In order to fully prepare students for lit circles, they'll have to understand the purpose. I often ask if any of their parents participate in book clubs, or they've ever seen a book club on TV or in a movie. In book clubs, people simply spend time discussing books. The one difference in our lit circles is that our conversation will be more structured, especially at the beginning. When we get better at discussing, and making sure all students have a voice, they we can have more freedom.
First, I prepare the students for their task in small groups by displaying the order of discussion points on the board and going over each step, task by task.
After I explain the order, I have the kids repeat the order step by step, to clear up remaining confusion. Students already know who they'll be working with; they were given their groups during the previous day's lesson.
Today is the first day of literature circles! The first day of group meetings always make me a little nervous. I never know exactly how the kids will act once they're placed in small groups. I think very deeply about my book groups before I doll out their groups. I try to factor in which books the kids have ranked, but I also have to think about personalities. Since I do these groups at the end of the year, there are often people who aren't working well together at this point. All of these factors must be considered before I give the group assignments.
I circulate to make sure the kids are following the instructions on the board, outlined in the previous section. I redirect when necessary, especially on the first day. I am observing the groups and the way they interact, always drawing attention to positive interactions. Praising on task groups, maybe even making the whole class aware of high-functioning groups. There may be one group that I have to dedicate a larger chunk of my time to, but I try to circulate as much as I can.
I remind kids of the tasks at hand:
I often ask students how they thought the first day of literature circles went, and look for suggestions from the class as to how they could improve for next time.
Then we branch into independent work time for the next group meeting. I pass out the Discussion Box, Set 2, and kids begin working to complete their reading and boxes for the next group meeting.