At the start of each round of literature circles I give book talks on ~ 5 books. After the book talks I give students a chance to look at the books and then they vote for their top 3 choices on their ballots.
From their votes I place students into groups of 4-6 students per book. The groups’ first task is to create a reading schedule. Their goal is to read 35 pages or more each week and they meet each Friday to share and assess their learning. I give students a calendar and a color coded folder to keep all their paperwork and schedules in.
I use books that relate to the theme of our reading unit or a social theme that builds student’s life skills. Each round of literature circles lasts approximately 6-8 weeks from starting the books to finishing the final projects.
Students meet in different locations around the classroom and share why they chose the book. They get colored folders and begin to set up their paperwork. They add names to their assessment sheet, the How to Lead Your Literature Circle, the BLOOM'S LIT CIRCLE SENTENCE STARTERS and the Lit Circle Questioning CCSS for each person.
After sharing the daily expectations for group time and sharing which two groups I will be with today, students break into their groups and the discussion director begins the discussion and the secretary checks their paperwork for completeness and for accuracy. Students share their responses to the main idea, problem, message and predictions practicing the TPS The 4 Ls
Students share parts of their book that they found interesting, share confusing vocabulary or passages, talk about what they like and don’t like, and relate parts of the story to their lives. On some discussion days I also give students Literature Circle discussion card questions to include in their discussion. Group secretaries collect and submit all paperwork and I evaluate their work as well to determine scores and those who need reteaching, redirection, or accountability.
This clip is a little long (15 min) but it shows a book group meeting and how they conduct their discussions and questioning
Discussion director closes the meeting. Secretary collects paperwork and hands out the new lit circle response papers. Groups set pages to read for the next week's assignment. Discussion director puts away the folder and joins the class on the carpet.
The end of each session is the most important. We debrief as a class: What went well in your discussions? What can you do better next time? I give examples of things that I noticed while I was monitoring the groups. During this process we refer to the criteria we established early in the year for what makes a good discussion. It is very important to have the students reflect and set goals for the future because this is where I see the most progress in their discussion abilities. We often use this rubric to determine how well we did each day.
We end each round of literature circles with a final response project. The type of project students create varies with each round. I offer students a choice of projects, and but they can only complete the same type of project once. For each project, students submit an outline worksheet, a list of supplies and the props that will need before they start the final copy. They get one lit circle session to complete the project (along with working during the week on their own time – great for teaching group working skills) and present it to the class on the next session.
The rest of the class assesses their presentations using a rubric and students in the group give each member an overall score and turn in their peer grading sheets and folders. At this session all students from all groups who have a book that is completed will get a book talk and choose a new book/ new group. I use the peer grading along with my notes from meeting times and work completed to assess students levels and abilities. I also keep notes on student groups to ensure I consistently mix up the people in each session. (I value the group work ethic it teaches them and the skills they learn from working with a variety of people to achieve a common goal)
Here is a sample of our latest student play (not everything turned out as planned because their "kids" ate the candy too soon:)