Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Are Literature Circles?

During the final trimester of 4th Grade, students will read various short stories and novels in literature circle / book clubs. I wanted to share the following information from Getting Started with Literature Circles by Katherine L. Schlick Noe & Nancy J. Johnson: 

What Are Literature Circles? 
In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students' response to what they have read. You may hear talk about events and characters in the book, the author's craft, or personal experiences related to the story. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. Collaboration is at the heart of this approach. Students reshape and add onto their understanding as they construct meaning with other readers. Finally, literature circles guide students to deeper understanding of what they read through structured discussion and extended written and artistic response. 
Perhaps the easiest way to understand what literature circles are is to examine what they are not. 

Literature Circles are . . .

Literature Circles are not . . .
Reader response centeredTeacher and text centered
Part of a balanced literacy programThe entire reading curriculum
Groups formed by book choiceTeacher-assigned groups formed solely by ability
Structured for student independence, responsibility, and ownershipUnstructured, uncontrolled "talk time" without accountability
Guided primarily by student insights and questionsGuided primarily by teacher- or curriculum-based questions
Intended as a context in which toapplyreading and writing skillsIntended as a place to do skills work
Flexible and fluid; never look the same twiceTied to a prescriptive "recipe"