The Grand Plan: Literature Circles. The ELA teacher and I want to end the school year with a literature circle project. This will be a challenge. Keeping one hundred 7th graders engaged and on task while reading a novel is difficult, let alone getting them to have in-depth, student-led discussions about the text. Student-driven discussions are the basis for literature circles. The execution of the discussion circles will have to be meticulously planned in order for us to finish this project in such a short amount of time. I plan to rely on structure, structure, structure to make it happen! And I will be crossing my fingers and toes and praying that my students cooperate!
Step one: Choose the book or books. Our high school library had a 4 book series of fictional novels set during World War II that have luckily just been bequested to the middle school. (Yay!) The four novels include: Early Sunday Morning, The Journal of Ben Uchida, The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins and My Secret War. These scholastic books have a recommended interest level of 6th to 8th grade and a Lexile Level measure of 930L. Another plus is two of the books involve female main characters and two have male main characters. We have just enough copies to have a set in both the Social Studies and ELA classroom.
Step two: Plan groups and assign which novel each group will read. The Literature Circles materials linked at the end of this post include a blank table for listing students in each group.
Step three: Create a Reading Schedule for each book. As the end of year is approaching, it is critical that students stick to the planned daily reading assignments to ensure they finish reading the book within ten days. For this to happen, the expectations must be clearly communicated. The schedule includes what pages to read, which classroom to read them in, when group discussions will be due, and when presentations to the teacher will occur. Examples of our schedules are included in pages 1-4 of our Literature Circle materials.
Step four: Decide on Roles. I found there are a plethora of roles to choose from after doing some research and getting materials from our high school librarian and instructional coach. The five roles outlined in our materials packet include the following:
Step five: Develop Task Forms for Each Role. This was the fun part! I really liked making these. I found some great free clipart from a site which allows free use of the images as long as a link to their site is included on the web page and credits are given on the document (here is the link DiscoverySchool.com). The task forms are pages 6-10 in the materials packet. Here is an image of page 6 just to give you an idea what the task forms look like:
Step six: Plan Method of Group Accountability. All students must participate during meetings in order for the group to have a successful discussion. To this end, I developed a rubric (page 15) based on four items of criteria (quality of participation in discussion, quality of role presentation, quality of written work, and time management). Students will complete a group evaluation form (page 16) every other day following their team meeting.
What I’ve got so far: Literature-Circles-WWII-Materials
My next steps:
1. Prepare a practice round of how to implement the roles. One “model group” will perform the roles for the class using a children’s book The Dot (here is an animated link to this awesome children’s story: http://www.schooltube.com/video/d93d38bb6d4a1e5a522f/The%20Dot) . My little ones ADORE this book and I bet I’ve read it to them a hundred times. I think my students will like it as well. After introduction to the roles, they will begin reading.
2. Create fun Role Name tents that will set on their desks to help the group members know who is acting in what role during discussion.
3. Prepare links for the investigator to use and add them to the social studies class website.
4. Prepare reading task cards. I love task cards!!! I want to make a set of cards that ask reading reflection questions like “what is your favorite part of the book?” or “why do you like or dislike the main character?” etc. If every student gets a task card, they are told to stand up and move around the room until they have shared task cards with at least 10 other students. This way they get to interact with students reading a book different then the book their group is reading. Students can make a quick matrix in their notebooks to record their answers. Just need to make the cards.
5. Develop enhancement activities for my speedy readers. I’m sure that while I might have readers who struggle to finish by the deadline, I will have just as many who finish quickly and will want something else to do while they wait on team members to catch up.
6. Plan the culminating project- nothing too elaborate because it will be the last week of school!!!! Yippeee! This cartoon was posted on Facebook recently by our Curriculum Director… hahahaha!