Reflection: Lesson Planning Literature Circle #5: Holden On The Past and Future - Section 2: Literature Circle Discussion


I have used Literature Circles for "The Catcher in the Rye" for some time now, and I have found that with this novel, and with "To Kill a Mockingbird," they are an effective way for students to read the novel. Students can relate to both novels' young protagonists' voices. By chunking the novel into five-chapter (or so) sections, students are able to address one big idea at a time (such as Holden's health today, or his family relationships, his sincerity, his relationships to peers, etc.), gaining an understanding of how that one idea is addressed. However, the literature circles also provide continuity; students know to look ahead to their time fulfilling a role, the consistency of having reading days and small-group meetings, the set quizzes. Additionally, the big ideas run through the entire novel, not only the five-chapter section at which we address each individually. The consistency also gives students an opportunity to build on those big ideas.


This is not to say that I have taught Literature Circles the same way every time I have used them. I have not always had Illustrators. I have had a Quiz Maker role who creates reading check quizzes for the group. This is the first year I have utilized the big ideas to provide consistency. As I seek to provide my students with the skills of the Common Core standards and a deep appreciation of literature, I will continue to modify my lessons to meet their needs and to incorporate other ideas. 


Students have impressed me with their understanding of and discussion of Holden and the novel. I think the final word came in the featured video here, "Just because Holden said it, doesn't mean it's true. The novel is from his point of view," which may be the most concise explanation of unreliable narrators I have heard from a 10th Grader. 

  The Last Literature Circle: Looking Back
  Lesson Planning: The Last Literature Circle: Looking Back
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Literature Circle #5: Holden On The Past and Future

Unit 5: Literacy: Catching Identity, Novel Study of "The Catcher in the Rye"
Lesson 13 of 13

Objective: SWBAT participate in a collaborative discussion of Chapters 21-26 of "Catcher in the Rye", having prepared their contribution to the literature circle with a focus on Holden Caulfield's mental and physical health.

Big Idea: Does stress affect you physically? Do you get ill when things get out of hand?

  Print Lesson
English / Language Arts, discussion leader, characterization (Fictional Lit), Vocabulary, literature circles, collaborative learning, the catcher in the rye, illustrators, Catcher in the Rye
  50 minutes
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