Literacy circles allow the students to work together and understand text in non traditional ways. Most of the time students read, it is silent and by themselves. Unless they have the need to share with someone what they are reading the story usually remains inside. Lit circles allow a safe place for the students to talk about their feelings and opinions on their readings. Lit circles also promote independence, responsibility and ownership within the students. They have people relying on them and a group that need them to do their part.
Literacy Circles are about choice and freedom. Literacy circles are small groups that all read the same book, essentially the same as a book club. In order for lit circles to be successful there needs to be choice in what books the students can read. A lit circle is not putting students with the same reading levels into groups and giving them an appropriate leveled book. There needs to be a variance in genre of books as well as difficulty. However, the students get to choose the book that interests them. After students have decided on their books they will be split up into their groups. Once in groups The students will assign themselves into different jobs/roles. The teacher informs the students how often and frequent the meetings will be and the students figure out how much they will need to read to finish their book on time. More importantly at future meet ups the students will begin to have conversations and discussions to unlock deeper meaning from their books.
The bulk of the work from the teacher will be done before the students begin their book. The teacher needs to be knowledgeable on the books that they are presenting. The teacher also needs to have hand outs ready ahead of time so that students will be able to see what they need to do. A very important part of lit circles is keeping deadlines. If the teacher tell the students that they are meeting every Monday after lunch then the teacher needs to make sure that this time is available. You have asked for independence and self-reliance from your students so you need to make sure that you keep as consistent as you can. A teacher will know their class and have some idea about how much scaffolding they will need to do before they start. Generally the groups will have different roles/jobs that will need to be filled in order to make sure everyone is pulling their weight. If there are jobs, they need to be switched each time the students meet. By switching jobs it makes sure that everyone gets to try every role out and has to be looking for something different in their reading each time.
Some teachers may struggle with assessment of lit circles because often times there are no hard concrete right or wrong answers. A teachers role during lit circles is to facilitate the conversations and observe. A teachers job is not to tell the students the direction their conversations should go. It is important for students to either keep a reading journal and self assess as well as group assess. Having the students reflect on where their conversation went can be very beneficial. Having the students think about the thoughts of others while they read builds meta cognition. Students will begin to learn that other people may read things much differently than they have. A few things that teachers can mark the students on are their enrollment in the group discussions and their role fulfillment. Role fulfillment can have a number of areas such as keeping up with the reading, sharing and following directions. Having the groups fill out a group assessment will also give the teacher an idea if each person is pulling their weight or not. Some students may find it hard to talk in group discussions. A talking stick may be useful if you know there are quieter students in your class.
I remember doing lit circles in my classes and always loved them. I loved getting the chance to find new books that I would not have known about. There are always so many choices that often your friends will sell you on the book that they’re reading. Part of the reason that these are so memorable is how much work and enthusiasm the teacher puts in. Lit circles can be a lot of work at the beginning but once the students figure it out the classroom can run autonomous. I set out to learn more about lit circles in hoping that I would be able to replicate the experiences that I had. Throughout my inquiry I have just become more excited about getting the opportunity to share it with my students. There are so many different ways to do lit circles that I can even do them a number of times throughout the years and it would still be new to the students. I hope that my excitement of lit circles passes to the students and that they will develop a wanting to read more!
- Awesome starting place
- Has strategies and “how-to” for all grade levels
- FAQ section
- Tons of free handouts relating to lit circles
- Awesome package to get you started
- Contains how to prepare and suggestions
- Good list of books
- Lots are the beginning to a series