Now we are nearing the end of our look into Lit circles we need to talk about everybody’s favourite topic…Assessment. Before we get to that we are going to look at some culminating activities to conclude a lit circles unit. The majority of this information is from Faye Brownlie’s book Grand Conversations, Thoughtful Responses: A unique Approach to Literature Circles. Again I recommend this book to anyone that wants to do a lit circles unit in their classroom.
A culminating activity can be one of many assignments. The point of having this assignment is to have students think about what they have learned in this process. Brownlie suggests doing the culminating activity in a two part approach. She suggests that students do a poster on their favourite book, character comparison across books, a class vote/debate, inviting another class to come in and listen to the students talk about their books in pairs and the talk show (described in detail in my last post). I find the talk show as the most intriguing option here because it could also be linked in as a debate. I think the whole class could get behind the role play and take lots out of it. All suggested are great ways for the students to share their learning. The second component is to write the students a letter about the unit. Students are to reflect on their lit circle experience and write about where they are now compared to where they started. I do like this activity because if some students do struggle they can write about the experience.
Journals- Brownlie suggested students select one entry a week to be marked. This is nice because there is lots of practice with responding as well as students can be comfortable connecting to the book when they are at a part that jumps out at them. Students do not need to worry if they cannot connect to every part of the story, this is unrealistic. The back and fourth is nice because students can use the formative feedback and shape their future journal entries.
Discussions- Make sure to have clear criteria before discussions start happening. Criteria can include: behavior, ready to share, respectful to others, elaborate on other peoples sharing and try to make deeper connections. Brownlie also mentions having a group mark each time a group meets. I love this because it holds the students accountable for each other and engaged even when it is not their turn to speak. Students can also write a self-evaluation (or even a quick rating out of 5) on their behavior, preparedness, etc.
Comprehension Activities- Depending on how many weeks the unit is, you can choose to collect all of the assignments or have the student pick their 2-3 best ones. The assignments would be marked based on separate criteria that was established with the students. I would suggest creating multiple rubrics for the different activities (check back to the last post to see them all) and marking accordingly.
Number of books- This is an interesting concept which depends on the length of books, easiness of read and time. Brownlie suggests that to get a certain grade a student must read so many books. Example: A= 3 books, B= 2 books, and C= 1 book. Obviously this isn’t the only criteria as the students journals and assignments are where they earn their grades. I like the idea of this because it can motivate students to try and get a better grade.
Culminating Project- Similar to the comprehension activities this mark will depend on separate criteria that is clearly established. If I were to mark the student letters about their learning, I would focus on the takeaways the student connected with and how they were able to articulate them. I am not sure on how much emphasis to put on the assessment of the final assignment but I do think it should carry about 20-25% of the total mark for the lit circle unit.