Marj Kirkland: Literature Circles


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Marj Kirkland's presentation at the Literature Circles workshop -- Hands On Literacy conference, Nov. 15, 2008, in Singapore

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  • Marj Kirkland: Literature Circles

    1. 1. Literature Circles in the Middle School – Aquinas College Presentation by Marj Kirkland Teacher-Librarian, Aquinas College Incoming National President, Children’s Book Council of Australia, 2009 -2010 B.A., Dip.T., Grad.Dip.Lib., M.App.Sci. (Info. Studies)
    2. 2. How much are teenagers reading? <ul><li>&quot;Harry Potter, James Patterson and Oprah Winfrey’s book club aside, Americans, particularly young Americans, appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining. At the same time, performance in other academic disciplines like math and science is dipping for students whose access to books is limited, and employers are rating workers deficient in basic writing skills.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>- New York Times, Nov. 19, 2007 </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Aquinas College </li></ul><ul><li>Co-educational Catholic school </li></ul><ul><li>Situated on the Gold Coast </li></ul><ul><li>650 students </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed socio-economic population </li></ul><ul><li>Mission statement: We offer “… a dynamic, challenging, rich and diverse range of learning experiences.” We value “a process of constant curriculum renewal.” </li></ul><ul><li>Library Staffing: 1 Teacher-Librarian, 1 Library Aide. </li></ul>Community of learning
    4. 4. Incoming Year 8 Reading Habits Reading – 3.5 hours per week Watching TV – 11.5 hours per week Computer – 7.1 hours per week
    5. 5. Year 8s - How often do you read? 50.4% students say they read once a month or less.
    6. 6. Reading alternatives
    7. 7. What leads to more reading? <ul><li>More access to books leads to more & better reading </li></ul><ul><li>Libraries (of all kinds)  better reading </li></ul><ul><li>More reading takes place if the teacher reads </li></ul><ul><li>Read alouds  more reading </li></ul><ul><li>Peers influence reading </li></ul><ul><li>Book displays influence reading </li></ul><ul><li>Direct encouragement  more reading </li></ul><ul><li>Comfort and quiet  more reading </li></ul><ul><li>Daily SSR sustained silent reading  more reading </li></ul><ul><li>Minimum accountability but encouragement & supplements  more reading </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    8. 8. Rationale for Literature Circles as an ‘in class’ reading programme <ul><li>High correlation between reading and literacy levels. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to use sound pedagogical principles together with anecdotal evidence to establish a successful reading program – it was a program which I thought could work for us! </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on boys - Boys enjoy choosing their own reading. They also love talking about their reading with their friends. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to integrate this program into the English curriculum, making it compulsory for all students rather than optional for the target group. </li></ul><ul><li>CHANGE THE CULTURE! MAKE READING THE NORM. </li></ul><ul><li>Greatest influence - establish across Middle School, Years 8 & 9. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Literature Circles - they involve: <ul><li>Groups of students reading the same book; </li></ul><ul><li>Completing role activities for homework; </li></ul><ul><li>Rotating different roles each week; </li></ul><ul><li>Taking turns to lead the group; </li></ul><ul><li>Discussing and debating issues in the book; </li></ul><ul><li>Taking responsibility for their own reading and learning; </li></ul><ul><li>Self and peer assessment; </li></ul><ul><li>Recap/reporting back to large group; </li></ul><ul><li>Displaying group work to class; </li></ul><ul><li>Setting goals to improve group performance. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Individual workbooks means all students hand their work in.
    11. 11. Literature Circles Significant Task / Connecting Idea (© Our Lady’s Annerley) <ul><li>The BIG Questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who am I and how do I get on with others? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do I understand and communicate with others? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What causes people to construct & interpret things differently? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus Questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What can I learn about myself, others & life from literature? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What can I learn about how to communicate more effectively? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can I identify how meanings are constructed and employed for different purposes? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Key Concepts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Making meaning in contexts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operating the language system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluating meanings in contexts </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Methodology <ul><li>Teachers chose groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Groups chose books – choice is important! </li></ul><ul><li>Groups set pages to read. </li></ul><ul><li>Students chose roles for next week. </li></ul><ul><li>Roles were completed for homework. </li></ul><ul><li>Next lesson involved discussion, evaluation, journal writing, group feedback to class, role swapping for next week, continuation of reading. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Discussion Director <ul><li>Come up with four or five questions before next week to ask the other group members. Make sure the questions are open-ended, requiring more than a “Yes” or “No” answer. </li></ul><ul><li>You could begin your presentation to the group with words such as: “Why do you think the author…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ What do you think…?” </li></ul><ul><li>What are the themes of the novel so far? </li></ul><ul><li>It is your role to be the chairperson next lesson, making sure everyone gets a turn to contribute to the discussion. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Artful Artist <ul><li>Create a piece of artwork which represents a significant scene or idea from the reading. This may be a collage or drawing which is a graphic representation or response to sections of the text. You could begin your presentation to the group with words such as: </li></ul><ul><li>“ This picture shows the feelings of…” or </li></ul><ul><li>“ In this drawing I have tried to show…” </li></ul>
    15. 15. Artful Artist e.g. Example: “ Keeping the Moon” I chose to do a collage representing Nicole and Kiki’s life at the beginning of the book. At this time they found it hard to live life to the fullest. They are just two very unhappy people travelling the countryside. The collage creates a different way of viewing the words in the book. It is made up of a mixture of words and pictures that describe the thoughts of the Sparks family. They travel all over the country trying to find a place where they will fit in. Sometimes people think there is just not enough room in this world for two lost, self-conscious over-weight people until...
    16. 17. Word Wizard <ul><li>Pick out words in the text that are unusual, interesting or difficult to understand. Find their meanings. You may also wish to pick out examples of creative language use, such as alliteration, visual imagery etc. </li></ul><ul><li>What is the writing style of this author like? </li></ul><ul><li>How does he get his message across? </li></ul><ul><li>You could begin your presentation to the group with words such as: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Some words used by the author…” or </li></ul><ul><li>“ The author creates the feeling of ... by using …” </li></ul>
    17. 18. Passage Picker <ul><li>Before the next period you meet, make up a brief summary of the key events that have taken place in the story so far. </li></ul><ul><li>Pick out a couple of interesting or important passages within the reading. They may be funny, sad, or well-written. Read out the passages to the group and share your reason for choosing the passage. </li></ul><ul><li>You could begin your presentation to the group with words such as: </li></ul><ul><li>“ This passage helped me to understand how…” </li></ul>
    18. 19. Intelligent Investigator <ul><li>Intelligent Investigator: Your job is to dig up some background information on the book and any topic related to it. Use whatever means you have at your disposal. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggested areas of research: </li></ul><ul><li>● The geography, weather, culture and history of the book’s setting. </li></ul><ul><li>● Information about the author, her/his life, and other works. </li></ul><ul><li>● Information about the period portrayed in the book. </li></ul><ul><li>● Pictures, objects, or materials that illustrate elements of the book. </li></ul><ul><li>● Music that reflects the book or the period. </li></ul>
    19. 20. Capable Connector <ul><li>Bring to the group some connections between the book you’re reading (its theme, characters or story) and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, or a different work of literature (poem, novel or non-fiction). You may even choose to research a topic or facts connected to your book, or find out more about the author. </li></ul><ul><li>You could begin your presentation to the group with words such as: </li></ul><ul><li>“ That paragraph reminded me of…” or </li></ul><ul><li>“ If you enjoy (adventure stories) you should read…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I found out that…” </li></ul>
    20. 21. Capable Connector e.g. “ I will not shut my eyes And lose the light of the sun For dread of what day brings Stark terror, crawling things Yea, and the worst that lies Within me, guessed of none; I will not shut my eyes I will not shut my eyes But face the ache of light Whatever shapes show clear Of loneliness of fear - Though fire falls from the skies Until it blind me quite I will not shut my eyes. “ The Raging Quiet” I chose this poem as I felt that it related to the feelings and thoughts of Raven, one of the main characters of the novel “The Raging Quiet”. Raven is deaf. When I imagined myself being him, not being able to hear, I thought how empty life would be without many ways to communicate. Your sense of security would be taken away from you when you closed your eyes. I could imagine Raven thinking “I will not shut my eyes”. Furthermore, the language used in the poem connects with the time period when the book was set with its word usage: “Yea”. So the poem connects with the language and feelings of the novel.
    21. 22. Success depended on: <ul><li>Students’ perception of how much choice they had in which book to be read. The greater the level of choice and the more democratic the decision about group reading, the higher the level of ownership of the task. </li></ul><ul><li>The suitability of the text to students’ reading ability . Used pre-testing reading levels of ascertained students to determine texts used. Where teachers pre-read books and chose books which they thought were most suitable for their students, the better the match of book to reader. Teacher help with group work was also enhanced. </li></ul><ul><li>Composition and dynamics of the group . Groups of similar reading age worked best; teachers were divided in their preference for same/mixed sex groups. Ascertained student groups were accompanied by full-time learning support teacher/aide. (Parent?) </li></ul><ul><li>Group reporting back to the class, self and peer assessment improved group responsibility. An eagerly anticipated focus time at the end of the lesson gave each group the opportunity to showcase their best work. </li></ul><ul><li>Enthusiasm of the teaching team!! </li></ul>
    22. 23. Changes we made: <ul><li>Year 8 – Early in year (Term 2 or 3); Year 9 – Term 4; </li></ul><ul><li>Students receive a school-produced booklet detailing roles and giving examples; </li></ul><ul><li>More modelling of work through displays; </li></ul><ul><li>More teachers to pre-read books  teacher “ownership” of certain books; </li></ul><ul><li>Greater emphasis on themes of book in preparation for final task; </li></ul><ul><li>Year 9 students were given a choice of 19 roles instead of 6, leading to greater creativity. </li></ul><ul><li>Lesson divided into more discreet timeframes eg “You have 20 minutes to complete group discussion…” </li></ul><ul><li>Structured journal completed each week. </li></ul><ul><li>Reporting procedure at end of lesson. </li></ul>
    23. 24. Year 9 Activities – Poet <ul><li>Write a poem, which relates to one of the themes of the book. Explain how it relates to your book. </li></ul>
    24. 25. Psychologist <ul><li>Analyse how the themes of the book relate to teenagers today. Why should teenagers read this book? </li></ul>
    25. 26. Craftsman <ul><li>Create a mobile that represents a major concept in the novel. Include a short written piece that explains your mobile, its parts and what they mean. </li></ul>
    26. 27. Creator <ul><li>Create an artistic interpretation (paint, pencil or collage) of something in a chapter you have just read. You must include a written explanation of your work. </li></ul>
    27. 29. Designer : Make a two-sided CD cover for an album of four songs related to your book.
    28. 30. Detective : Make a police identikit of one of the characters from your book/novel. Which passages of the book gave hints about your character’s appearance?
    29. 31. Results of reading programmes! <ul><li>It’s OK to read! </li></ul><ul><li>Introduces teenagers to books they might like. </li></ul><ul><li>Student ‘ownership’ of their reading – content, genre of book, level of language. </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitates discussion of themes and issues with friends. </li></ul><ul><li>Legitimises a set time in class for reading. </li></ul><ul><li>More extension reading is occurring in the Middle School…series, theme, author etc. </li></ul><ul><li>More teacher input – refining activities, use of modelling, new LC book recommendations. </li></ul>
    30. 32. Vocabulary & grammar improvement <ul><li>Research says: </li></ul><ul><li>“ If children read 1 million words in a year, 1,000 words will be added to their vocabulary. Reading 1 million words in a year is easily attainable by children.” – Stephen Krashen </li></ul><ul><li>What do our students say? </li></ul><ul><li>77.3 % say their spelling is at least as good as before their reading program. </li></ul><ul><li>36% say their spelling has markedly improved. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Having reading time gives us a better vocabulary.” </li></ul>
    31. 33. Year 8s – Pre & Post reading programmes 6% increase in students reading once a week or more. 28% of students say they are reading more. No change to number of students who never read.
    32. 34. Literature Circles has encouraged me to read because… “… it gets you interested in books and you find great ones.” “ I found that if you pick a good book it can be quite enjoyable.” “… you have to read to be part of the activity.” “ You have to read because your group is relying on you.” “ I never knew that books are that good.” “ I never read at home unless I have to for school.” “ I didn’t really get into books but I do now.” “ Having a home run experience appears to typically lead to greater reading interest…” Stephen Krashen
    33. 35. Home run books <ul><li>“ Home run experiences are different </li></ul><ul><li>for different readers.” – Ujiie </li></ul><ul><li>“ Home run books are not necessarily </li></ul><ul><li>‘ quality’ books.” – Ujiie </li></ul><ul><li>Comics OK </li></ul><ul><li>Magazines OK </li></ul><ul><li>Minimum censorship </li></ul><ul><li>‘ easy’ & ‘hard’ books OK </li></ul>
    34. 36. But non-readers can be hard to move… <ul><li>“ It is disturbing, however, that so many once-enthusiastic readers became less enthusiastic. This suggests that something happened to dampen enthusiasm for reading after the initial positive experience, what J. Kim has called a ‘strike-out’ experience.” Kim, 2001 </li></ul><ul><li>“ I just hate reading.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have more important things to do.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Books don’t interest me.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’m to (sic) busy.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’d rather do something outside.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’m just lazy.” </li></ul><ul><li>(I don’t read more) “…becuase I don’t injoy it.” (sic) </li></ul>
    35. 37. Other reading initiatives at Aquinas <ul><li>Make Literature Circles only ONE of the reading initiatives you run… </li></ul><ul><li>Readers’ Cup – run with all Year 8s; </li></ul><ul><li>Readers’ Quest – voluntary for all college community, including parents and teachers; </li></ul><ul><li>Request book; </li></ul><ul><li>Promotion of staff as reading mentors; </li></ul><ul><li>Quizzes, competitions, promotions; </li></ul><ul><li>Reading lists for curriculum areas; </li></ul><ul><li>Genre lists; Bookmarks; </li></ul><ul><li>Displays; </li></ul><ul><li>Special events… </li></ul>
    36. 38. “ Dedicated reading areas signify value.” - Aidan Chambers
    37. 39. Author talk – David Harris
    38. 40. Enjoy the fun and challenge of Readers’ Cup
    39. 41. Writing Workshops with Archie Fusillo & James Roy Author Talk - Markus Zusak
    40. 42. Build a reading climate!