literature circles is my favorite way to teach literature to
my 6th grade Honors Language Arts class. Though they have
not been exposed to this method before coming to my class,
they take to it easily because they enjoy working together
in small groups.
study of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, I divided
the class into discussion groups of 4 or 5 students. I did
not assign roles to the students. Instead, they came to
discussion groups with Post-it notes marking their
questions, Golden Lines, and comments they wanted to share.
I usually monitored each discussion group by sitting
slightly apart from the group and making anecdotal notes
about each studentís participation. The rest of the class
worked independently on their literature response journals,
reading and marking the novel, or completing other
assignments including online work (see the Number the Stars
interesting variation I tried this year was to require that
all independent reading for Accelerated Reader (SSR) be
about World War II. This gave them many different reference
points that often surfaced in their discussions
(text-to-text connections). They gained a broader view of
WWII and a better understanding of the historical
significance of Number the Stars.
this age love to work collaboratively and to make their own
choices. After completing the novel, I allowed them more
freedom: they could create an extension project from a list
of suggestions or come up with their own ideas. They could
work alone, with a partner, or in a group of three
students. Work was done outside of class. Their amazing
projects included a series of illustrations for the book, a
mobile, CDs with adapted and original lyrics, board games,
two websites, and a wonderful Readerís Theater
script/performance of a scene where Annemarie and Ellen met
again as teenagers in Sweden.
are now beginning non-fiction research on WWII to pursue
related topics of their own choosing (concentration camps,
true Holocaust stories, military campaigns or weapons,
political leaders, life in American during this period,
Allied and Axis powers) in the process of writing a research
paper. They will continue to meet in groups to share new
knowledge and assist each other in the research process.
(For more information, see the Research Links and Research
Assignments page on my website. These pages will change
frequently as we progress through the unit.)
kids went all out - they even learned to sew. The game
pieces were bandannas sewn around film canisters - the
object was to rescue the Jews in hiding.