Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rethinking Literature Circle Roles

I love literature circles, but by Grade 8 my students have done the traditional roles so many times that they start to groan if I mention literature circles. So this year I am veering away from the traditional roles and having them just meet to discuss the books they are reading once a week for four weeks.

How does this work?
I had 5 copies of 7 different book titles. Books were put on display on my whiteboard ledge for a few days to generate student interest and buzz. A few days later, copies of the books were dispersed amongst the class for students to dig deeper into the novel to see if it was a good fit for them.
I allowed students to choose their novels and their group members. For their first time discussing books, I wanted them to be comfortable with the people in their groups. In the future, I will create the groups based on reading level, interests, etc.
Students will be required to fill out the graphic organizer below prior to attending a book discussion, but that is the only paper item I will collect.

I created a simple graphic organizer where they can write down their thoughts as they read their novel, but nothing else paper wise will be handed in. I will rotate through the groups each day to listen in on their discussions and add prompts if needed.

My goal for these book discussion groups is to give students more ownership of their book discussions. Students need to be more prepared for the level of rich discussion that takes place in a high school English classroom, which is not as structured as traditional literature circle rolls.

I am not saying that I won’t go back to the previously established rolls, but we need a break from them for a few months. I am a huge fan of literature circle roles for students in the younger grades that the need the structure they provide so that students can be gradually released to running their own “lit circles” in the middle school years.

You can find the free "book thoughts" graphic organizer on Teachers Pay Teachers by just clicking on the above photo.

I also have my students work on monthly book report assignments, but during months where we have novel discussion groups or literature circles I do not assign an additional book to read.

What do my students do for their monthly book reports?

I assign a different genre for each month, and students can select any appropriate novel to read that meets their reading level. Each month the assignment changes, but works on a three month rotation: 4 R's - writing assignment, Choice Board - creative assignment , Sell This Book - present the novel to the class. 

To get more details about my "Spice Up Your Book Reports" reading program click on the photo below.

How do you use literature circles in your classroom? 

How do you encourage students to enjoy  what they read? 

I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Until next month,

1 comment:

  1. This is very similar to how I do my book clubs as well. I start out with the role sheets because they set an expectation (they are only graded for completion), but then I slowly release that control so students can read for pleasure. The agreement is that as long as everyone is contributing to the discussion (and therefore, did the reading), we will cover all the stuff on the role sheet without having to write it down. If I suspect otherwise, the sheets can come back. I've only had to do that once. :)


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