Educators' Network: Literature Circles 2012


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Educators' Network: Literature Circles 2012

  1. 1. Educators‟ Network Reading:The Key Element in Academic Achievement Literature Circles By Sarah Pickles March 31st 2012 Lincoln Community School, Accra, Ghana
  2. 2. Today I wanted to give you an overview of the benefits of using Literature Circles, talk abouthow I personally use them as part of my reading program at LCS, and get you thinking aboutand how you can use them in your classroom and in your school.In this handout you will find copies of some of the resources I use in my Grade 4 class. I hopeyou find them useful.Bibliography:Noe, Katherine L. Schlick, and Nancy J. Johnson. Getting Started withLiterature Circles. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon, 1999. Print.Day, Jeni Pollack. Moving Forward with Literature Circles: How to Plan,Manage, and Evaluate Literature Circles That Deepen Understandingand Foster a Love of Reading. New York: Scholastic Professional,2002. Print. You can find more out about me and my teaching at the following Thanks for coming to the workshop! Happy reading!
  3. 3. AppendicesAppendix 1: Letter to Parents about Literature CirclesAppendix 2: Literature Circle JobsAppendix 3: Assessing Literature CirclesAppendix 4: Literature Circle Self EvaluationAppendix 5: Literature Circles ReflectionAppendix 6: Discussions ElementsAppendix 7: What makes Literature Circles work?Appendix 8: Focus LessonsAppendix 9: Assessing Literature Circles
  4. 4. Appendix 1: Letter to Parents about Literature CirclesDear Fourth Grade families,We are now ready to begin Literature Circles in Grade 4. As a class we have been using ourread alouds to begin looking at different ways to discuss and respond to texts. As a class havebeen reflecting on characters, connecting with, critically thinking about, as well as askingquestions about the texts. The children are now ready to apply all they have learnt and toparticipate and lead their own book discussions.Literature Circles are a forum for students to read, discuss and respond to literature at theirindependent reading level. Literature Circles are a great chance for all students to share theirideas, experiences and interpretations.The children have been split up in to discussion groups, according to their independent readinglevel. The class will have a time limit e.g. 4 weeks, in which they have to finish their book. Eachgroup will decide how much they have to read for each session. For now, the children will take itin turns to have certain jobs for home learning to prepare then for their group discussions.These jobs are: connector character detective discussion director word wizard(Detailed descriptions of the jobs are in their Literature Circle notebooks and on the classwebiste)The groups will meet every Tuesday and Thursday morning and they should come havingcompleted their reading and their job (i.e. if they get their new job and reading on Tuesday,they must complete it for Thursday). The reading response homework should work as a springboard for their group‟s discussions.The classes have come up with some essential agreements to ensure Literature Circles runsmoothly.Everyone should: complete their home learning and bring it in on time participate fully in the discussion be open minded and listen to others‟ ideas be ready in 1 minute to start bring in their text and Literature Circle journal only read up to the page agreed upon encourage the others in the group keep the noise level downThe children will be assessed not only on their home learning but also on their contribution tothe discussion.Thank you for your support and assistance! We look forward to many discussions this year thatwill expand and improve our love of reading as well as help us become critical thinkers.Regards,
  5. 5. Sarah PicklesAppendix 2: Literature Circle Jobs Discussion Director Your job at home is to develop a list of questions that your group might want to discuss about this part of the book. Your task is to help people talk over the bigideas in the reading and share their reactions. Usually the best discussion questions comefrom your own thoughts, feelings, and concerns as you read. You may also use some of thegeneral questions below to develop topics for your group. Sample questions: What was going through your mind while you read this? How did you feel while reading this part of the book? What was discussed by the characters in this part of the book? Can someone summarize briefly? Did today‟s reading remind you of any real-life experiences? What questions did you have when you finished this section? Did anything in this section of the book surprise you? What are the one or two most important ideas? Predict some things that you think will happen next. Word Wizard Your job is to be on the lookout for 4 or 5 especially important words or phrases in todays reading. Look for words that are: * strange * funny * interesting * hard * puzzling * new * different Write down the word or phrase, the page number that it’s on & why you chose it. Then write down their definitions of the words as well. When your group meets, help your classmates talk about the words you have chosen
  6. 6. Connector Your job at home is to find 2 or 3 connections between the book your group isreading and the world outside. This means connecting the reading to: * your own life * happenings at school or in the neighborhood * other books or stories * similar events at other times and places * other people or problems * other writings on the same topic * other writings by the same author Character Detective Your job at home is to think about one of the main characters‟ personality. Make a mind map about one of the main characters in your book. In the first bubble write one of his/hercharacter traits (e.g. principled). In the next bubble give a specific example of the characterdemonstrating this in the section of the book you were reading. Give at least 4 differentcharacter traits. Clarice Bean when she thinks it’s not right for Karl to contacthis principled Dad without hismumknowingExtra JobsSummarizerYour job is to prepare a brief summary of todays reading. Your group discussion will start withyour 1-2 minute statement that covers the key points, main highlights, and general idea oftodays reading assignment.Travel TracerWhen you are reading a book in which characters move around often and the scene changesfrequently, it is important for everyone in your group to know where things are happening andhow the setting may have changed. So thats your job: to track carefully where the action takesplace during todays reading. Describe each setting in detail, either in words or with an actionmap or diagram you can show to your group. You may use the back of this sheet or anothersheet. Be sure to give the page locations where the scene is described.
  7. 7. Appendix 3: Assessing Literature Circles Literature Circle Self Evaluation Preparation I read up to page ----------and not ahead yes no I completed my job according to the job description yes no I brought my journal and my text yes no Literature Circle Discussions LOW HIGH I helped my group get started in one minute 1 2 3 4 5 I helped keep the noise level in class low 1 2 3 4 5 I was an active listener 1 2 3 4 5 I encouraged my group 1 2 3 4 5 I stayed on task and didn‟t goof around 1 2 3 4 5 I shared my job with the rest of my group 1 2 3 4 5 I responded to someone else‟s comments 1 2 3 4 5Teacher’s comment: Literature Circle Home Learning Rubric 0 1 2 3 Content Job is partially done, All parts of the job All parts of the job but not according to the (according to the job (according to the job job description. description) are description) are completed but minimal completed and a lot of Task is not detail is given. detail is given. Mechanics completed Assignment contains Assignment contains Assignment contains (spelling, or not a lot of mechanical some mechanical few, if any, punctuation, brought to errors. errors. mechanical errors. capitalization, school on Job/title date are Either the job or the Job, title and date are subject - verb the day it is missing (2 of the 3) title or the date is all written. agreement) due. * Presentation missing. * Presentation & and/or handwriting is * Presentation & handwriting are neat. sloppy/unreadable/n handwriting are ot done in cursive. readable but messy. Content score: _________ Mechanics score: ____________
  8. 8. Appendix 4: Literature Circle Self Evaluation Literature Circle Self Evaluation Date: Preparation yes no I read up to page _______ and not ahead. I completed my job according to the job description and it shows 100% effort. I brought my notebook and my book. Literature Circle Discussions (5 = super! wow!, 1=eek, not at all good) Think about the following statements before giving yourself an overall score for today’s sessions. 1 2 3 4 5 a) I was an active, open minded listener. b) I encouraged my group. c)I stayed on task and didn’t goof around. d)I shared my job with the rest of my group. e)I participated in the discussion and gave 100%. Literature Circle Peer Evaluation Using the above statements, give the other members of your group a score for today’s session. Feel free to explain more if necessary. Name: 1 2 3 4 5 Name: 1 2 3 4 5 Name: 1 2 3 4 5 Name: 1 2 3 4 5Teacher’s comment:
  9. 9. Appendix 5: Literature Circles ReflectionWhat do you like about Literature Circle discussions?Would you use them if you were a teacher?How might you do them differently?What do you think your teacher wants you to learn from Literature Circlediscussions?What have you learned recently from Literature Circle discussions? What wouldyou like to learn next?
  10. 10. Are there any books you particularly enjoyed reading and discussing? Why didyou like them? Are there any books you particularly did not enjoy reading and discussing? Whydid you not like them?Are there any people you especially like having in your group? Why? What do likediscussing with them?
  11. 11. Appendix 6: Discussions ElementsDiscussion elements Looks like Sounds LikeFocused on discussion Eyes on speaker Speakers voice only Hands empty Paying attention Sit up Appropriate responses Mind is focused Voices low Face speaker One voice at a timeActive Participation Eyes on speaker Appropriate responses Hands to yourself Folow off others‟ ideas Hands empty Nice comments Talking one at a time Positive attitude Head noddingAsking Questions for Listening Positive, nice questionsClarification Hands empty Polite answersPiggybacking Off Listening Positive, nice talkingOthers’ Ideas Paying attention Wait for people to finishDisagreeing Look at the speaker Polite responsesconstructively Nice face nice looks Let people finish talking Quiet voices No put downsActive listening Paying attention Quiet Hands empty Speaker‟s voice only Looking at the speakerTaking turns to let One person talking On evoiceothers speak Attention on speakerSupporting Opinions Use the book and from Piggybacking off otherswith Evidence Be prepared Help others find evidence One voice Let people finish talking Taken from,”Getting Started with Literature Circles‟.
  12. 12. Appendix 7: What makes Literature Circles work? What makes Literature Circles work? 1. Remember to bring your book to class every day. 2. Remember to complete your job for homework. 3. Always listen to people when they are talking to you, reading aloud, or when they read instructions so that you know what to do for homework. 4. Youshould cooperate even when you disagree. 5. Stay focused on the book and the discussion. Do not have side conversations or let your attention wander. 6. Keep eye contact when someone is speaking. 7. Speak clearly and loud enough for the group to hear, but not so loudly that you distract other groups. 8. Sit in a circle the same height. Always remember to have FUN! 
  13. 13. Appendix 8: Focus LessonsFocus Lesson Date Date DateHow to choose abookHow to start adiscussion quicklyHow to listenattentivelyHow to keep aconversationgoingRole of groupmemberWhat to write inresponse journalWhat to do whenyou don‟tunderstandWhat to do whenyour groupfinishesHow to mediateconflictsHow to spice uplaggingdiscussion Taken from,„Getting Started with Literature Circles‟. pg.88
  14. 14. Appendix 9: Assessing Literature Circles Moving Forward with Literature CirclesUnderstanding of Literature DiscussionDo the students know what types of things totalk about? Is there trouble beginning adiscussion or picking a new topic? (What dowe talk about?”)Do the students articulate what confusesthem? (I didn‟t understand why the characterchose to return home”)Do the students theorize about confusingthem? (“I wonder if it means that she wassorry for what she had done?”)Do the students give evidence from the textfor their opinions and evaluations? (“It saysright there in the book that she was afraid.”)What type of evidence do they give? Is itbased on their own experiences or the textfor something else? (“I would never do that ifthat happened to meCan the students talk about who else mightlike the book? (“My little sister would like thisbook better than I did.”Do the students try to understand the bookfrom others‟ perspectives, such as the authoror main character? (“I think the author wasmaking a point about how tough life wasback then.” “I don‟t like that the maincharacter joined a gang, but I guess he felthe had to.”)Student InteractionDo the students respond to each other‟sideas? What are their responses like? Dothey agree or disagree with each others‟ideas? (“I agree tat she was selfish , but Ithink she had reasons for being a brat. Itwasn‟t her fault.”)Are the students willing to disagree? How dothey go about disagreeing if they do? )” Idon‟t think that‟s right. I think she had a goodreason for being mean to her sister.”)Are the students willing to share tentativeideas, things they haven‟t thought throughcompletely? (“I „v e been wondering if thatwasn‟t because things were differentthen…well not different completely, but…doyou know what I mean?”Do the students ask questions of others?What types of questions do they ask? (“Didyou like the book, Ryan?” What do you thinkthe characters should have done?”)How does student participation change indifferent groups?Critical thinkingAre the students willing to reconsider ideasin light of new evidence? What do studentsdo when presented with conflictingevidence?(“That‟s a good point…I forgot thatshe had made the promise to her friend.”)
  15. 15. Do the students actively theorize about theworld or are they dependent on others to tellthem the right answers? (“Well it might bethat…..” as opposed to “I don‟t know. Whatdo you think?”Are the students willing or hesitant todisagree with sources of authority? (“I don‟tcare f the book says …..”as opposed to“Well, the book says so…so it must be true.”)Does the student see others as sources ofexpertise on which to draw? (“Let‟s askDrew. He knows a lot about baseball.”)When the students give reasons for theiropinions, are those reasons internal (“Thatdoesn‟t fit my experience”) or are theyexternal, depending on outside authorities.,including their parents, their peers theirfriends, the book, or other adults? (“Myteachers last year said it means this.”)Do the students look for multipleexplanations or does one suffice? (“Hejoined the army for excitement… or maybehe felt he had to join the army to help hissister…or maybe he wanted to get out of histerrible home situation.”)Literary Content KnowledgeWhat content knowledge do students use?Do they use terms such as character,setting , tone, theme, foreshadowing? Dothey talk about terms without having a namefor them?Do students notice the sound and feel oflanguage? Do they attend to devices such asmetaphor and simile and how they help themenjoy a book?