Friday, October 8, 2010

Why I Love Lit Circles

GOAL students are right in the middle of their literature circle unit. It's one of my favorite times of the year. Why do I love lit circles?

1. They run themselves. With some good directions & some good modeling, the kids get the routine. They get with their groups and get to work. I get to walk around, observe the discussions, and enjoy the results.

2. Deep thinking and connections. So many strategies all packed into one activity... QAR; text to text, text to self, text to world connections; predicting; visualizing; character analysis... I could go on forever. Lit circles really pack a punch!

3. Great books. I love finding books for lit circles. I love reading books for lit circles. I love sharing books for lit circles. OK. I just love books. This is not new information.

4. Discussion! The discussion is the very best part. I love hearing what the students discuss with each section of the book. Sometimes I interject, but mostly, I let the discussions go where they may. Readers are thinkers, and the sharing of that thinking in small groups is frankly electrifying to me.

I've modified how I've done literature circles over the years, but I'm really happy with my current format. Thanks, Virginia Broz, for getting me to see things differently in how I set up my discussions. Your "Questions, Comments, & Quotes" sheets (QCQ sheets, as the kids and I refer to them) have made my lit circles even better.

Here's the routine: Students fill out the front of the 1/2 sheet as they're reading. They prioritize the items and bring them up in discussion the next day. On the back of the QCQ sheet, they summarize what the group discussed regarding the item they brought up. When they're done, they staple them together & turn them in, get a new color for the next day, and decide how many pages they're going to read. Then the process starts all over again. It's magic! At the end of the unit, they'll choose a summative project to show what they've learned over the course of the unit. As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing." :)

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