Throughout the book, the author takes the reader into several classrooms and allows them to experience literature circles throughout the country.
I found several chapters very interesting and most intriguing. I loved reading about how actual literature circles take place. In order for you to fully understand how a literature circle works, you must first know some basic principles that should guide them. These things will help you create wonderful discussion groups centered around reading.
A way to allow students to choose a book they want to read and to still have some say in the grouping process, the teacher can choose 8 or 9 books and do a book preview. Allow students to choose 3 books they would be interested in and have them list them on a secret ballot. The teacher can then take the ballots and give each student one of their top choices to ensure that groups will work harmoniously together.
Groups meet on a regular, predictable schedule. If kids are going to self-assign parts of a book, read with a purpose, make notes in a reading log, and come to class ready to take an active part in the discussion, they need a sensible, predictable schedule.
Discussion topics come from the students. In these challenging discussion groups, kids must perform all the acts that real, mature readers do – from picking their own books to making their own assignments to selecting issues for discussion, all the way through to sharing and expressing their views of the book to fellow readers.
The teacher serves as the facilitator. Aside from initial mini-lessons and closing debriefing sessions (which are important but brief), the teacher isn’t on stage. Instead, the teacher roles in literature circles are supportive, organizational, and managerial. In some cases, teachers can even join in as a fellow reader.
Evaluation is by teacher observation and student self-evaluation. Since the teacher is not the center of attention, they actually have time to conduct more qualitative forms of evaluation.
Examples: kid-watching, narrative observational logs, performance assessment, checklists, student conferences, groups interviews, video/ audio-taping, and the collection in portfolios of the artifacts created by literature circles.
There are a lot of teachers that have said Literature circles are a great idea and they wish they had the time to incorporate them into their classrooms. After reading this book, I don’t see how we as teachers can afford not to do literature circles in our classrooms.