Friday, May 17, 2013

Literature Circles

Each year, during the last nine weeks, my students participate in Literature Circles.  This year I decided to call them "Book Clubs" because "Literature Circles/Literary Circles" just doesn't flow off my tongue as well.  This activity is very structured even though I act as a facilitator when the groups meet.  I'm sure you already know about Lit. Circles, so let me just explain how "Book Clubs" work in my classroom.

I divide my students into three groups and assign a book to each group.  In the past, I've divided students by ability (based on their fluency scores).  This year, I allowed the students to choose which book they wanted to read.  Some people ended up with their second choice, though, because I could only have so many students in each group.  The three books I chose this year were:
  • Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg 
I always use Running Out of Time...and plan to continue using it.  It's that good.  For my "higher level" book, I rotate between Tuck Everlasting and The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.  I've also used Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare for my "middle group." 

Each child receives a packet and I explain all the job assignments before we really begin (I usually explain parts of the packet a little each day, during the week before Book Clubs start). 

Here's my cover (Some of the sheets I found online; others I made myself.  I decided to take pictures instead of attaching the documents because Google always gives me trouble.  Just click the pictures to enlarge them.  Anyway, I found the cover sheet online somewhere):
The next page in the packet is my original grading sheet.  I check the students' jobs each day and assign a point value (0-10) based on their work.  I do give zeros if they show up to class with no assignment. 
A reading schedule is next.  I make up the schedule for each group.  They are not allowed to read ahead.
I also create the job schedule.  Groups may have 5 or 6 students.  I added the "Literary Luminary" job for this group:
This page is helpful in explaining how to behave when you meet with your group.  I found it online but I can't remember the source.
These are my expectations:
Tips on how to converse with your group:
More of my original tips/expectations:
I created each job sheet.  Yes, they are very detailed.  I wanted everything to be clear so my students had no question about what they were expected to do:
Sample homework page for the Discussion Director:
From another source:
My Summarizer sheet:
My Illustrator job sheet:
My Word Finder job sheet:
Each Friday, the students take a vocabulary test based on the words that the Word Finder comes up with (there is a different Word Finder each day).  I always check the words and definitions so that the students are studying the right information.  The test format is always different and my tests always require higher level thinking.  No matching words and definitions in my class!  They must be able to use the words in their own sentences, list synonyms/antonyms, etc.  Yes, this requires me to make three different tests (for the three different groups) each Thursday night, but that's just the challenging nature of Book Clubs.  I can't even use the same tests from year to year; the words are always different because the students choose the words. 

My Connector pages:
My Literary Luminary pages:
Finally, I typed up the order in which the students should present in their groups:
I told ya it was pretty structured!  Now, when the kids begin to discuss, I monitor the discussion but stay hands-off for the most part.  I will jump in and make a few comments or share a few connections I had to the story.  The discussion time usually last about 15-20 minutes and then I allow the students time to get started on their reading for the next day.  Some students are able to finish the reading and get a head start on their nightly assignment.  It is rare that a student completely finishes his work in class.   

To wrap up Book Clubs, I assign a final project.  In the past, I've assigned skits, but this year I assigned a PowerPoint presentation.  I know PowerPoint is a little outdated, but my students are focusing on that in computer lab, so that's what I'm having them work with.  Here's the rubric I created:
Finally, the students will give me feedback:
And that, my friends, is an overview of this year's Book Clubs.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Would it be possible to have copies of your book club documents? I also teach 5th grade and would appreciate it greatly!