Teaching with Literature Circles

In traditional classrooms the entire class reads one novel, as the teacher guides their students through the text.  This is not the case with Literature Circles.  Literature Circles allow students to choose texts that resonate with them; choice allows for ownership, which heights student engagement with their text.

In literature circles, small groups of students read a book and guide each other through the text.  They take turns performing a variety of roles which focus on the key literacy skills.  Rather than feeling as if they are forced to read a book they feel no connection to, at a pace that doesn’t suit their needs, students are able to flip the classroom and chart their own course through the text, as the teacher observes and moderates their progress.

What are the benefits of Literature Circles?

As stated, the main benefit of Literature Circles is that students have choice in what they want to read.  While each school’s book room will be different, there is no reason there can not be a variety of texts to choose from.  Ordering 30 copies of one book requires the same budget as order 6 copies of 5 different books, so why not purchase five different titles that students can choose from?

We know that when students see themselves represented in a text they are better able to connect to it.  When students are engaged, they can read beyond their assessed reading level.

Through the use of Literature Circles students take on leadership roles, and are answerable to their peers, rather than their teacher, when they are ill prepared.  By shifting the structure of the classroom, students rise to the challenges before them.

Where do I start?

  1. The first step in running literature circles is transforming the culture of your English Department.  While some teachers and administrators may be instantly receptive to the idea, others may need convincing.  Luckily, there is a wealth of research pointing to the effects of Literature Circles on student success.
  2. Start purchasing small sets of novels.  Feel free to use these book lists as a starting point:
  3. Familiarize yourself with How to Run Literature Circles
  4. Create Literature Circle Resources for your students to use

Part 1: Literature Circles – Introduction

Part 2: How to Run Literature Circles

Part 3: Literature Circle – Resources

 

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