Discussion will take place in Ms. Lewis's room, 109.

Trevor Legere
Emelia von Saltza
Jack Barbera
Gemma Shay
Spencer Olsen
Ben Nelson
Hillary Pidden

1. Student Facilitator(s): This person's role will be to read the agenda from his or her computer to direct the conversation. Someone should volunteer or nominate a peer(s). Communicate with each other! Please list all the group members on your wiki page as well.
(who wants to do this?)

2. Protocols: Protocols are helpful to give everyone in the group the time and chance to speak. Use at least two protocols and customize them to fit your discussion


A whip can be done at any point or multiple times in the discussion. Go around the circle and each person talks for less than a minute. Other participants listen and can respond after the whip has made a full circle.
Whip questions for beginning of the discussion:
  • How did you like the book?
  • How did you respond to a certain character?
  • What did you care most about in the book?
Whip questions for the middle of the discussion:
  • What passage(s) made an impact on you?
  • What points already said do you agree or disagree with?
Whip questions for the end of the discussion:
  • What comment made today most affected your thinking?
  • What have you learned most about the book/the issues raised by the book today?
  • What questions still linger for you?

Ten Words or Less

This can be done as individuals or in pairs.
  • On your own or with one partner, summarize the book in ten words or less. Give everyone three minutes.
  • Share the summaries: the writer reads the summary and another participant asks a question or makes a comment in response to that summary. The writer responds and talk can open from there. Move to the next summary.
  • Commit to each summary earning one comment or question from another participant.

3. Discussion Questions:

What are the issues and ideas within this novel you’d like to discuss with each other? Be sure to consider various parts of the text (beginning, middle and end). Collaboratively create 15-25 open-ended questions that promote discussion and organize them logically. You can use them within a protocol or on their own.
  • Personal Response Questions -- These questions might address your personal reactions to the style and content of the novel and ask group members to share and compare.
  • Open-ended, analytical questions -- These promote multiple perspectives and don’t yield a single answer. They address the WHY and HOW.
  • Significant passage questions -- Observe, as you would in close reading, the qualities of the text and how the passage brings meaning to the novel overall.

How do you think the prologue about narcissism relates/foreshadows to the rest of the novel?
Do you believe all things happen for a reason?
Do you agree that fear is the biggest barricade in achieving your personal legend?

Do you think that everyone can control their own Personal Legends?

How do you like how the book was written?
How do you think the author's writing style affected the meaning?
What do you think Fatima's character says about the author's opinion on the role of women/love?

Can you be ultimately happy without discovering your personal legend like the glass seller was?

Is there anything else to live for once you discover your legend?

4. Culture & Context

We recognize that we're reading books that take place in different cultures than ours. What do you need to know about this culture that would give you deeper insight to the story? Use a Historical/Biographical approach and pose questions. The bullets below give you some places to start. Each group member should pose at least one question, and each group member should research a resource and post his or her findings that respond to the question. Post a resource for someone else's question. Label your questions and posts so we can see that everyone contributed to both steps.

    • history and political conflict of the nation depending on the time it takes place: historical articles or current news
    • The time period is almost unknown except for the fact that it is pre modern, why did Coelho do this? Does it add to the mysticism? http://www.aneki.com/comparison.php?country_1=Spain&country_2=Brazil
    • cultural or religious traditions
    • Is the culture Coelho grew up with in Brazil very similar to the culture of southern Spain, where Santiago lives?
    • biographical information about the author
    • Do you think Coelho's childhood has affected his writing style by giving him a greater understanding for other cultures?
    • articles of literary criticism (using Marvel)
    • author information -- interviews, obituaries, statements
    • Did the author achieve his personal legend?/Was writing this novel his?
      • Coelho's parents were very opposed to him becoming a writer and sent him to a mental institution several times until he was 20. When he was 39, he walked over 500 miles in northwestern Spain, where he had a "spiritual awakening" and realized he had to become a writer. (x)
    • How does he apply his views to his life?/What kind of childhood inspired him to have such optimistic support in people succeeding in their personal calling?
    • book reviews
    • How well-received was this book at the time it was published compared to its success now?
    • research allusions and cultural references

5. Pre-Discussion Processing
The purpose of this section is to sort out the basic fiction elements in the novel. We've put it at the bottom of your agenda, but it is the first place you'll start to work. This is a good way to check your understanding of the novel, and the group can use this information as a reference during the discussion. You can use your collective knowledge to answer these questions and build a foundation for your discussion so the conversation can focus on higher level issues.

Post on the wiki prior to discussion and include textual references wherever necessary
  • Characters - List a significant detail for each character
    • Santiago - main character
    • Fatima -
    • The Alchemist -
    • Melchizedek - king of Salem
    • The shopkeeper - gives Santiago a job at the crystal shop
  • Setting - Locations and time periods
    • starts in Andalusia, Spain and goes to Cairo, Egypt (then back to Spain)
  • Important plot events - Choose at least 3 significant plot elements and explain their importance
  • The Englishman (the Alchemist)- a) we know he will be important because the book is called The Alchemist b) he tells Santiago about the Soul Of the World -The Elixir of Life that cure all illnesses and stones that can turn any metal into gold- it sparks a superficiality in Santiago. Its a parallel between the material success Santiago wishes to find in hand with his own spiritual happiness. In contrast in this same scene the camel driver emphasizes the unimportance of holding on to material things- that they will all be inevitably lost someday, but whatever happens is meant to be.
  • Conflicts - Identify and elaborate on the conflicts that drive the plot
    • The search for his Personal Legend
  • Narration (point of view) - Describe how the telling impacts the story
    • 3rd person, uninvolved narrator
  • Important passages - Have at least 5 important passages on the wiki; a brief comment or question about how and why the passage is important should follow each
  • "It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired." (64)
  • "When each day is the same as the next, it's because people fail to recognize the good in things that happen in their loves every day that the sun rises."(29)-- I think this is trying to get across that each day is new day to chance your future. Also that people should not forget the small things in life.
  • "Because I don't live in either my past or my future. I'm interested only in the present. if you can concentrate always on the present you'll be a happy man. You'll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and the tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race. Life ill be a party for you, a grand festval, because life is the moment we're living right now."(86) -- This is really true, if people just focused on the future they would be much happier. This makes a lot of sense because you can't change your past but you can change now.
  • "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."(143) --
  • “The alchemists spent years in their laboratories, observing the fire that purified the metals. They spent so much time close to the fire that gradually they gave up the vanities of the world. They discovered that the purification of the metals had led to a purification of themselves” (52).