My students are participating in Literature Circles this term. This has been introduced in response to a need – it is a way for students to analyse and discuss texts with the support of others, and to encourage accountability for deep comprehension and critical thinking about literature.
The focus is not on the book, but on the reader’s response to the book, and the strategies being developed.
Read more about Literature Circles here.
In our literature circles, students meet in non-levelled groups that are formed by book choice. The students take on a role for their group which rotates every week. They meet in their literature circles every Friday to engage in discussion about the book and set a “read up to here” goal for the following week. The roles (based on current student needs and which will be added to and changed over time) are:
- Discussion Director – writes and facilitates discussion around questions they have come up with. We use Anthony Speranza’s complex question matrix to develop these questions. They also manage the discussion and make sure every member of the group contributes equally.
- Passage Picker – notes and questions passages of text that are interesting, confusing, funny, emotive etc.
- Word Wizard – notes and defines interesting or unfamiliar words. They share them with the group and each person adds these to their personal dictionary/word collection.
- Super Summariser – writes a brief and interesting summary of the key points of the text, to share and consolidate with the group.
In my class, these roles have been initially tasked to one student, but over time I intend for each student to take on all these roles (and others!) as they read, share, question and strengthen their understandings with their group.
The roles will develop where needed. For example, if I find that students are struggling with making text connections, we will introduce a new role. If they are lacking in the use of punctuation to build understanding or phrasing, we will introduce the Punctuation Pal (or something less lame that the kids will come up with!).
The use of a shared Google Slide for each group is critical in providing a collaborative space for students to note their thinking and to share their ideas with their circle. They are each in charge of their own role-related page and spend the week collecting evidence and ideas to share with their team. I can easily see their thinking and track how each student is progressing. It provides a simple way for me to ascertain which students need support in which strategy, and informs my strategy groups.
Google Slides allows team members to add ideas to other’s pages. For examples, this week’s Word Wizard would primarily focus on noticing and collecting interesting words, but might come across a mind-blowing paragraph that they just can’t forget, so they add it to the Passage Picker slide.
A Passage Picker will use interesting passages and phrases as a discussion prompt to build understanding of the text.
The slides I use are here – I encourage you to create your own for you specific needs.