Sue Manne
Reading Specialist
University Lake School
Grade 5

Hartland, Wisconsin

The fifth grade social studies curriculum at University Lake School includes the study of the founding of our country. As part of that study the students generally read Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia by Margaret Cousins or Benjamin Franklin by Carol Greene, if they need an easier text, to gain greater insight into one of the founding fathers and a view of the historical events as they happened in one manís life. The students read Benís biography in literature circles. The students are familiar with literature circles where each student has a separate job, but for this experience I wanted them to have more of an equal discussion with every student bringing in ideas and questions. I made each student responsible for not only reading the assignment but also bringing a discussion question, a passage they found interesting or had trouble understanding, and words that were troublesome or interesting to the group. A worksheet that is an adaptation of one found on the Literature Circles Resource Center site was used.

The students broke into groups of three or four so there would be more time for each student to discuss points they wanted to address. The students spread out in the room and cubby area to meet. Their groups were fluid, which allowed them to hear the opinion of all the students in the class at some point of the book.

Students enjoyed this format for literature circles. In interviews afterwards the students stated that it was better when each person could bring up ideas and vocabulary to discuss.

Students look back into the book for context clues as they work to understand unfamiliar words.

When the students read that Ben liked to create rebuses, stories that substituted pictures for words, they too wanted to create one. The fifth graders are buddies to our junior kindergarteners so it was decided that the students would make a story for their buddy.

As a final extension project the students were to create a visual that depicted an important event or events in Benís life. They were to have a written component which explained the importance of the event to Benís life and/or ours. The students created a variety of items, including mobiles featuring Benís inventions, a model of a printing press, an odometer, and his stepladder chair, games on Benís life, and various dioramas.

Mobile of Inventions

Game on Benís Achievements

A Working Model of an Odometer

     A Game on Benís Life

Click HERE for a Literature Circles Discussion Log. (word document)

Click HERE  for a Literature Circles Discussion Log.  (pdf format)

©  Susan Silverman - Literature Circles Extension Projects