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Literature Circles

Choice and Efficiency

As teacher time becomes more rare, literature circles offer an excellent method to improving comprehension, engagement, and time management. Even though many teachers are reluctant to give up their whole class novels, it is really a crucial time for us to rethink what’s best for the students.

This model is a redesign of the packet I have sent out before. To best fit the needs of a variety of student levels, I am listing a collection of items to include in a literature circle packet. My suggestion is to select what you like to create your specifically tailored packet. I do, however, recommend strongly that you use these three steps/items:

1.  The Book Pass: Give students this paper and one of the book choices. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. They read, preview, skim the text. Then thye have one minute to check if they would like to read it: YES-NO-MAYBE and to write a few comments. After they have seen all the options, have them choose their top 3 choices. When you collect these, make every effort to put them into workable groups (knowing the personalities and interests of the students) based on one of their top 3 choices.

2. On the first day of meeting in book groups, students get their book and the packet. This will be the work for the whole time they are reading. The first page should include a calendar–with dates of when you want things turned in or completed. Leave the reading option to them. They will discuss schedules and break their book into chapters and time frames that will get the work done on time.

3. The other thing they should complete on the first day is the Lit Group Support and Agreement. Explain the necessity of everyone coming to the group prepared and if not how that stifles the process. etc. Explain the necessity of a consequence and so the group can decide what that consequence will be. Teacher must agree and students and teacher sign the contract. This eliminates a lot–not all–of the probelms associated with students not coming prepared. For when they do and as the teacher meets and can tell they were unprepared it’s simply a matter of saying, “okay, let’s look at what the contract says…we have to follow the contract.”

Those are three things I find are crucial in book groups. They provide ownership in the process and lots of choice. Below you can preview lessons to include according to your teaching needs. Pick what you like. In Adobe you can open a single pdf document and then choose DOCUMENT in the top menu bar, INSERT pages and keep adding pages as you need them. Then SAVE AS a whole new packet tailored to your needs.

One more thing. You will not find the typical “Roles” here. Lots of literature circles rely on roles such as The Recorder, The Investigator, etc. I have never found these to be very workable in my classrooms but if you are interested in those please see books by Harvey Daniels. He offers lots of practical advice and information on roles used in the circles.

Also, if you need more info on the purpose and power of literature circles, see this informative article.

Lesson Options for Literature Circles

Click on the image for larger view. Click on hyperlinked title to download the document.

Lit Circle Packet Cover Page

 

 

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Lit Circle Calendar Use this blank template for students to decide in their groups how many pages should be read by when. Teachers provide due dates for assignments.


 

 

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 Lit Circle Prediction chart Students make three predicitons and support those predictions with evidence from the text or their own background knowledge.

 

 

 

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Elements of Fiction chart Use this with any reading or with lit circles. Asks students to find examples of figurative language as well.

 

 

 

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Somebody Wants But So This easy-to-remember format for finding main idea and creating summaries is useful for both fiction and nonfiction, and with articles, short stories and novels.  Use in general or with the literature circles.

 

 

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 Illustrate a scene Use this (or just assign and save your copies) to ask students to draw a signficant scene from the text. Must also inclue a quote and reason for choosing this scene.

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Generic reader response :Asks for reponse to reading, question, connection to life, and an important passage.

 

 

 

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Lit Circle Question Grid Each student comes prepared with an open-ended discussion question. Some helpful question-generators are listed here, too.

 

 

 

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Background knowledge a to z chart: students use this a-z chart to fill in everything they already know (or think they know) about the subject of the reading.

 

 

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Questions and Writing for Nonfiction Connections this two page document includes Questions and a short essay based on the text they have just read.

 

 

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Text To Self To World graphic and chart. This 3 page document provides various modes for looking at Text To Self To World Connections.

 

 

 

 

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Read Aloud: Students select a section to read aloud and complete this to explain why they chose that section as an important part to read aloud.

 

 

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Character Poster: Students complete based on character analysis.

 

 

 

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Character Resume Students complete a resume from a character’s point of view. If you share in class have them defend their answers with examples from the text.

 

 

 

 

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Vocabulary List: Complete chart with words found in independent reading. Guess meaning based on context then look up.

 

 

 

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Vocabulary Final Five: Each person in the group has their own list of words. Find ones that are common and extend the work on those five words.

 

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Venn Diagram to Compare and Contrast: a plain Venn to use for comparing and contrasting any number of things in the text.

 

 

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Group_projects_for_novel_or_play: Use this as they work through the text or at the end.

 

 

 

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Powerpoint Book Review : This document outlines and is a rubric for a powerpoint presentation on a book done as a group or individually.

 

 

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Book projects worth different points Give students the options of how many points they want to earn depending on how much of a final project they want to complete.

 

 

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Lit Circle Peer Evaluation Chart.  This form is completed and turned in confidentially. Let students know ahead of time that they will partially be scored using this form.

 

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Lit Circles Reflections and Survey Use this at the end of the unit. Students should be honest and share what they liked least/most and how they performed.

Comments

  1. I have done literature circles before, but did not like some of the activites that are recommended. It all depended on the class and I like involving all my classes not just the Pre-ap GT classes. This will certainly help me. I will read the articles you recommanded. I do want to bring lit circles back into the classroom.
    Thank you for the handouts,
    Mrs. O.Garza
    Texas 8th grade Elar teacher

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