Literature Circles

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I wanted to do research and put to the test the effectiveness of literature circles. Now, I’m aware that literature circles are nothing new to teachers, but this was my first time trying it so naturally I was a bit nervous to see how it was going to go. I was concerned that the students may get off topic and start to horseplay or if they would discuss the book at all. We have just started our first novel this week so we read aloud and discussed chapter one. My students really started to get into the story. I explicitly explained what literature circles were and how I expected them to participate. Many of my students are very visual, so I decided to show a YouTube video on what a literature circle would look like and examples of how their discussion may go. I passed out and explained the different “jobs” that would be required for the literature circle. I put them into groups and I let them decided which job they would take. The purpose for me to incorporate literature circles into my lesson this week, was to see if my students were really comprehending the text and if literature circles would motivate my students to enjoy reading. I found that I as a teacher always give/feed my students the material but I wanted to let them take more control over what they were learning. Several of my students have told me personally that they do not enjoy reading. This concerned me greatly because everything we do in school involves reading in some way, shape, or form. I immediately started to think of how I could make reading fun. I wondered if I take a step back and let the students discuss the novel would they enjoy it more and be more motivated to read?

I’ve read several articles on literature circles and from what I have read, there have been many studies that have shown when kids are more involved in rich authentic conversation, they are more engaged in what they are reading. Being that the students are in small groups some who may not naturally be the ones to participate in class discussion may be more willing to do so in a small group setting. In smaller groups the students are able to voice their responses more freely. I read that literature circles also promote students’ motivation to read and studies have shown that this type of learning has improved students’ reading levels and performance on tests. That is exactly what I am going for! My main goal is to get my kids excited and motivated about reading. I took a survey earlier this week and asked them what type of novel they would be interested in reading. We as a class decided which book to read. The students seemed to really enjoy deciding what we as a class were going to read.

Once everything was in place I let the kids get started. I was very, very pleased with the conversations that were being had. One of my students who never raises his hand or participates in class discussions was actually talking about the book. I had each child think about and write a few questions to get the conversation started. He asked his question and the group talked about it. At the end of class I had everyone come back together and we discussed what went well and what didn’t go as well. The students told me that, that liked being in small groups talking about the story. One child told me that she hopes that we can do this again. I am very excited about how this turned out. We have not yet tested on chapter one so I am interested to see how well they will do. Looking forward to the next literature circle.

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