After making a reference to my literature circles in a previous post, I've had several questions about how I run my literature circles. I'm going to attempt to break it all down for you because I have a very specific and structured way of doing it.
I first did literature circles last school year with my 6th and 7th grade literature classes. I started with 6th grade in February as an experiment. Well, an experiment it was, and it was a disaster! I had groups rushing through the book just to finish first and barely comprehending the book. The work assigned was kind of sporadic and unstructured. And group meetings were a nightmare. You live and learn, right?
So when I did literature circles with my 7th graders in April, I was READY! I knew what not to do and did a lot of research to find the best ways of doing things. This year, I'm using the same method for my current 6th and 7th grade classes. Here's an outline:
1. Book Selection
2. Quizzes (YES, quizzes!)
3. Role Assignments & Work
4. The Actual Reading
5. Group Meetings
1. Book Selection I'd love to tell you that I pour through books, comparing their literary value and choosing only the best of the best for my literature circles. Unfortunately, I live in the real world. The books you'll find in my literature circle selection were found
a) as bargains in the Scholastic Book Clubs brochure
b) on the clearance shelf at Books-a-Million
c) in the closet as a former class novel (from another past teacher)
d) as online specials on eBay, Amazon, etc.
Throughout the year, I keep my eye open for books I can purchase 8-12 of cheaply for possible literature circle books to expand my choices.
Once I find the books, I have to make sure I have enough copies that each student can have his own. This is crucial, because if a student is absent, he'll need his book to catch up. I assign certain sections to be read on certain days, and to hold the students accountable for this, they MUST each have their own copy of the book. They MUST be able to bring the book home at any time. They also need to be able to use sticky notes throughout their book without interfering with someone else's notes.
Oh, and of course, it MUST be a book I have read. This one is non-negotiable. I have seen teachers assign and teach books they haven't read themselves. Crazy. I can't even wrap my head around that!
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