Today’s class begins with a journal entry designed to get students interested in the topic and it allows them to use their imaginations. They write a response to this prompt: What if a time machine malfunctioned and someone from the Ice Age is brought into this century? What inventions and technologies do you think would impress him or her the most? How would you communicate? Do you think he or she would be happy here?
Without hesitation, they get down to work and in about 6-8 minutes are eager to share. In fact, so many volunteer that I allow them to read one another’s at their table groups and have them choose one person from each group to read aloud to the class. I add the stipulation that they are not to nominate their own piece but are to choose someone else’s. A sample appears here. One tip that I have since discovered is to have students display their work on the projector or overhead because they will write better if they know others will see it.
They offer many thoughtful insights, like introducing the time traveler to the modern day world slowly so he/she won’t be too frightened and using Morse code as a means of communication. Of course there are also a number of humorous insights too, as there is always someone that brings up indoor plumbing and toilet paper as amazing inventions.
So the first rule of literature circle meetings is that students must come prepared. If you did not complete the worksheet for your role than you must sit out of the group. Nobody likes that so it becomes great incentive to come to class prepared. Luckily, this is one of those days. The second rule of literature circles is that students are to review their annotations of the chapter that include identifying the most significant events. Then they are finally ready to take turns presenting the information gathered on the role worksheet. The four in use today are: Setting Detective, Figurative Language Enricher, Vocabulary Enricher and Life Lessons Connection.
Common problems that occur during group discussions include allowing the conversation to wander from the topic at hand and students also have a tendency to let their attention to lag when it is someone else’s turn to speak. I pass out a note taking sheet for students to fill in during literature circle meetings to boost engagement and participation.
To end the class, we discuss the chapter together and everyone agrees that Maroo and her family are enjoying their summer at the sea. The abundant food supply and warm weather are a welcome change from the hunger and cold experienced in winter.
To prepare for tomorrow’s literature circle meetings for chapter 7, students select a new roles and take along the appropriate worksheet.