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confetti_3inRow.jpgHappy Read Across America Day!

Today, many are reading as part of the annual Read Across America. This day celebrates and encourages reading. One way to keep students motivated and excited about reading throughout the year is a through the use of Book Clubs or Literature Circles.This is the first of a four-part series on literature circles for the month of March.

One of the best ways to really get your classroom reverberating with conversation and connection is to inspire your students towards a love of reading is through Literature Circles.

While many teachers have been using them for years, there are always ways to adjust and tweak them to have even more success.

Here are 5 small ways to improve literature circles that really pack a punch without requiring you to overhaul what works already:

  • Wait a few months before starting literature circles. Some experts recommend not starting literature circles before Christmas Break, so that students are comfortable with and trust each other first.
  • Spice up the Job Descriptions. This is a little thing but helps to build excitement. Instead of calling someone the “Vocab Persons” Call them the “Word Wizard”. Here’s a list of job descriptions with titles that pop:
    • Artful artist uses some form of artwork to represent a significant scene or idea from the reading.
    • Literary luminary points out interesting or important passages within the reading.
    • Discussion director writes questions that will lead to discussion by the group.
    • Capable connector finds connections between the reading material and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, a topic studied in another class, or a different work of literature.
    • Word wizard discusses words in the text that are unusual, interesting, or difficult to understand.
  • Back away from the discussions. Once your students know how to conduct their book discussions, let them run with it. It should feel like a book club.
  • Interview each student first. Before assigning groups either based on reading level or book interest, interview each student to determine whether or not they would feel stifled in a group with students vastly beyond their abilities. Some students would stretch to meet the pace of the group, others would struggle to save face.
  • Ditch the Plan. The goals of the literature circle are collaboration and excitement. Be ready to adjust your expectations and your plans based upon how things are going. Enjoy the freedom!

What are your favorite tips for using literature circles in the classroom?

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