In the age of preparing kids for college and career, it is essential that kids read longer and stronger! Providing alternatives to reading groups or additions to reading group, can help to accomplish this lofty goal.
As teachers we all aspire to have our kids really “get into” a book and love it so much that all they want to do is read and talk about it! Turning on some kids is pretty tough but with choice may bring enlightenment! That is precisely why I love literature circles! Providing kids with choices in what they want to read will hopefully provide a vehicle to other literature!
Eventually we want all kids to just talk intelligently about books but first we have to scaffold their learning by identifying key roles in a literature circle and modeling what that looks like.
The roles included here are: Director of Discussion, Passage Picker, Fact Finder, Skillful Sketcher, Wordsmith, and Time Tracer. I have created posters you can initially use when teaching the roles and responsibilities. I have also created mini-task cards or role cards that can be laminated and put on a ring for each group or each member so that they will have a quick reference as to what they are to be doing before and during lit circle.
I have also created Literature Circle Preparation sheets. Even though I am not a fan of worksheets per se, it is important that the kids start off with a way to organize their thoughts prior to coming to lit circle so they can speak intelligently about what they have learned and questions they have.
Another important element in a lit circle is discussion moves and how to be a respectful and present member of the group. I have created posters and mini cards that have both Discussion Moves and Rules of Lit Circle.
Also as a part of this product is a self and group evaluation. Kids can complete at the end of each meeting to rate themselves and how the group functioned together, as well as ways to improve for the next meeting. Self-reflection is one of the most powerful ways to Illicit change!
A brief summary of each role is as follows:
Director of Discussion-Summarizes the previous reading up to the current reading; poses questions to the group to move the discussion along; sets the date for the next meeting and proposes the amount to be read by the next meeting
Passage Picker-Finds interesting passages to share with the group and leads the group back into the book (Oh, so Common Core!) They look for examples of literary devices (symbolism, metaphors etc.) used and connect them to an element of literature (plot, setting, character)
Fact Finder-does some background research on a topic from the book, whether it be the setting or names used in the book or other interesting info to share with the members.
Time Tracer-keeps track of the action and the settings through visuals and/or description in the selected reading.
Wordsmith-finds and locates interesting words or phrases and determines their meaning to share with the group.
Skillful Sketcher-Prepares a sketch from the assigned reading to essentially capture the most important part of the reading.
As I stated this is a brief description and the posters and cards provide more detail.
I have seen many forms of literature circles and this is not a prescription of how it should be but how it could be. You, of course, are the boss of your class and will run lit circles way you wish!
Kids love lit circles and changing roles throughout a book. It provides everyone with an equal opportunity to try out all roles and responsibilities! I would recommend this product for elementary age readers in grades 3-5 but for more advanced readers in third grade.
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