actually search through CommonLit on their search page. Enter a word or term on the search page to find texts with paired questions related to your term. You can then filter your results by grade level, theme, and genre.
The discussion questions on CommonLit aren’t your typical “how does the author use foreshadowing?” kind of questions. Rather the discussion questions deal with larger themes like “how do we define the roles of men and women?” and “why do people follow the crowd?”
Applications for Education
Commonlit’s thematic questions could be quite helpful in getting students interested in reading. I’ve always found that if I can get students engrossed in a conversation around a big question, I then have a much easier time getting them to read materials related to the conversation. My students tend to want to read so that they can find more ideas to bring into their arguments in the classroom conversation.