Literature Circle MaterialsThis is a set of materials that can help students in grades 4-6 have meaningful discussionsabou...
When students don’t complete their assignments       Students who don’t read or complete their notes for their discussions...
Literature Circle Assignment                                          Week #1   1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You...
Character Traits: An Incomplete Listkind              brave              meanconsiderate       courageous         cold-hea...
Looking Closely at DialogueDirections: Look at the photocopied page from the literature circle book. Withyour partner, dec...
dialogue.             Julia: blue             Anna: yellow             Robert: green             Mr. Myers: orangeThis sce...
“Hm,” said Anna’s dad. “Is there something you’ve learned here, Anna?”      “Always use the lid?”      “That’s a good rule...
Literature Circle Assignment                                         Week #2   1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You ...
Inference ChartInference                       Story Clues                      Background knowledgeA statement that isn’t...
Literature Circle Assignment                                         Week #3   1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You ...
Character Change ChartTitle of textEmotion: How a character feels        Trait: A word to describe the character’s persona...
ThemesThe theme of a text is an underlying message or moral. In other words, itexpresses what the author wants you to lear...
Literature Circle Assignment                                         Week #4   1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You ...
Literature Circle QuestionsAnytime QuestionsA1.   Choose a character. Identify at least two traits of that character. Be s...
Literature Circle Questions   1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You may read ahead if you like, but limit your      d...
Choice Time AssignmentsThese assignments need to be completed by _____________________________. You will have timein class...
Choice Time Assignments: Master ListTeachers Note: Select 4-6 of these choices for your students for each week. Simply cop...
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Literature circle materials

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Questions, assignments, and tips for literature circles with students in grades 4-6.

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Literature circle materials

  1. 1. Literature Circle MaterialsThis is a set of materials that can help students in grades 4-6 have meaningful discussionsabout fiction books.The idea Each week, students will work with their groups to decide which pages to read forthe upcoming week. Encourage them to aim to read enough each week to be able to finishtheir books in four weeks. There are four weeks of generic questions that students can use to frame theirdiscussions. Be prepared for some bumps along the way to brilliant conversations!Learning how to talk about a book requires time, patience, and modeling. Not everydiscussion will be wonderful, especially the first week. Build from what you see and usethat as a teaching point for the next week.Book selection Offer students choices about which books to read. I did a two-minute book pass—kids looked at each book for two minutes, and then passed them on. After this, studentswrote their top three choices on a slip of paper. I put together the groups based on studentchoices and my knowledge about which groups of students work well together.What about when students finish their books? This is the whole point! If students want to read ahead, I let them. Each Monday,when we have our discussions, I use the last five minutes or so to pull kids who havefinished their books to form a new group. It gets a little messy, but we survive. I made the“Master List” of questions to allow for groups that are at different points in their books.What about students at very different reading levels? This can be a problem. I usually try to find books that are a middle ground forreading level. Because most kids are motivated to read and keep up with theirconversations, students who are a level or two below the book will often manage to do fine.I also have assigned kids to partner read with a more capable reader (usually a friend). Ifyou have access to books on CD, these can really help the struggling reader to keep up withthe group and engage in more complex discussions.Choice Time I like to keep a close watch on readers, especially during the first few weeks. I use a“Choice Time” approach. Each day, students have about 15-30 minutes of Choice Time towork on assignments. I create a menu of activities for each week that includes 2 requireditems (usually our shared reading activity and the Literature Circle questions) and 2optional items that students can select from a list of 4-6 choices. During Choice Time, I canmeet with students who are having trouble, offer hints on different activities, or listen in onreaders. E. Kissner 2011
  2. 2. When students don’t complete their assignments Students who don’t read or complete their notes for their discussions are directed towrite paragraphs to answer the questions. While the other students are meeting anddiscussing, they are sitting alone and writing paragraphs. For my students, just oneexperience with this is enough to encourage them to put in more time the next week!Shared Reading I incorporate Literature Circles into my class when we are reading short storiestogether. For example, in Week 1 of Literature Circles, we all read the short story “Juggling”by Donna Gamache to talk about dialogue and story elements. The literature circle workbecame their independent practice.Week 1 In the first week of literature circles, help students to cope with difficult dialogue intheir books. Use “Understanding Dialogue” and “Looking Closely at Dialogue” to look athow authors show which character is speaking.Week 2 This week, dialogue will move to an independent skill, as students answer aquestion about dialogue in their literature circles. Whole class lessons will focus on making inferences about characters. Model thiswith high quality picture books or a shared short story. Students often have troubleidentifying how they use background knowledge to make inferences.Week 3 Students should be well into their books by now! This is a chance to look at howcharacters are changing. Students often don’t think about how characters change theirattitudes throughout a book. Use the “Character Change” chart to talk about how characterscan change traits, emotions, and attitudes throughout a book. This is also an excellent time to work on theme. Use the picture books or shortstories that you have read throughout the sessions to talk about different themes and howdifferent books can show the themes.Week 4 In Week 4, we put the pieces together to make meaning of our books. How did thestory progress? What could we learn from the story? How do we compare our stories?Week 5 and beyond Literature circles can become a useful background activity, even after yourclassroom focus changes. Try continuing with the master list of questions. E. Kissner 2011
  3. 3. Literature Circle Assignment Week #1 1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You may read ahead if you like, but limit your discussion to these pages.) You will have time to read during class, but you should also plan to spend time reading at home. 2. Complete the notes for your discussion group. Remember, your answers do not have to be in complete sentences, but you should include page numbers of specific details. a. If you do not have your notes completed, or you forget them on the day of your discussion, you will need to write paragraph answers for ALL of the questions. 3. Participate in your group’s discussion.Questions1. What is the setting (time and place) ofyour book? Which setting details are themost interesting to you?2. Choose a character. Identify at leasttwo traits of that character. Be sure tocite specific evidence from the text tosupport your details.3. Choose a favorite sentence or quotefrom what you have read so far. Be readyto explain how it is important to thereading and why you like it.4. Do you like this book so far? Why orwhy not? E. Kissner 2011
  4. 4. Character Traits: An Incomplete Listkind brave meanconsiderate courageous cold-heartedthoughtful noble sterncaring foolhardy (doing thoughtlesswarm-hearted things that are rudefriendly not wise) impolitesociable bold unsociableloyal daring unkindgenerous stingyintelligent responsible irresponsibleclever prudent lazysmart careful carelessquick-witted persistent sloppydevious (clever studious messyin a scheming disorganizedway)shy confident imaginativetimid talkative creativemeek outgoing inventivehumble impulsive practicalnervous E. Kissner 2011
  5. 5. Looking Closely at DialogueDirections: Look at the photocopied page from the literature circle book. Withyour partner, decide which characters are speaking. Assign each a color. Then,show the different colors Character name ColorWhat were some of the speaker tags that were used in this selection?How could you tell who was speaking? Use specific text details!Write down your favorite piece of dialogue. Use correct punctuation! Understanding DialogueRead the passage below. Use a colored pencil to underline the E. Kissner 2011
  6. 6. dialogue. Julia: blue Anna: yellow Robert: green Mr. Myers: orangeThis scene is from a story in which two girls become friends as they work on areading project. When we got to Anna’s house, we were both hungry. We hadn’t eatenanything since our lunch at school. “Want to make a milkshake, Julia?” Anna asked. “Sure!” I said. I wasn’t ever allowed to use the blender by myself at home. “Let’s see,” said Anna. “I do this with my brother Robert all the time. Icecream, some milk, and some strawberries.” “Wow,” I said. I was beginning to realize something about Anna. She wasn’tquiet and boring at all. She was funny. And she could cook! Anna measured it all into the blender. “And now,” she said, “all we have to dois plug it in.” But there was one tiny problem, one tiny thing that Anna had forgotten to do.She plugged in the blender and pressed the button. The blender roared to life. Suddenly, pink goop erupted. It was like a strawberry ice cream volcano.Globs of it went everywhere, onto the ceiling, the floor, all over us. Anna pulled her finger away from the button. The blender went silent. Westared at each other in horror. “I forgot the lid,” Anna whispered. Footsteps came into the kitchen. An older boy, about eighth grade or so, stoodin the doorway. “You two are in so much trouble.” “I didn’t mean to,” Anna squeaked. To me, she said, “This is my brother,Robert.” “You both look ridiculous,” Robert said. “Anna, you’re going to be groundedfor years. I bet you’ll never see the light of day again. When Dad sees this, he isgoing to go completely off the deep end.” The more Robert spoke, the more Anna’seyes widened in horror. “When I see what?” said another voice, and Anna’s dad came in. He just stoodthere and looked for a moment, taking in the pink globs on the ceiling, thestalactites of ice cream hanging from our faces, the goop all over our clothes. I almost ran out of the room right then. I never get into trouble. Now here Iwas, in someone else’s house, with a brother and a father I had never met, about toget into trouble with a girl I hardly knew. I was having trouble breathing, I felt sopanicked. But then something surprising happened. Anna’s dad laughed. Robert laughed, too. They both thought the whole thing was funny! E. Kissner 2011
  7. 7. “Hm,” said Anna’s dad. “Is there something you’ve learned here, Anna?” “Always use the lid?” “That’s a good rule to remember,” he said. “And you’ve gotten your new friendcovered in this—what is it, milkshake? Hello, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Mr. Myers,Anna’s dad.” “I’m Julia,” I said. I wished that I could sink through the floor. “I’ll tell you what,” Mr. Myers said. “Anna, Julia, I’ll help you clean up thismess. Then let’s go out and get some dinner and some real milkshakes. Julia, willthat be okay with your mom?” “I’ll call her,” I replied. So then we had to clean the milkshake off the ceiling, the floor, the sink, andevery surface in the kitchen. It had even gotten onto the light!Think about it!Find three different speaker tags used in the passage. Write them below.Find a piece of dialogue where a speaker tag is not used. Circle it. How did youknow who was speaking? E. Kissner 2011
  8. 8. Literature Circle Assignment Week #2 1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You may read ahead if you like, but limit your discussion to these pages.) You will have time to read during class, but you should also plan to spend time reading at home. 2. Complete the notes for your discussion group. Remember, your answers do not have to be in complete sentences, but you should include page numbers of specific details. a. If you do not have your notes completed, or you forget them on the day of your discussion, you will need to write paragraph answers for ALL of the questions. 3. Participate in your group’s discussion.Questions1. Find an example of dialogue thatshows what a character is like. Explainhow the dialogue shows the character’straits.2. What is the main problem in the book?How is the character attempting to solveit?3. Find a place where you agree ordisagree with a character’s decision.Explain the event, and your feelingsabout it.4. Which character in this book is themost like you? Why? E. Kissner 2011
  9. 9. Inference ChartInference Story Clues Background knowledgeA statement that isn’t What clues in the story How does this relate to yourdirectly stated in the story, helped you to figure this out? own experiences?but that you can figure out E. Kissner 2011
  10. 10. Literature Circle Assignment Week #3 1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You may read ahead if you like, but limit your discussion to these pages.) You will have time to read during class, but you should also plan to spend time reading at home. 2. Complete the notes for your discussion group. Remember, your answers do not have to be in complete sentences, but you should include page numbers of specific details. a. If you do not have your notes completed, or you forget them on the day of your discussion, you will need to write paragraph answers for ALL of the questions. 3. Participate in your group’s discussion.Questions1. Share an inference that you made.Explain the text details and backgroundknowledge that helped you to make theinference. (Your inference should besomewhere in the second half of thebook.)2. Find a word or phrase that is tricky tounderstand. Explain what the word orphrase means. (Be sure to write downthe page number.)3. Find some details that describe thesetting. How is it important to the story?Would the story be different in adifferent time and place?4. What big ideas can someone learnfrom this book? Come up with at leastone to share. E. Kissner 2011
  11. 11. Character Change ChartTitle of textEmotion: How a character feels Trait: A word to describe the character’s personalityAttitude: How the character feels about another character, a place, an event, etc.Character What changed? Explanation _____ emotion ___________________________________________ _____ trait ___________________________________________ _____ attitude ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ _____ emotion ___________________________________________ _____ trait ___________________________________________ _____ attitude ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ _____ emotion ___________________________________________ _____ trait ___________________________________________ _____ attitude ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ___________________________________________ E. Kissner 2011
  12. 12. ThemesThe theme of a text is an underlying message or moral. In other words, itexpresses what the author wants you to learn or think about after you read.Many of the same themes are expressed over and over again in fiction. Somecommon themes are listed below.How we relate to each other  Others may help us, but we must figure out who we really are on our own.  Family is more important than popularity, wealth, etc.  Sometimes we must go against what everyone else is doing and make our own path.  A true friendship can withstand tests.  Fighting doesn’t solve problems.  Working together solves problems.  Helping others is its own reward.How we relate to nature  Nature can be a healing force.  We need to pay attention to the natural world.  People need to take care of nature.  If you love something, let it go.Life in general  Good can come from bad.  Persistence and effort pay off in the end.  Cheaters never win.  Honesty is the best policy.  There are more important things than money and success.  Good will triumph over evil.  You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes things still work out. E. Kissner 2011
  13. 13. Literature Circle Assignment Week #4 1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You may read ahead if you like, but limit your discussion to these pages.) You will have time to read during class, but you should also plan to spend time reading at home. 2. Complete the notes for your discussion group. Remember, your answers do not have to be in complete sentences, but you should include page numbers of specific details. a. If you do not have your notes completed, or you forget them on the day of your discussion, you will need to write paragraph answers for ALL of the questions. 3. Participate in your group’s discussion.Questions1. Discuss the theme of the book. What isthe big message? Why do you think this?2. Choose a character who changed—either in emotions, traits, or attitudes.How did the character change? Why wasthis important?3. How is the conflict resolved?4. What is the most important eventfrom the book? Why do you think thatthis is important? E. Kissner 2011
  14. 14. Literature Circle QuestionsAnytime QuestionsA1. Choose a character. Identify at least two traits of that character. Be sure to cite specific evidence from the text to support your details.A2. Choose a favorite sentence or quote from what you have read so far. Be ready to explain how it is important to the reading and why you like it.A3. Find an example of dialogue that shows what a character is like. Explain how the dialogue shows the character’s traits.A4. Which character in this book is the most like you? Why?A5. Share an inference that you made. Explain the text details and background knowledge that helped you to make the inference.A6. Find a word or phrase that is tricky to understand. Explain what the word or phrase means. (Be sure to write down the page number.)Questions for the beginning of a bookB1. What is the setting (time and place) of your book? Which setting details are the most interesting to you?B2. How does the author begin the book? Is it an effective introduction? Be ready to explain your ideas.B3. Why is the conflict in this book? What guesses do you have for how it will be resolved?Questions for the middle of a bookC1. What is the main problem in the book? How is the character attempting to solve it?C2. Find a place where you agree or disagree with a character’s decision. Explain the event, and your feelings about it.C3. Find some details that describe the setting. How is it important to the story? Would the story be different in a different time and place?C4. Choose a character who is not the main character. How is this character important to the story. What role do they play? Would the story be different without this character?Questions for the end of a bookD1. Discuss the theme of the book. What is the big message? Why do you think this?D2. Choose a character who changed—either in emotions, traits, or attitudes. How did the character change? Why was this important?D3. How is the conflict resolved?D4. What is the most important event from the book? Why do you think that this is important? E. Kissner 2011
  15. 15. Literature Circle Questions 1. Read pages _________ - __________. (You may read ahead if you like, but limit your discussion to these pages.) You will have time to read during class, but you should also plan to spend time reading at home. 2. Complete the notes for your discussion group. Remember, your answers do not have to be in complete sentences, but you should include page numbers of specific details. a. If you do not have your notes completed, or you forget them on the day of your discussion, you will need to write paragraph answers for ALL of the questions. 3. Participate in your group’s discussion.Questions Notes E. Kissner 2011
  16. 16. Choice Time AssignmentsThese assignments need to be completed by _____________________________. You will have timein class to work on these, but you will need to do some work at home as well. Required Questions and reading for Literature Circle Week ___________. (You will have time for this in class, but you may need to complete some work at home as well.) Choose 2 of the items belowYou should spend your time wisely during Choice Time. If you finish all of your requiredtasks, you may start an additional one. E. Kissner 2011
  17. 17. Choice Time Assignments: Master ListTeachers Note: Select 4-6 of these choices for your students for each week. Simply copy andpaste them into the chart on the previous page. (Remember to save each one as a separatedocument for ready access next year!) It works well to have some items required one week(such as an Inference Chart) and then optional in weeks to come. Complete an Inference Chart. Complete a Character Change chart. Complete a Character Emotion chart. (Find more about this on my blog post.) Draw a picture of a character from your book. Write five traits of the character around the picture. Create a picture of the setting in your book. Label at least five specific details from the text. Create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast two characters in your book. Create a poster to show the theme of the book. Your poster should include the title, the theme, and at least two details that support the theme. Create a poster to persuade other students to read your book. Create a one-page Readers Theatre script to show some of the action in your book. (Note: You may work together with others in your group to prepare this to present. It will count for everyone.) Suppose that two characters from different stories that we read (or your literature circle books met. Imagine what their conversation would be like. Write down a page of their imaginary discussion. Write a letter to a character in your book. Include three paragraphs. You may ask questions, offer advice, or tell about yourself. E. Kissner 2011

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