Literature Circles and Struggling Readers in Middle School

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So here goes….I learned about literature circles in college and through staff development provided by the county in which I work. I thought to myself, well I think it is time to try out what I have been hearing. Perhaps it was time to see what they could do in my classroom. In my opinion its a known fact that students who struggle in reading do not like to read. Students will find ways to get out of reading if they can. I started thinking, in what ways can I make literacy more fun in my classroom? How can I engage the students more in the literature that we are reading? How can I get them to be more involve and get them to actually enjoy reading?

Hopefully when I set up my literature circles soon I will find the answers to those questions. I was researching literature circles and came across a article that I found interesting. The article stated that “studies have shown that when students are involved in authentic conversation about literature, they are more engaged in their reading (Alpert, 1987; Enciso, 1996), and they take more risks (Eeds & Wells, 1989).” This had me excited because being that I have never incorporated literature circles in my classroom I am naturally a bit nervous about it. I spoke with other teachers in my school that have had success with literature circles and they told me to plan carefully and explain explicitly what is expected at each station. So what I decided to do is to ask my students. In one of my classes my professor suggested to me that maybe I should ask my students what they want to learn she told me that almost always that students who struggle with reading almost never get to choose what they read. That had me thinking. She was totally right. In my few years of teaching I have not once asked my students what they wanted to read so I decided to ask them if they would enjoy participating in literature circles they seemed excited about getting up and rotating to the different stations. I do not know why it never occurred to me to ask the students.That will be something that I will change in the future to involve my students more in the learning process more.

I also read that literature circles also promote students’ motivation to read and have been shown to improve students’ reading levels and performance on tests. Now after reading this, this was music to my ears!!  One of my personal goals that I set for myself as a new teacher is to increase student motivation in reading. Also, to move my students closer to grade level. So if literature circles can help motivate students to read as well as help them to score better on their test and quizzes, then I can not wait to try this out! Even though its very important for my students to perform well on their test and quizzes for me it is as equally important to have them to enjoy it as well. So I hope that I will be able to engage my students more and help them to really enjoy and develop a love for reading.

Sources

Enciso, P. (1996). Why engagement in reading matters to Molly.
Reading and Writing Quarterly, 12,
171–194.
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