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Literature Circles

Compiled By: shazam

Here are some ideas for implementing literature circles in your classroom.

Lit Circles
Posted by: Tracy

Literature Circles are discussion groups made up of students who are reading the same book. The way I do lit. circles is I choose 5 books that I feel are interesting for the students. I read the back of the book to give them an idea of what each story is about. Then I let them choose what books they want to read. In lit. circles all of the group members are reading the same material. During lit. circle meetings they, as well as I, discuss the book. I am usually just and ear listening or guiding for higher level thinking. The students run the conversation, basically. I don't do it first thing in the morning because my district sets up how we use our time. I may do this during our guided reading time, after the mini-lesson, etc. I would never use it at the end of the day, because I want to calm them down to dismiss them and it just won't work with the students I've had in the past. I hope I've answered some of your concerns.

Literature Circles
Posted by: Mary in MA

The program you are describing sounds like Literature Circles. I have used this format very successfully at both the fourth and sixth grade levels. Each group (I assigned 4-5 students, preferably of mixed reading ability, per group) was using the same trade book, although in the original concept each used a different novel. The students assumed a different "job" each day, on a rotating basis: discussion director, vocabulary specialist, investigator/connector, passage picker, and illustrator. They each read the assigned pages/chapters and complete a"job sheet" specific to their role for the day. When they are finished within the group with their individual tasks, they discuss what they has taken place within the story. The person who is the discussion director for the day has composed 5 questions to be discussed by the group which go beyond mere facts or details; these questions are supposed to get the students thinking about cause and effect, character analysis, motivation, etc. at a higher level. The teacher's job is to facilitate discussions within the groups, only if needed. I would usually work with one or two groups per day and once a week have a whole class discussion of the story. Literature Circles allows the kids to be in charge of their own learning and assessment takes place both individually and as a group.

Overall, I found this program to be an excellent way to get the students really involved with the reading and, by rotating the jobs each day, they all developed skills in looking at the story from different perspectives. Best of all, the children really enjoyed it, to the point that they were VERY disappointed if other requirements prevented us from "doing Circles" on a given day.

Literature Circles
Posted by: Mary in MA

Hi, Mat!

The job requirements for each group memeber are as follows: 1.) Discussion Director composes 3-5 "fat questions" on the reading for the day. "Fat questions" are those that require higher-order thinking skills to answer, not just a fact or detail from the story (ex: Why did this character react to this particular event the way that he/she did? What makes you think so? Give evidence from the story). The Discussion Director also leads the group for the day in staying on task and in talking about the questions (he/she writes down the consensus of the group's answers). 2.) Passage Picker selects 1 or more paragraphs from the story to share with the whole group based on the importance/significance of that section to the story so far (this could be because it introduces a new character, describes a possible cause/effect, explains something not understood previously about the story, etc.) The passage might also be chosen because the Passage Picker likes the way it is written (lyrical language, exciting phrasing, funny, thought-provoking, great descriptions, etc.). The Passage Picker writes down the page number(s) of the passage and then writes what it is about the particular passage that made him/her select it. 3.) Word Specialist picks out, writes down, and defines (using a dictionary) at least 5-7 words that are unfamiliar, unusual, important from the section being read for the day. These are shared and discussed with the group who also enter them in their Reading journals as vocabulary for the story. It is essential to make the students understand that the person with this job must be THOROUGH in selecting ALL WORDS that may fit the category of Important/Unusual/Unfamiliar even if they think they already know the what the words mean. It is also essential to have the students use the dictionary and write down ALL the possible uses of the word so that when the group is discussing them they can decide which meaning is appropriate for the author's purposes. 4.) The Investigator/ Connector job may need the most support from the teacher because it requires the student to draw upon prior knowledge either from personal experience, previously-read stories, other known information sources to formulate conclusions about the story. This task may require some degree of research to further enhance understanding of the author's purpose. The teacher as facilitator may need to guide the students to think more deeply about something they have known, read, or experienced that is similar to what is going on in the current story. The Investigator/Connector writes down his/her connections and shares with the group who may also add input or conclusions of their own. 5.) The illustrator chooses something from the chapter to draw a picture about (something or someone significant). This could be about a turning point in the story. The picture should be in as much color and detail as possible. On the back of the drawing, the illustrator writes why he/she chose this subject to draw and what significance it has to the story. The explanation should be at least 1 paragraph long (depending on grade level). During the Group Share, the illustrator holds up the drawing for all memebers to see and elicits reactions/responses to the content of the picture. Only after the others have discussed it then the Illustrator shares what she/he has written about the picture.

As I stated in my earlier post, I have had excellent success using Literature Circles at both the 4th and 6th grade levels. If you are contemplating using it with younger children, you may have to adjust the job requirements to suit their capabilities. I have the job titles and tasks on large laminated posters which I keep hanging on the walls for reference. When I first introduce the program, I spend about a week or so per task modeling how the jobs should be done with the whole class doing the given job assignment. Once I feel secure that everyone understands the process, I break the class into smaller groups who will work together until the end of the story. In order to avoid controversy about whose turn it is to do which job, have all students write their names and the date on the task sheet each day. The person whose task it is should write his/her name and title first with the date, followed by the names and title of the other group members. My rule is that the jobs rotate on a daily basis and no one repeats a job until everyone in the group has gone through the rotation.

For assesssment purposes, you have the individual task sheets and the group consensus statements to work with. The hardest part for the teacher is to sit back and let the kids do it themselves. Once they understand how the process works, they are eager to get down to work and,since they know that their grade depends on individual as well as group participation, it is usually pretty easy to keep them on task. The best part is seeing how well they interact with the literature and get a deeper meaning from what they are reading.

Hope this helps.

Literature Circles
Posted by: danielle

I introduce Lit. Circles in October after the testing my state does in the beginning of the year. I use Cricket in Times Square to introduce the jobs. This takes about a week. The first day I go over the jobs ans explain what Literature Circles are and how they are done in my classroom. Everyday after that I read aloud a chapter from the book and we do one of the jobs. This is done with every job. I always review the job from the day before. This helps me get a feel for their understanding. I also have them write the job and description down in their Literature Circle folder so they can always go back to it.

We do a whole class book for the first Lit. Circles. I do Because of Winn Dixie. My kids loved it last year. Then later in the year my students are placed in groups by reading level and are given different books. They really liked this. They were able to discuss with the rest of the class their story.

I also have them reading at different times. For example: Groups 1 and 2 will be reading while groups 3 and 4 are discussing. This helps me spend time with every group.

I hope this helps. Any questions please email me.

Also I begin the year with an Adventure theme. We read James and the Giant Peach.
Some stories you can do are: Mouse and the Motorcycle, Chocolate Touch, Maniac magee, Ottis by Beverly Clearly, Adaline Falling Star.


literature circles
Posted by: shawna

I have done literature circles for a few years. I have used groups of 4 students, but only because I have had some pretty small classes. What I have done is either have the students read a chapter together or on their own for day 1. Each student is assigned a job for that chapter. When the students finished reading they would work on their job. The Discussion Director was in charge of the group. They were the teacher. They would also write 5 "fat" questions to ask the members of their group. Fat questions are ones that cannot simply be answered by referring back to the text. Sergeant Summarizer wrote a summary of the reading to share with the group. The Word Wizard would find 5 words that were difficult, interesting, or funny. They would write the page number down so that during the next day's discussion group,members could refer back to the word in the text. They would also define the word using a dictionary. The Connector was the person who had to write 3 connections between themselves and the reading. On day 2 of the circles, groups would meet and, under the direction of the Discussion Director, each would do their job. The Director would have the Summarizer go first and read the summary to refresh everyone's memory. Next, the Director would ask their questions and call on group members to answer. The group would have a discussion about the answer. Next, the Word Wizard would tell a word they wrote down and the group would find it in the reading. The Word Wizard would call on someone to define the word and the Wizard would tell them if they were correct. The Connector would share their connections next. When they finished, they would ask each member if they had any connections. We kept all of the students material in a folder. The next day, each member would get a new job in the group. I hope this helps!

Using Literature Circles
Posted by: Heather

Hi! I've been using literature circles in my class for 3 years now in 6th grade and this is what I suggest. I would not start off using literature circles. First, I would start off with some short stories to see where their reading ability is at. Next, I would read a whole-class book. Then I would incorporate literature circles. I like to model the whole procedure using a short story. Every student reads the short story silently. Then, each day (I have only 40 minutes each class) I introduce one role. The class then practices the role and I have them get in groups to discuss. I do this with each role sheet. I use 4-5 role sheets: a discussion director (one who asks critical thinking questions),a word wizard (looks up and teaches vocab words), a travel tracer (who describes the setting), an illustrator and a literary luminary (one who finds interesting paragraphs or sections to discuss) It takes about 1 1/2 weeks for them to become "experts" in each role. Hope this helps

Literature Circles
Posted by: Amy

I tape record my literature circles. The kids view this as a class and we discuss the positives and the negatives. Before I video tape, we have also had discussions as a class about what is going well and what we need to improve on. The kids will surprise you - they hit it right on the head.
Examples: too many people not taking turns
not really listening
running out of things to say
Things Going Well: someone encouraging someone else to speak up and share idea, someone bringning the group back (on task), and good discussions. My kids rate their other group members. I don't share who wrote what, but I do share overall generalizations about how they're doing based on their group members.

For my struggling readers, I coordinated with my Title 1 teacher and she offers a systematic sequential phonics/reading class for those kids who it isn't appropriate for them to join in with literature circles. One other thing that I have done is chose shorter, more on level (guided reading) books for those kids. They are still capable of responding to what they are reading AND then I can spend a short amount of time with them working on skills. I hope this makes sense. Feel free to ask me questions.

-- Strongest tool has been the video tape for me --very poweful!!!
Good luck
Amy Cameron

Literature Circles
Posted by: Donna

Literature Circles are great, I use them with my 6th graders. I am fortunate enough to have multple copies of almost any book I want--I will choose 6 different books and then allow the students to sign up for whichever book they choose. When I do this the books are usually around a certain theme that I am teaching. There are times that I allow the students to get into groups of 4 or 5 and choose the book they want to read. I have a great deal of success and use the Harvey Daniels book "Literature Circles Voice and Choice in the Student Centered Classroom." I agree that you can teach mini-lesson after mini-lesson with the small groups and it is very effective because it is connected to what they are doing at the moment. I also have no problem hooking the literature circles into the standards that I am to teach and great for assessment of students. You will like doing this method. Good Luck.

lit. circles
Posted by: Mary

I do literature circles with my sixth graders. I start off the year in levelled reading groups, and each group is in a book at their level. I write my own novel curriculums, because I hate the stuff the publisher comes up with, and I use my curriculums to model how to ask higher level questions. My handouts never have more than three questions on them for the given assignment. I ask stuff about identifying the metaphor, and questions that are a lot of "what do you think" , "What would you do" as well as finding the meaning of a word using only the context. Questions like that. Then, when we go to our next books, I boost them into literature circles, and I have them write the questions. I grade them on their questions for this second book, not their answers, as in the first book. I get them together in a circle and have them pass their questions to the right, and everyone writes an answer to the question in front of them, then pass, etc. This is called a silent discussion. Then have kids read the responses to the question they have in front of them, and let the kids react and discuss. The kids should direct their lit. circles and the discussions. It will take them a few times to learn to do it, and remember, I've modeled it first. This really teaches kids to take responsibility for their own learning, and it also teaches them how to really read and enjoy a book, not just call words, or answer a lot of dumb publisher questions (that often have nothing or little to do with the book).

This is just one way to do it, but it works for me. Mine is a demonstration classroom this year, for literature circles and differentiation. Lit. circles are among the best ways to differentiate instruction for your kids.

Good luck! What books are you planning to use? I like to pick about four, and have them all united with a common theme, such as survival or coming of age, stuff like that.

lit circles
Posted by: Lori

I love to do lit circles. Yes, it can be a bit of work, but I think it's worth it.

You can accomodate many different reading levels when doing lit circles by varying the levels of books that you have for choices. For example, in your class, if you were reading literature with an animal theme here are some ideas using AR leveling which is the way mt school levels books.

High Third Grade:
The Good Dog by Avi 3.7
Because of Winn-Dixie 3.9

Low Fourth Grade:
Stone Fox by Gardner 4.0
A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace 4.2

Mid Fourth Grade:
Shiloh by Naylor 4.4
SIlver by Whelan 4.5

High Fourth Grade:
The Cricket in Times Square by Seldan 4.9
The Trumpet of the Swan by White 4.9

Low Fifth:
Socks by Cleary 5.2
Dogsong by Paulsen 5.2

Now depending exactly where your students are you could pick one title from each level for them to choose from or pick two tiles from one end of the spectrum and three titles from the other end.

It is easier if you have read the books, but it's not "absolutely" necessary. I really prefer to have read the books myself, though. Book Talk your choices and arrange them from easiest to hardest on your chalk rail. Have the students write their first and second choices on a ballot. Now you try and give your students their first choice, but if your most struggling student picks Dogsong as his first choice and The Good Dog as his second choice, you would probably give him The Good Dog. But you want to try and have a good mix of students, too, and you can work other ways to get the reading done. For example, I had a student who desperately wanted to be in the Harry Potter book group, but he struggled. He could not read the book himself without becoming frustrated. I allowed him to read along with the book on tape and he was able to participate in discussion and had some great insights that many of the better readers did not have. It also encouraged him to listen to the other books in the series. He is now a fantasy book fanatic and is reading/listening to The Hobbit. He is also reading on grade level now.

As far as grades go, my students journal, do graphic organizers, sometimes projects related to their book -- both individually and as a group, and discussion grades. I have a rubric which makes grading discussion easier. When I listen in to the lit circle discussion I have the rubric handy with slots for each student. I can then check the box appropriate for each student for each category. Occasionally, I give a discussion prompt quiz where students write about what they read the night before. I do this before their lit circle meeting -- just to make sure they are reading.

The key to lit circles is to teach the procedures thoroughly when you begin using them. Teach students how to question and discuss. Once you have "facilitated" a few times and they know what to expect, remove yourself from the circle and get out of the way.

Hope that helps.

Lit Circles
Posted by: jane

I would suggest that you begin by having the whole class work with one short story and one role in a Literature Circle.(Discussion Director, Word Wizard, Literary Luminary, Capable Connector, Artful Artist, etc. Share respones and work as you continue to introduce and practice each role. Emphasize work that is a good model of what is expected. Post these samples on a literature circle bulletin board where you can also post each role along with that role's responsibilities.
After all the roles have been taught to the class, collect sets of picture books appealing to your grade level. Set up your literature circles and roles. Give a day to read the book and prepare for the circle. On the next day circles will meet and share their work. Rotate the sets of books from circle to circle. As the books are rotated, be sure each student is given a new role. When the rotation is complete choose your best students to come together as a literature circle to share and discuss the book of their choice. Use the "Fishbowl" technique where the students will observe the process. Then make a list with your students of what happens in a good literature circle. Post this on your bulletin board.
You might then choose one more short book or story for the class to do and ask every child to prepare the work for each role. This can be an assessment to reveal each student's strengths and weaknesses in the process.
Hopefully, after this long introduction your class is ready to spread their wings. Gather your novels/stories and give students a choice of what they would like to read. Form your circles as you deem best for ability, personality, behavior, etc.
The students should now stay with one book/story and be able to rotate the roles.
Your role will now be to circulate and facilitate as needed.
Enjoy the circles! Good Luck!

Literature Circles
Posted by: Amethyst

I plan to use Literature Circles this year too. First I'm going to go over some keys to a good discussion with my students. General expectations of listening carefully, looking at the speaker, using text ideas to support comments etc.

Next I will read a book to the entire class and model the first role of Discussion Director with the entire class. The next day I'd read another book and have all students break into groups and practice that role.

The process can be involved but there is structure you can develop. Check out... She has so much information on literature circles with forms you may find helpful as guides for your students.

Consider reading Literature Circles by Harvey Daniels. He also has a website.

I hope this helps.

lit circles
Posted by: Lori


I posted some about my lit circles in a post above that asked about them. As for implementing, I teach and structure extensively for the first 3-4 weeks of the school year. At the beginning of the year, I do lit circles everyday using read aloud picture books. I try to have only 4 groups to start with. Sometimes that means 6 students to a group and that is the absolute maximum, I allow to any group. I realy prefer 4 to 5 to a group.

I read the selection and teach the lesson that is to be emphasized that day -- good questions, good discussion etiquette, etc. Then I divide the class into the groups. I have 4 centers in the four corners of the room. One corner is the lit circle corner. At first, I am a part of the lit circle group. The other centers may be math, literature, science, or social studies related. In the beginning, the lit circles last 15 -20 minutes, it depends on the class. Every 15 to 20 minutes the timer goes off and the class rotates to the next center. This takes quite a bit of scaffolding during the first few weeks to help the students develop the independence and responsibility to do the centers.

I always pick the first novel and the whole class reads it but is divided into groups just like the picture books. Stone Fox is a good one or some other short novel since I try to get through the first novel during the first grading period. Sometimes it doesn't happen though.

After the first novel, I begin to teach the students how to pick a book for lit circles, again beginning with picture books and following the same schedule. After a week or so of practice choosing, they are ready to pick a novel.

At this time, the schedule changes and only one lit circle meets at a time, while the other groups read their novel or work at a more complex center activity. THe other groups work at a center each day. The last center is journal entry or some thing they do at their desk if I have five groups. I can have up to 5 groups with one group meeting each day for 30 minutes at first and building up.

Does that help any? It seems very long winded!


Posted by: karin

I do literature circles everyday. We meet and discuss roles and then they assign next role and read for the remaining period. Each group determines how much their group reads. It is usually 1-2 chapters. We have a flexable 40-45 minutes. (We also have DEAR time after lunch).
In lit. circles they each have a journal. I post roles on a huge sheet of oaktag in the front of room. When the group starts a new book, a leader is voted on and he picks a role of choice. Then the next person picks a role(usually to their left) and so on. The next day each takes the following role on the big sheet. (The one following their first choice) I picked roles from several role sheets that I thought were most useful in checking for understanding and comprehension. I always make sure they understand that I am looking for highorder thinking answers. I always have them include WHY they chose the answer they chose.
They sometimes choose their books and sometimes I have the same book for all if it is a good curriculum connection. Most choices are connected to something and there is always a way to manipulate their picks based on reading levels if you have a heterogenious group.
I divide the classlist up into groups of five for handing in journals. The first five on my class list hands in their journals on Monday, the next five hand in on Tuesday and so on. (depending on how many in your class). I have a big block of chalkboard that I taped off a planner similar to their own planners and write the days fo the week at the top of planner, on big tongue depressors in colors. For instance, yellow for Monday, green for Tuesday,etc. Then those kids who are Monday have a yellow circle sticker on their journal front cover, along with their name. They hand in their journal in a tub at the back of the room. I then collect theirs and return the next day. Does this make sense? Journals are a lot of work, but you have to correct their thoughts on their readings, and this is a great way to do it without taking 25 assignments home a day.
They usually can get their assignments, (roles and reading) done in class. However if they don't they take it home.
Some of the roles I can remember are:
1. What did you like about the chapter and what did you dislike and WHY?
2. Illustrate your favorite part, and explain WHY you chose it.
3. Write THREE high order questions for your group to discuss. (In your opinion, why, how, etc.)I use Blooms Taxonomy for guidelines)
4. Summarizer, write a concise summary of what they read. Main idea and details.
Finally, and don't grade this response, ha! I meet with one group everyday. I just sit in and listen and sometimes generate more conversation. I may also look at journals if they are running a good conversation on their own. I usually grade them on a four point scale, 4 being the most detailed and appropriate. Toward the end of the year I use the ABC scale on their responses because that is what they will get in middle school.
I use Blooms Taxonomy form for responses for everything, including math journals. They should always be thinking more critically. This helps it become automatic.
Have a nice day and hope this helps you.

Lit Circles and a question!
Posted by: JES

We have at least an hour for reading instruction. I usually try to limit Lit Circles to about 30 minutes; however, if more time is needed we take it. If we stick to 30 min. sessions, then we can have two Circles in one day, but I really do not want to feel like we have to rush.

While I meet with students in Literature discussion groups (circles), my other students are engaged in reading their predetermined section of their choice book and responding to what they read in their Literature Response Journals. If you use the Literature Circle roles, students will also need to prepare for their role in their upcoming Lit Circle.

I love coming back to the Busy Board and find a reply to something I've written. What a great way to exchange ideas.

Now I have a question. I loop with my students. I had them last year in 4th and will have them back again this fall in 5th. I love it because I already know some things to expect. Well, I already know that I have a few students (struggling and/or reluctant readers) who are very distractable and find it difficult to really "get into their books" while a Lit Circle is in progress. Here's what I tried with little success. We had quiet reading sessions Monday through Thursday. Then on Fridays we had all Circles meet simultaneously. My idea was to float from group to group monitoring discussions led by the students themselves. Of course this meant that I could not do the mini-skill lessons in small groups. HELP! Anyone have any ideas?

Re: Literature Circles
Posted by: KAM

True literature circles are really only appropriate for very high second graders on up. It really is best to start at third grade. The reason for this is that in first grade children are learning to read and not really reading to learn. Comprehension is such a huge part of literature circles and in first grade children are not ready for this part until almost the end of the year. I would ask your principal what he/she would expect out of first grade literature circles. Maybe he/she has a different definition of what they are or what he/she would expect to see in a first grade classroom.

lit. circles
Posted by: Susan

I started them by modeling how I wanted them to do each "job" of the lit. circles. We read a book together and they would have a different job each day - that we would go over together and they would do on their papers. The jobs included finding vocabulary, illustrating, etc... Then after that book was completed, and everyone knew how to do the jobs, I'd read the selections of books for their circles. I had 6 books - and they couldn't read them if they already had. After all books were selected, they picked their job for their group (no arguing or I picked for them). We then started by letting them write a journal entry on what they thought the book would be about - based on the cover and back of it. Then daily when they came to class they:
1. Wrote a journal entry about what they had read the day before.
2. Discussed the book in their group.
3. Read together (either round-robin or let one or 2 read - their group's choice)
4. Did their job for their group(turned in daily).

I told them how many pages to read per day, to keep them on track - and if they didn't read them, they had them for homework. After they were finished with the book, they decided on a project together - book report, skit, diarama, etc... They had fun with those. I didn't like the literature circles as much as reading with the whole class, but it was good to change things up occasionally.

Literature Circles
Posted by: NCP

I have used lit circles with high second grade readers before. I have them rotate the jobs every couple of days. The circles are nice because the kids can really take charge and make decisions. Here are the jobs I use: (I have these on cute posters, but I don't have them saved on this computer)

Director: this person directs the group by writing 2 or 3 questions about the reading. At first they ask a lot of direct questions (What happened when...?), but they can work up to questions like, How do you think they felt?

Summarizer: this person writes a summary of the story.

Illustrator: this person draws a photo from the book and then write a caption or sentence about why they choose it.

Word Detective: this person looks for 2-3 vocabulary words and gives them the definition.

Connector: this person makes connections to the text. These can be personal connections, world connections (outside of the classroom), or connections to other books.

Predictor: this person makes a prediction for the next chapter.

The kids read 1-2 chapters each time and then meet and share out the information. Then they can also work together to decide how much to read and when to rotate jobs. It takes a bit of work, but the kids can do it and really like the independence. Good Luck!:s)

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Literature Circles
Posted by: Debby

I love literature circles. I use the Iron Giant to model the first circle I do with a class making an Iron Giant in groups where they can only bring in materials that can be recyled. After that, I bring in copies of various novels from our library ( 4 of each novel ) and they pick the book they want to read. The students who pick the same novel make up the literature cirlce and after reading they make a group project to present to the class. They are evaluated on how they work in the group, what part they do in the oral presentation and what the finished project looks like. If you do this enough, they get to work with many of their classmates. It is really fun!

lit. circles
Posted by: Mrs. D

I do literature circles with my students using novels, and we don't use basals. I'm fortunate enough to teach at a school where we have multiple copies of books. For one group I usually pick about 3 novels on their reading level that I think they would be interested in. I tell them a bit about each story, they read the back summary, and look at the front picture to see what is most interesting to them (I believe in giving them some choice). When deciding on a book majority rules. I tell those picked a different book as their first choice that they may like to read it on their own.

I usually assign about 4 or so chapters (depending on the length of each chapter and reading ability of the students). If I feel they need more guidance I give them less to read. They are given about 2-3 questions per each reading assignment (not each chapter). I require their responses to be about a paragragh long, include examples from the book, and their own thoughts (text-to text, text to world, text to self connections among others). The questions couldn't be answered "correctly" (sometimes there are no right or wrong answers) by writing a sentence or two. They need to be thoughtful. One example from a recent book was, "What did Mr. Tilton mean when he referred to Alex as an unsung quiet hero?" and "Do you know anyone who could have been an unsung quiet hero? (Including yourself)"

They must also write down 2 words they didn't know, page number, what they think the word means, and then the dictionary definition.

Then they meet as a group (sometimes with me, sometimes I monitor by walking around, sometimes I'm with other groups) and discuss. We practice what a discussion should look like (not reading your answers, but talking to each other instead). Some teachers give each student a specific job in the group (I don't).

They have some pretty good discussions.

My school no longer uses basals (hasn't for about 4-5 years), and I enjoy using authentic novels. It can be a lot of work for me, because I have a lot of books to read myself, but I try to use the same books every year (with some different ones) so I'm not constantly reading chapter books.

I'm not sure what grade you teach, but I've done this with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.

lit. circles
Posted by: Rhonda

I have done lit. circles with 3rd and 4th graders and I found that they "catch on" very quickly and are very excited to be a part of them

I spend a whole day going over the "role sheets" with the class and we practice filling them out about a book or a chapter we have already read. This makes it clear as to what I expect and what a "good" role sheet looks like.

The next day we role-play an actual discussion with me as the Discussion Director. We talk about the "rules":all students must have a completed role sheet to come to the discussion, you must bring your book with you, you must take turns, the Discussion Director "runs" the group for the day, and you must participate.

Each student has a schedule and I also create a journal with a higher level thinking question for each chapter.

I alternate days. One day is a "work day" where they read the chapter(s) and do their role sheet. The next day is a "discussion day" where they meet w/ their group and discuss. Since each group gets done at different times, they are instructed to go back to their seat when they are done and work on their journal.

I wander the room and listen in on groups' discussions and also encourage appropriate behavior. I keep a check list of inappropriate behavior as well as students who really participate so they can also receive a grade for their discussion work.

It is a lot of work initally, but once they are started, Literature Circle run themselves.

I grade each role sheet with a rubric (usually 1 through 5) and I also let the students share their journal answers and use it as a topic for discussion.

Let me know if you want to see any of my role sheets, rubrics, a schedule, etc.

Hope this helps and I haven't gone on too much.

Literature Circles
Posted by: Cheryl

I went to a workshop a few weeks ago on "Literature Circles" and they suggested to have a three day cycle. (with three groups) On day one the students meet, day two and three they independently work on a written activity and they are also preparing for the next meeting. All three groups would be on a similar schedule starting at different points. This allows you to be available to observe one group each day. (you could make six groups and do it 2x a day) I haven't tried it myself but they said that this works after a few months of modelling. They also suggested teaching the elements of a story first and group skills. Hope this helps...Cheryl

Literature Circles
Posted by: Amy

I also did literature circles in my classroom this year and I had two groups going. I had them on a rotating day one group would be working and the other group would meet, then the next day it would switch. As the groups becaome more independent, I could leave the group that was discussing and become more available to the group that was reading. Another idea that I used last year was to place a tape recorder in the center of the group discussing. That way I could visually monitor them while I went around listening to the other group read, but I could also go back and listen to the tape if I felt that their discussion strayed from the topic!

Lit Circles
Posted by: Tabitha/5th

I plan on introducing lit. circles using a story from our basal with the whole class. Then I plan on using one book with the whole class and finally breaking them up into different lit. circles with different books. This will be my first year using them and I got a great book called "Literature Circles Using Student Interaction To Improve Reading Comprehension" by Creative Teaching Press. I got it at my local teacher store, but you can order it from as well.

I plan on using the following great books with my students this year:
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Bridge to Terabithia by Paterson
Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade by Barthe DeClements
Holes by Louis Sachar (Awesome book)
There's A Boy In The Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar
Farewell, My Lunchbag By Bruce Hale (Cute Mystery)
The Egypt Game by Zipha Keatly Snyder (mystery)
Hank The Cowdog by John Erickson
My Teacher Glows In The Dark by Bruce Coville (Science fiction)
Not sure on historical ficition yet, but I might use Goerge Washington's Socks by Elvire Woodruff.

I am acutally looking for historical fiction books around the Civil War. Anyone got a great book?

Literature Circles
Posted by: E

When my students read in literature circles, I often give them a set of cards that have discussion questions typed on them. I made these general questions up to match the comprehension skills we were working on in our basal. One set of cards has questions to be answered before reading and the other set has follow up questions. Examples: Name the main characters in the story. Which character is most like you? Tell why. Tell the setting for the story. Give the story another ending. How was the problem solved? My studetns draw a card and have to answer the question. Then others may comment on their answer if they wish. My studetns really enjoy these and they are a nice change from a response journal.

Lit circles
Posted by: Steve

Much of the management of my Lit circles is left up to the students. I have them meeting on Mondays & Thursdays. They are working on their role sheets at home or during their ILE time. Their reading gets done either during SSR, on their ILE time or at home. I try to stay out of their way as much as possible...I'm using lit circles as one part of my reading program. I want this to be their time to discuss books, connect with books, grow to love books the way that people who have read good books do. I've been able to have as many as 6 groups going at one time. This was possible because my kids were really engaged by their books...they were totally caught up in the charm, magic, impact and appeal of the literature. When that happens, the management takes care of itself.

I'm getting long winded. If you'd like to discuss this further, please don't hesitate to contact me. I'd love to know what materials you're using and how they are working.

lit circles
Posted by: mm

I have used literature circles in a second grade. The kids love them and feel very independent. My recommendation is to practice the "jobs" before you have lit circles all set up. For example, if you have a "word finder" job, have your whole class practice being word finder on a book you have read together. Take the time to practice each job before you have the kids do circles on their own. Make sure you mix up ability levels within the groups. If you are having each circle do the same book, you can call back the member of each group with the same job to check in with them. For example, call back all the discussion directors for a few minutes to let them work together or with you before reporting to their groups. It takes time but they work...hang in there with them and they will run smoothly! Good luck!

literature circles
Posted by: Nan

I am doing lit. circles with my special ed 6th graders. I also teach strategies. I will model the strategy, which in this case is questioning, with a read aloud. Then we will read a portion of the book I am reading and they will develop questions. then, they will read their group book and stop and write questions as they read. When they meet in their group they will discuss their questions. It is possible to combine strategy instruction with lit circles. Just make sure you spend enough time on the strategy, model everyday. I will have my groups do a story wheel and a story map as well as work on questioning. The strategy instruction is yoour lesson and they can apply it to an book that they are reading.

lit circles
Posted by: Christina

Here are the jobs and descriptions I use (and they are only to guide the group discussion):

The visualizer chooses a section of the passage read that they clearly visualized in their head. They draw a picture of it, and then write the words or phrases that helped them see the picture in thier mind.

The word watcher chooses interesting, or unknown words from the passage. They write what they think the meaning is, then look the meaning up in the dictionary, and write a synonym and antonym for each word.

The character sketcher lists the main characters, describes them, writes down noticings about their actions and dialogue, and their relationships with other characters.

The scence setter basically describes the setting.

The summarizer is in charge of summarizing and finding the most important events in the story.

I've seen other jobs out there like discussion director, and connection maker. There is tons of stuff on the internet. I just typed in "literature circles" into Google and found tons of stuff. I absolutely love lit. circles. GOod luck with them!

Literature circles
Posted by: Chris Young

I use literature circles in my sixth-grade reading class, and love them. It affords my students the opportunity to talk about what they are reading, hear what others are thinking, and to clarify some ideas. The roles my students use are discussion director, who develops a list of open-ended questions to discuss, connector, who finds connections between the book and their lives, another book, or in the outside world, literary luminary, who locates special parts of the reading to be reviewed, and illustrator, who draws a picture related to the reading. I have also has the vocabulary buster, who finds unfamiliar vocab. Hope this helps!

Literature Circles
Posted by: Beverly

Since it is often difficult to find enough
sets of books for my literature circles, I present the roles using our basal stories. That allows the students the opportunity to fine-tune their skills before they start using chapter books. I've found that some of my students are
overwhelmed by the mention of chapter books early in the year. Once they learn the literature circle
roles, they can comfortably move into chapter books.

literature circles
Posted by: Mrs. Hester

I have found that introducing one role at a time and practicing as a class really helps. Before you do this I would suggest a lesson and practice on what types of questions to ask when they are the discussion director. Literature circles are great and really help with student comprehension and ownership of their work, but you can't just put it in front of them and expect it to work. It needs to be introduced, modeled and practiced.

Hope this is of some help.

lit circles
Posted by: ciro

Hey Brittany-
You should get the book "Literature Circles" by Harvey Daniels. This is a great resource. In my classroom, each 5 member group had a job. I think they were discussion director, illustrator, literary luminary (expands on an interesting passage/excerpt and makes connections to it. Group members then make their own connections [t-s, t-t, t-w]), word wizard, and summarizer. Modeling takes a while because you have to explicitly model aspects of each job. You'll be surprised at how much conversation unfolds...The most important thing though is in book choice. I give my kids a choice of 5 or 6 books. For example, my first lit circles this year will use all roald dahl books. These books are hysterical. Also, students feel empowered because they are getting to make a choice about what they're reading.

Lit circles
Posted by: Debbie L.

I'll be glad to share how we use lit circles in our school. I start off the school year with the whole class reading the same literature book. This is so that we all understand how to write in our literature journals, get use to questions we ask, and for sharing. Then I break the class up into two books. Then we eventually get to the point where I have four different literature groups and each group has their own book they are reading. When you do whole class sets, you can also divide the class into four groups and work with each group during reading time. I hope this helps.
Debbie L.

lit. circles
Posted by: Christina

I absolutely love literature circles! At the beginning of the year, I had my group of high readers in one, so they would be experts for when the whole class started.

I just started my whole class last week. The groups are of mixed ability, and the students choose which books they want to read (I told mine to write their top 3 choices on a piece of paper from a group of 5 choices).

My groups meet 3 times a week. Monday and Wednesday they read and work on their jobs to prepare for Friday's discussion. I stress that the discussion is the important thing, not the role sheets. I don't want it to become a worksheet activity for them. I have 5 jobs, but there are a lot of jobs/roles out there. Just pick the ones best for your class. Mine are summarizer, visualizer, character sketcher, scene setter, and word watcher.

So far, it's going pretty good. My kids still need to get used to the concept of a natural discussion as opposed to just reading off their role sheets. Good luck!

Lit. Circles
Posted by: Jenny

I am using literature circles again this year. We just had our first round of meetings last week. The kids are really enjoying it. We are reading "Owls in the Family" by Farley Mowat. it is a fairly simple novel for all.
Other novel i have used are:
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Easy)
The Family Under the Bridge (easy)
A Cricket in Time Square (average)
Stone Fox (easy)
There's A Boy in the Girl's Bathroom (challenging)
Charlotte's Web (challenging)
The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles (challenging)
The BFG (average +)
This year I am also planning to use
Frindle (average)
The Whipping Boy (easy)
The Trumpet of the Swan (Challenging)
Bunnicula Strikes Again (Average)

I have purchased most of my sets through Scholastic at really good prices. I dont think you have to have all the students reading the same genre but you could. It all depends on what you have available.

Posted by: Paula

I've been using lit.circles for quite some time. They work well. I usually have 3 groups going at once. Sometimes we read 1 day, discuss and activity 1 day. These days would rotate between the groups as discussion day is with the teacher. Other times we read and discuss each day with the teacher floating.
As for roles One idea: everyone reads, everyone responds in their scribbler and everyone discusses.
Another idea: summarizer, illustrator, questioner, literary luminary, connector(how does the read connect to the real world?)
Keep your groups to 5-6 students.

Some books I have used: Where the Red Fern Grows, Number the Stars, The Shadow Club, Black Beauty, The Story of Jackie Robinson, .....

Hope this helps

literature circles
Posted by: Janet

Not sure this will help you much, but our reading teacher runs a literature circle for the top readers from all three 1st grade classes. This would include one little girl who can read Harry Potter independently, another at a early 4th grade level, and 3-4 at a 2nd grade level. The challenge is finding a book that will interest and challenge all of them-- so far I think she's been using late 2nd grade/early 3rd grade chapter books with unfamiliar settings.

Each child is expected to read one chapter before each meeting (twice a week, 1/2 hour at a time)and write a response to something like: "WHat would you change about this chapter if you could?" or "What in this chapter is like something in your own life?"

Lit Circles/Book Clubs
Posted by: Mandy

I do literature circles every other day in my classroom. I have several reading groups, all reading a novel appropriate for them. One day they will read and prepare for a discussion, and the next, they come together for me to listen to them discuss. I have several different roles in a book club, and each has a specific part. These roles include Summarizer, Connector, Discussion Director, Passage Master, and Character Captain. To get set up for the year, I spend about 3 weeks training the kids on each role. For example, I'll introduce the role and the responsibilities, each child will read an assigned chapter in the book, and we will all prepare the same role at the same time. It's very boring, but the kids will be so excited to start discussing!! It has worked for me. Good luck!