In the past two weeks, I have introduced in my classes a very important reading activity called Literature Circles. LitCircles are small discussion groups in which children regularly discuss books. Students talk about events, characters in the book, interesting vocabulary, or personal experiences related to the story. Literature circles help students engage in critical thinking and reflect on what they have read. Collaboration is the main goal. Students increase their understanding of the story line, learn to think actively during the reading process and make connections with their background knowledge and experiences. The group discussion offers a non-threatening environment in which they are not afraid to express their opinion and easily become active participants.
I have been having a lot of success with LitCircles in my class. I usually choose one book that we usually start with. The whole class reads individual chapter and with each chapter, we practice one role in the Lit Circle discussion and model how the responses should look like.
The roles of the LitCircles are: Discussion Director, Summarizer, Connector, Passage Picker, Word Wizard and Illustrator. Each role has its own challenges and it requires certain literacy skills that students have to learn. Below you can find a Slideshare presentation describing the individual LitCircle roles.
For our discussion, I decided to use the book Sadako written by Eleanor Coerr, that is fairly short (9 chapters), very interesting, and not too challenging for English language learners. Sadako’s story is very captivating and it usually initiates a lot of questions about World War 2 and the effects of the atomic bomb on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Later on, I plan on selecting different books for groups of 3-4 students with similar reading levels which is the key to a successful LitCircle discussion!
I hope you will also find LitCircle discussions effective for your English language learners!