[ Discussion Director | Summarizer | Vocabulary | Literary | Connector | Rubric | participation | rotation of roles ]

How Literature Circles Work in Our Classroom
In our fifth grade classroom, we enjoy literature with daily peer-led Literature Circles. Each individual in each student group of four or five rotates a daily role. For homework, students read a specific amount of pages from a nightly reading source, prepare an evaluation question, and prepare a role.

The next day:

The Discussion Director

In class the next day, the Discussion Director directs the sequence of the discussion, facilitates the discussion centering around the Level 6, 5, or 4 questions, brings in the contributions of each role member, gathers the daily evaluative forms from group members at the end of the session, and organizes the role assignments for the next session.

The Summarizer

Our Discussion Director also acts as Summarizer providing a brief summary of the reading source. The format might be as narrative, as a poem, as a rap, or in any way that is appropriate to the reading.

The Vocabulary Enricher

Our Vocabulary Enricher selects words from the text that he feels might be powerful, puzzling, or unfamiliar. He identifies the page, paragraph, and the word. He finds the definitions of the words. He introduces the selected words to the group along with possible synonyms. He creates an activity such as a Bingo, Hangman, a word scramble, "I'm Thinking of A Word on page ____ that means _____ ", or a quiz that engages the group members in using the selected words.

The Literary Enricher

The Literary Enricher might prepare his role to involve other group members in an activity that focuses on evidence that he found in the reading related to such things as the feelings of a character, the personality of a character, the motives of a character, a character dilemma in the plot, a character's actions in the plot, a character's solutions in the plot, a description of a setting, the climax of the plot, the titles of a chapter, what a character says that reveals a trait, foreshadowing in the plot, what is said about a character that reveals a trait, and what a character does. During the class session involving the students in his group, he would write the initials of the group member who responded to a dice thrown question based on our original gameboard and recorded in a cube-like form. If he does not want to provide an activity for his group members, he can cite pages and paragraphs relating specific aspects that moved him.

The Author Reflector

Our Author Reflector focuses the group members on reflecting as an author. In preparing the role, the student synthesizes evidence that answers questions that he might ask group members. He might present answers to such questions as: What is a new plot idea that you might now consider as part of the story? OR What new character information might you reveal in this part of the story? OR What new use of setting might you include in this part of the story? OR What is one strength in this chapter that you are proud of? OR If you were to change or add something to this chapter to make the chapter better, what would you change or add? OR As the author, what did you most enjoy about a character, the plot, or the setting in this chapter? OR Brainstorm a list of words that describe the character, the plot, or the setting this this chapter. OR What advice would you give to an author who was adapting this chapter into a movie or video? OR As the author, what theme was your focus in this chapter?

The Connector

Our Connector's role is to find connections between the book/text and the world outside. This might mean finding "evidence connections" in the reading that shows: an event or experience in this reading by page CONNECTED TO an event or experience in your life; a character in this story CONNECTED TO a character in another story; a character in this reading CONNECTED TO a character in your life. If the Connector wants to involve the entire group in the activity, I have created these categories and other categories and placed them on laminated game cards which the Connector may have group members pull from and answer. If the Connector does his role in this manner, during the class session, he records student answers on a "connection cubes" sheet noting the initials of the person making the connection and what connection he made. A Connector might decide to present his role by making verbal personal connections to the text and not involving other group members.

Student Evaluation Forms

Our Student Evaluation Forms include a grading rubric and class participation evidence. Pre-discussion responsibilities include having completed the reading, having prepared one's role, having prepared an evaluative question, and having brought the reading source to school. The part of the rubric focusing on the Literature Circle discussion sessions include: Offering questions to consider in the discussion; supporting, encouraging, and responding to the ideas, thoughts, or questions of others; making eye contact with others; keeping one's voice at arms length; staying focused on the discussion; and respecting the presence, ideas, and contributions of all discussion group members.

Each student composes self-evaluative comments about himself in the third person. "Jane Doe completed all pre-discussion responsibilities. Her summary brought up a suggestion that engaged the group in discussion. She shared her ideas but should concentrate on keeping her voice lower."

Literature Circle Sites: Harvey Daniels reference

Marjorie Duby was featured as the "Wired Educator Success Story" for March, 1998

Educator is the recipient of National Reading Association's Miss Rumphius Award.

Last modified: February 19, 2017. Copyright 2000 - Marjorie Duby. All rights reserved.