Mrs. Madden's Second Grade Class
Blythe Academy of Languages
Greenville, South Carolina


When I first introduce literature circles in our 2nd grade classroom, we read one book as a class and discuss the different roles involved with literature circles. Each day everyone in the classroom completes the same role as we talk about this role in depth. This process ensures that each child will know exactly what to do when he/she is assigned a role in a small group. The roles that we use in our classroom include: Discussion Director, Cool Connector, Super Storyteller, Artful Artist, Passage Performer, and Wacky Word Finder. (Feel free to download these Microsoft Word Documents to use with your students. Worksheets may be printed out or students can type their answers.)  Once students are familiar with the expectations for each role, we decide on a theme or author to study.
For this project, we decided to read books by Patricia Polacco. We made this decision for several reasons: students had just completed reading Thunder Cake in their basal readers and really enjoyed it, many students are familiar with Patricia Polacco and showed an interest in reading more of her books, and Patricia Polacco is a favorite author of mine and I knew that would be contagious! We began by reading Thank You, Mr. Falker. Through reading this book, I was able to introduce background information on Patricia Polacco with the students and peak their interests in her as an author. Students are always fascinated to find out that this famous author could not read until she was in 5th grade! While we read Thank You, Mr. Falker, students completed one role each day. After completing all of the roles with this story, students wrote letters to a favorite teacher thanking him/her for helping them with something that was hard for them. Students addressed envelopes for their letters and we sent them on their way. This was a great extension project to review writing friendly letters and addressing envelopes and it will be a pleasant surprise to a teacher who had a lasting impact on one of my students!
After completing the "guided" literature circle introduction, students were ready to choose their own books for literature circles. I chose books on various levels and books that I knew students had enjoyed tremendously in the past as book choices for our project. The following books were provided for literature circle choices: Chicken Sunday, My Rotten-Red Headed Older Brother, Some Birthday!, Just Plain Fancy, Aunt Chip and the Triple Creek Dam Affair, and The Keeping Quilt. Only four of the books would be used in our literature circles, but I wanted to give students a bigger selection, but the four books with the most "votes" would be the ones used. These books were left out for students to preview the week before. Students were given ballots to make their top three choices and literature circles were assigned (using the ballots as a guide) by the teacher.
Students worked in literature circles each day for approximately 30 minutes. Students read the book (or portions of it) and discussed it. We used "talking sticks" (pencils w/ fancy erasers) to help keep discussions controlled. The Discussion Director was in charge of keeping the discussion going and giving the talking stick to members to share ideas. Only the person with the talking stick was allowed to speak. This helped ensure that all members could have a chance to share their ideas without interruption. After reading the book and having discussions (20 minutes each day) the students worked on their individual role sheets (10 minutes each day). During this time the teacher moved from group to group to help facilitate discussions and guide students in thinking and asking "fat questions".
It took most groups three days to complete the reading of the book, role sheets, and group discussions. Once this was completed, students began to think of their extension project. Ideas were handed out to each group based on their book choice. Students were allowed to choose one of these ideas or use an idea of their own! Students completed a "Project Plan" sheet to turn in to the teacher.
Next, students gathered in their literature circle groups again for a final discussion about the book read. During this discussion, students presented to the group the work completed in their roles. Each student completed a Roles Recording Sheet to summarize the work completed by their group.
Once the extension projects were approved by the teacher, students began independent or partner work on extension projects. This took a few days. Once these were completed, groups presented their projects to the class as a whole. All students were also assigned an extension project by the teacher for this particular literature study. Each student was asked to design a new cover for his/her book. The cover needed to include an illustration on the front and a story summary on the back. Students then made their face and hands out of construction paper. These were placed in the hall for a display of our literature circle study. The end look showed the students' heads peeking over the new book covers which were held by the hands. Students wrote their opinions of the books on a speech bubble to try to encourage other students in the school to read some of these fascinating stories! What a great reading experience! Students were graded on their work in the literature circles using a rubric.
Related Resources
The official website of Patricia Polacco
South Carolina Language Arts Standards


Demonstrate the ability to use a variety of strategies to derive meaning from texts; begin reading texts fluently


Demonstrate the ability to read independently for extended periods of time to derive pleasure

and to gain information.


Demonstrate the ability to make connections between texts read independently and his or her prior

knowledge, other texts, and the world.


Demonstrate the ability to identify the title, author and illustrator of a text.


Demonstrate the ability to retell stories.


Demonstrate the ability to recall details in texts.


Demonstrate the ability to ask and answer questions about texts.


Demonstrate the ability to make predictions about stories.


Demonstrate the ability to draw conclusions and make inferences.


Demonstrate the ability to summarize the main idea of a particular text.


Continue using graphic representations such as charts, graphs, pictures, and graphic organizers as information sources and as a means of organizing information and events logically.


Demonstrate the ability to respond to texts through a variety of methods, such as creative dramatics, writing, and graphic art.


Demonstrate the ability to compare and contrast the information, ideas, and elements within a single text;

begin comparing and contrasting his or her findings on a particular topic after having extracted that

information from two or more pieces of graphic or written material.


Demonstrate the ability to identify and describe characters, setting, and plot in a literary work.


Begin comparing and contrasting settings, characters, events, or ideas in a variety of texts.


Continue identifying problem and solution in a work of fiction or drama.


Begin summarizing the theme of a particular text.


Begin identifying elements of style such as word choice and sentence structure (syntax).


Begin identifying author's purpose in a variety of texts


Demonstrate the ability to use a dictionary and a thesaurus to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words

and to find alternate word choices.


  Susan Silverman - Literature Circles Extension Projects