Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What Works Wednesday in May

I have been using Literature Circles or Book Clubs for many years. When we reviewed our Language Arts Curriculum two years ago, we built in Literature Circles. We have more than thirty different set of classroom novels. Over the years, I have used bonus points, grants, and swaps to add another thirty sets of small group novels. I have two reading groups with readers from second to high school reading levels. Some of the time, we do read a novel as a whole class and grade level. Other times, students choose the novel they want to read.

Currently, I have four circles going in my homeroom. My co-teacher is responsible for working with one group. I meet with the other three. I developed role sheets for them. One group liked the reading response sheets I used with them during Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman. They wanted their own sheets to make their own response sheets. They use the question fans from Jen Runde. They also use a set of depth of knowledge question stems.

My other reading class has five different circles going. Three of the groups are using my role sheets. The other two groups are using my reading response sheets. They didn't want to make their own questions, so they are using my More Reading Response Sheets for Any Novel.

I like to use literature circles because it allows students to read the whole story. Our anthology only has a chapter or two of any story. It acts as a transition to reading literature in middle school, where students have less guidance. It gives me freedom to meet with small groups of students. It allows students to group themselves by reading levels or interests. When the weather starts to warm, as it has been the last week, it lets me send groups to the hall or courtyard. (When it is warm, we do better when we can spread out).

I  review the rules for the reading to self, talking about what reading should look like and sound like. We also go over the rules to the courtyard to keep students from climbing trees, playing in the pond, or bothering the "neighbors".

Do you use Literature Circles or Book Clubs?

1 comment:

  1. Marcia, I loved reading about your post on literature circles. I am a 5th grade teacher and have been teaching 5th grade for 3 years. I started my first year doing literature circles. However, I was not a pro like you. I was running four literature circle groups, using two novels. I enjoyed using the literature circles and I like that it gives the student's ownership for their learning. I also like the jobs involved in literature circles and that it helps promote responsibility and communication.

    The next two years in 5th grade, I did not do literature circles as I was implementing the Daily 5 program in my classroom. I used Daily 5 in my classroom for two years. I like Daily 5 in that it allows students to build up their stamina in reading and allows them to work independently. I also like that Daily 5 lends itself to conferencing one-on-one with students. During the conferences, students learn about different reading strategies that they can use when reading independently.

    After doing Daily 5 for two years, I like the program, but dislike that it does not allow for the collaboration and higher level thinking needed in an upper grade classroom. So, I am thinking about going back to using literature circles in my classroom for the next school year. Like you said, the anthologies do not allow the students to read an entire novel. Using literature circles allows for higher level thinking, communication, and collaboration. I hope that the next school year I can work better at literature circles and have a variety of novels going on at the same time. Thanks for sharing your ideas.


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