When I begin the literature circle unit, I like to give students an opportunity to read for a couple of class periods. This gives them a chance to see whether or not they will like their books and to switch to another text if necessary.
The next step in the literature circle unit is a meeting with groups based on the books they have chosen. This preliminary conversation allows me to assess how well the students are reading and to see whether or not the group members understand their text's structure.
Next, we're ready to move on to formative assessment. This is important because some students will "fake read," as Kelly Gallagher calls it when students do things we associate w/ reading but that isn't really reading.
To help guarantee that students don't "fake read," and to insure that the unit doesn't devolve into a series of hoop jumping and/or standardized assessment, I teach a series of mini-lessons.
Today's formative assessment takes the form of a Diamante poem. In the lesson students...
Today's lesson is specific to formative assessment; however, an important resource that has molded my thinking about literature circles is Mini Lessons for Literature Circles, which I talk about in Mini Lessons for Literature Circles.mp4.
To teach students about the diamante form, I project the Diamante Poem Structure.docx on the screen.
I then present the information about diamante poems to student, explaining that the form when written is in a diamond shape, that it can be a way for students to demonstrate their understanding of some aspect of their book, and that they are not limited in terms of the poem's focus.
I explain that students need to compose the poem in such a way that it addresses some part of the book in a specific way rather than in generalities. This is important because I'm looking for close reading and for students to notice the themes, characters, plot, and language structures in the books.
I talk briefly about the poem's form:
Line 1: noun
Line 2: adjective, adjective
Line 3: verb, verb, verb
Line 4: noun, noun, noun, noun
Line 5: verb, verb, verb
Line 6: adjective, adjective
Line 7: noun
The diamante form gives teachers a chance to review parts of speech and to talk to students about specific language. I tell students to avoid being verbs for lines 3 and 5.
After explaining the task--to compose a diamnte poem based on a character, theme, chapter, etc. in their literature circle book, I freeze the image of the diamante patten on the screen and give students time to read and write.
I tell students they may continue reading their books and then write the poem or they may write the poem and then continue reading during the time remaining. "Pride and Prejudice" Diamante
Some students chose to incorporate and image into their poems. "Life of Pi" Sloth DiamanteSome chose to focus on characters while others chose a theme, a chapter, or a symbol. "MAUS" Anja DiamanteAllowing students choice in the assessment is important because their choices help teachers assess each individual's understanding of the text. "Tuesdays with Morrie" Diamante