These documents, in both PDF and Word document form, provide everything you need to make literature circles work. This unit was designed for use with a novel, but it could be easily adapted for many purposes. Inside you'll find justification for why literature circles are effective, discussion rubrics, student handouts, and reflection guides.
When I run my literature circle units I create groups of four so that each student is doing a different job every day. This encourages students to truly discuss the text rather than simply look for answers. If you copy the "Reading Response Log"/"Discussion Self Reflection" sheet onto the back of each job paper the students will be set and ready to do some discussion prep work (Reading Response Log), some during discussion work (their assigned job), and some post-discussion self reflection. During the small group discussions the teacher can easily use the grading rubric to tally student behaviors and later provide specific reasons as to why students discussed effectively or not.
Skills students will acquire for literature analyzation are close reading for character development, important passage recognition, summarization, and higher order question writing.
The best thing about a well-done literature circle unit is that students are able to guide themselves through the text with the help of their peers instead of so much hands on instruction from the teacher.