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Literature Circle Training for Middle School Students

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Literature Circle Training for Middle School Students

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  1. Literature Circle Training for Middle School Students Kim Johnson Pike County Middle School Zebulon, GA

  2. What is a Literature Circle? A literature circle is similar to a book club. Students in a small group read the same book and discuss what they have read as they progress through the book. To drive the discussions, each member of the group has a specific role.

  3. What do I need for my Literature Circle? Each participant in a literature circle will need a marble composition book, a pencil, and a book, short story, or article. Each participant also must have literature circle training.

  4. I know how to get the materials, but how do I get the training? We will train together as a class. Each day, we will read a short article that will allow us to practice a different literature circle role until we have practiced all six of them. Once we know how to do the work associated with each role, we can break into small groups and begin the process!

  5. What are the roles in a literature circle? • Word Wizard • Artful Artist • Connector • Question Asker • Passage Picker • Discussion Director

  6. Let’s Get Started! Open your journal and write the following words at the top of the first six pages: Word Wizard (page 1) Artful Artist (page 2) Passage Picker (page 3) Question Asker (page 4) Connector (page 5) Discussion Director (page 6)

  7. Day 1 – Word Wizard Please write the role of the Word Wizard (red part) on page 1 of your journal. Vocabulary Enricher/Word Wizard: The words a writer chooses are an important ingredient of the author’s craft. Your job is to be on the lookout for a few words that have special meaning in today’s reading selection. Jot down puzzling or unfamiliar words while you are reading. Later, look up the definitions in either a dictionary or some other source. You may also run across words that stand out somehow in the reading – words that are repeated a lot, used in an unusual way, or are crucial to the meaning of the text. Mark these special words, too, and be ready to share your ideas on their usage to the group. Note: When discussing vocabulary, you should always refer back to the text in order to examine the word in context.

  8. Practice being a Word Wizard! Open your journal to the first available page, and write today’s date and Word Wizard. Read the material that your teacher provides. As you read, jot down three (3) words that you would like to bring to the discussion. Remember to define them. Word Wizards should never have fewer than three words to bring to the Literature Circle!

  9. Day 2 – Artful Artist Please write the role of the Artful Artist on page 2 of your journal. Illustrator: Your job is to draw some kind of picture related to the reading you have just done. It can be a sketch, cartoon, diagram, flowchart, or stick-figure scene. Let the group see the picture and guess what you drew. Then, tell them about your picture.

  10. Practice being an Artful Artist! Open your journal to the first available page, and write today’s date and Artful Artist. Read the material that your teacher provides. As you read, look for a passage that has a scene or conjures an image that you would like to bring to the discussion. Draw your picture. Remember: Add enough detail to your drawing so your group will be able to tell what part you drew.

  11. Day 3 – Passage Picker Passage Picker: Your job is to locate a few special sections or quotations in the text for your group to talk over. As you decide which passages or paragraphs are worth going back to, make a note why you picked each one and consider some plans for how they should be shared.

  12. Practice being a Passage Picker! Open your journal to the first available page, and write today’s date and Passage Picker. Read the material that your teacher provides. As you read, jot down a passage, or part of the text, that you would like to bring to the discussion. Remember that for long passages, you can write the first three words and the last three words. Always write the page number. Example: “I was going….came home emptyhanded.” page 88

  13. Day 4 – Question Asker Please write the role of the Question Asker on page 4 of your journal. Question Asker: Your job is to develop a list of at least 3 questions that your group might want to discuss about this part of the book. Ask FAT questions (they require an explanation) instead of skinny questions (they have one word answers such as “Yes” or “No”

  14. Practice being a Question Asker! Open your journal to the first available page, and write today’s date and Question Asker. Read the article that your teacher provides. As you read the article, jot down three (3) FAT questions that you would like to bring to the discussion. Remember that skinny questions only have a “yes” or “no” answer. Fat questions require an explanation. For example, “How does Judy’s attitude compare to Jane’s?”

  15. Day 5 - Connector Please write the role of the Connector on page 5 of your journal. Connector: Your job is to find connections between the book and you, and between the book and the wider world. Text-to-text connections make connections between writing. Text-to-World connections make connections between the book and world events. Text-to self-connections make connections between the book and your past experiences.

  16. Practice being a Connector! • Open your journal to the first available page, and write today’s date and Connector. • Read the material that your teacher provides. As you read, jot down three (3) connections that you would like to bring to the discussion. Remember that there are three types of connections: Text-to-text, Text-to-self, and Text-to-World. You can use any combination of these types, but you must have three.

  17. Day 6 – Discussion Director Please write the role of the Discussion Director on page 6 of your journal. The Discussion Director guides the group in its discussion, checks for completion of assignments, evaluates participation and helps monitor discussion for equal participation. The Discussion Director also makes sure that each person has a different role for the next day and reviews with the group the pages that are to be read.

  18. Let’s Practice Being a Discussion Director! Open your journal to the first available page, and write today’s date and Discussion Director. The Discussion Director is the person who will make a checklist of the roles and check off who participated and who did not.

  19. How do we work independently in our literature circles? This is the wonderful part of literature circles! Your teacher will assign you to a group and give you a deadline (2 weeks is common). When your group gets its novel, your discussion director will lead your group in determining how many pages you must read each day in order to meet your deadline. Example: Book with 200 pages divided by 14 nights = 14 ¼ pages per night. Your group must stay on the same schedule.

  20. How do we decide on roles? The rule is that the roles must rotate nightly. You may decide on your schedule in your group. Some students like to make a spreadsheet and create numbered roles. You can decide on the system that works best for you!! Once you decide, you must do your reading and complete your role work in your journal. Always write your role and the date right above your work.

  21. We did our reading and our role work. Now what? You are ready to come together in your literature circle. Sit in a circle so that everyone can see everyone else. The discussion director will begin by asking each person in the group to share his or her role. Your teacher will be rotating around the class at this time, checking your journal. When you have finished your discussion, make sure you establish new roles for the night and review the pages that you will read.

  22. What are the consequences for not doing my work? Your role in Literature Circles is one that all other members depend upon in order to benefit fully from the reading. When you do not complete your work, you can expect to take a step on the Progressive Discipline ladder. If you continue, then you may be removed from the literature circle and given an independent assignment.