Let the Students Run the Show: Literature Circles


In essence literature circles are small groups of students who discuss a piece of literature in depth. The size of the group is up to the teacher. For me, I tend to go with groups of 4 – 5. After an assigned reading, the literary circle meeting is guided by students' response to what they have read and their interpretations. Each meeting is different, as each student bring different ideas and concepts to the table. As the teacher, you may hear the children discuss events, conflicts, and characters in the book, the manner in which the author writes, or personal connections related to the story. The strength of literature circles is that they offer a way for students to utilize critical thinking skills and encourage reflection as they read, discuss, and interact with books.

While open to the the teacher’s interpretation, I like the groups to run as shown, in the following setup of a group of five.

Student 1 – Discussion Director

Student 2 – Passage Master

Student 3 – Connector

Student 4 – Vocabulary Master

Student 5 – Illustrator

For the next assigned reading, Student 1 would take Passage Master, Student 2 would take Connector (and so on.) Therefore, for each assigned reading, the students will alternate roles, until the book is completed.

One of the books I've done literature circles with the past couple years is Death Cloud, by Andrew Lane. During the summer of 1868, young Sherlock Holmes is only fourteen years old. On break from school, he is staying with his uncle and aunt, in their immense house in Hampshire. When two people die from mysterious symptoms, which resemble the plague, Sherlock begins to investigate what really happened to them, with the assistance of his tutor, Amyus Crowe. Thus begins Sherlock's true education in becoming a detective, as he determines the cause of these vicious crimes, committed by an evil villain with malicious intentions.

As shown below, you can see one of the literature circle meetings taking place for this novel.

As shown, ofte

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