Circles are a wonderful way for students to enjoy reading while
practicing a variety of important literacy skills. I have used
Lit Circles in a variety of ways with second and fourth graders
over the past several years - with teacher chosen titles and
student selected titles, whole class stories and books and small
group stories and books, specific role sheets and sticky note
comments - depending on the needs of my students, available
texts and time, and the skills of the teacher. :-)
my fourth graders have had three previous rounds of Lit Circles.
The first was an introductory session using book sets from the
hilarious Junie B. Jones series, the second from sets of
realistic fiction titles where 9-10 year old children faced
challenges in their lives, and several historical fiction titles
about life in the 1800s for the third round.
Literature Circle Extension Project, I chose four mysteries -
Bunnicula and The Celery Stalks at Midnight by James Howe, The
Boxcar Children Book #1 by Gertrude Chandler Warner, and Day of
the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne - because the genre fit the
strategies of inferring and questioning that my students are
working on at this time.
this Lit Circles session, I introduced the books that were
available for the round and students had a day to browse through
the choices. Next they filled out a sheet with the book titles,
indicating their preferences by numbering the titles #1 through
#4. Generally students get their first or second choice for Lit
Circles but the number of students choosing certain titles and
the number of books I have available also need to be considered.
used Literature Circle Role Sheets from Laura Candler's site to
help focus their thinking and extend their comprehension as well
as the subsequent discussion. However, they were also encouraged
to extend the discussion by using follow-up questions, asking
partners to explain their comments, sharing connections, and so
met on Day 1 and decided which pages they would read over the
five days scheduled for Lit Circles then made a written response
schedule so that members could rotate easily through the roles
of Predictor, Connector, Comprehension Monitor, Visualizer, and
Summarizer. Next, students read their assigned pages or chapters
for Day 1 and completed individual role sheets.
On Day 2,
students began by discussing what makes a good literature circle
discussion with their groups - the four groups' ideas are posted
on their Extension Projects pages. Next they met in their
discussion groups and shared their role sheet comments, then
went on to read the day's assignment and complete that day's
On Day 3,
we talked about how to extend a Lit Circle discussion beyond the
role sheets, using Laura Candler's questioning sheet to develop
similar questions that fit their books - then students were off
reading and responding to their texts.
On Days 4
and 5, students had their Lit Circle discussion at the beginning
of class when I observed and assessed individuals on their
preparation and participation for that day. Students also
completed self evaluations reflecting on their own reading,
written comments, sharing with their group, and response to
group members during discussion time.
following Monday, I presented groups with a list of Extension
Projects for their group to consider. A book review was required
because one of the writing focuses for the year is persuasive
writing. Additional project ideas included: poem, song,
commercial, letter to character, diary of character, portrait of
character, map, scene, interview, biography, and newspaper
article. Groups of 5 students were required to do a book review
then had a choice of at least one additional project. Groups of
6 students were required to do a book review along with a choice
of at least 2 other projects. This provided students a choice of
activities and work partners but also ensured that everyone
would be involved in the project over the next two days.
Students met in their Lit Circle groups to decide who was going
to do what - then met with me for the final OK!
spent the next two classes working on their projects which
included book reviews, a commercial about a book, scenes from
two of the books, a map from the book, and a song about a book.
They were very involved in their work with lots of talk about
how to best present the book they read to their audience via the
project web page. On Wednesday, students finished up their
projects and presented their work to the rest of the class - a
bit of practice in public speaking.
to email us with any questions about how Lit Circles work in our
class. Click on the titles to enjoy the wonderful work done by
4K at Richards School in Whitefish Bay, WI!