Not all book club members are alike.

Webb's Depth of Knowledge Wheel

Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Wheel

Whether students are grouped into book clubs by reading level, by interest in book selection, the students choose their own groups, or the grouping is totally random, tiered resources make differentiation and individualized learning possible throughout the entire process.

Using Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Wheel as a model, we can tier book club resources to individualize the learning experience and appropriately challenge all students.

If all students in the class are reading the same book, a tiered book introduction is a good way to accommodate for students whose reading level may be below or above the whole-class selection. As in the example below for The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, the levels of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge are used to scaffold the the reading for students who are reading below the level of the book by providing the students with the basic information necessary to comprehend more of the complex ideas in the text. Similarly, students reading above the level of the book are also accommodated by being presented with questions that require them to extend their thinking.

With a resource such as this one, there is no set rules for how to use it.

  • A teacher can provide all students in the room with the same sheet and have them move through the depth of knowledge at his or her own pace…
  • or, a teacher can decide to provide students with one level at a time, moving them to the next appropriate level after conferencing with them.
  • Each student in the group can work on the same level at once…
  • or individual students may be assigned different levels.

While it would be nice to have a tiered book introduction written for every book the students will ever read, this is not always possible.  In cases such as these, when book clubs are reading different titles, tiered discussion guides are helpful.

In the example below, all students are reading books in the fantasy genre.  Though the questions are not specifically designed for a particular book, they are designed to work with any book in the genre.  As with the resource above, the teacher coaches the students as to which questions they should be focusing on at a given time.

Sharing the Depth of Knowledge Wheel with students is a great way to encourage that students take ownership of their own thinking and learning.  While the levels do not necessarily need to occur in a specific order, the students can use the wheel as a sort of “student facing checklist” to evaluate the type of work they are doing.

Whether it be their contribution to a group discussion, reading responses, a conclusion in a lab report, or an essay in social studies, students can refer to the wheel and see what type of thinking they are doing most. From there, students can make sure they address any levels of thinking they’ve neglected or not yet fully developed. These strategies also work well when students are reading independent books, reading in partnerships, or when the entire class is reading the same text.

~What did YOU do in school today?