Susan Edwards’ Third Grade Class
Bellerose Avenue Elementary School
East Northport, New York

Having done literature circles on different grade levels and in different ways (special roles, assigned sheets, post-its, whole class-same book, leveled groups, interest groups, author study groups), this was the first time I organized literature circles without sheets or assigned special roles. 

The children were experienced with independent reading and then writing about what they were thinking and feeling.  They had maintained a reader’s response journal where they wrote questions, conclusions, connections and extensions about what they were reading.  They also wrote about their strategies and thoughts as a reader.  The children wrote weekly letters to me discussing the book they were reading.  As I responded in their journals, I was able to encourage deeper responses.  I insisted on detailed descriptions of their feelings, visualizations and inferences.  With this written dialogue and conferences, I assessed their comprehension and their growth as a reader and writer.   

Students could also write reader response letters to someone in class.  The children would “buddy up” to recommend and discuss books.   

Because of these experiences, Literature Circles had a solid foundation and seemed a more genuine outgrowth of the previous groundwork.  Now we were extending and widening these discussions.   

·        Groups were organized by level and interest. 

·        Reader’s Response Journals were maintained. 

·        Post-its with quick jots were used in books to remind students of a special page, passage, incident or character to discuss.

·        Decisions were made as a group as to how many pages a night would be read

·        Students pledge to be responsible and respectful to the Circle, read the agreed pages, use post-its and come prepared for discussions

·        Before the book discussion would begin, students sat in actual circles with knees touching.

·        Students practiced complete listening to the speaker.

·        The next speaker must respectfully comment on what the last speaker said or ask a follow-up question.  This promotes listening skills and real discussion. 

·        Each member would have an opportunity to share their thoughts and build on what was already shared

 The class was shown the Literature Circle Site and examples of some different types of projects from other classes.  They were inspired and the Literature Circle Groups discussed best project choices as it pertained to their particular book.  Decisions were based on the majority wish.  The Circles decided on each member’s participation and responsibility with the completion of the project.

 In addition to the different projects, each group wrote a summary of the book and created a graphic organizer for one concept from the book.


©  Susan Silverman - Literature Circles Extension Projects