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ipad-1126136_1920.jpgOk, so the activity in this article won’t blow you away. But it is a great way to liven up your literature circles during Reading Month!

Turn your Literature Circles into an Internet-Writing Activity. 

 You can’t go anywhere on the internet without seeing these kinds of headlines as “click-bait”:

  • 7 Life-Changing Products for Under $20 on Amazon Right Now!
  • You’ll Never Believe What She Looks Like Today!
  • One Simple Trick to Lose Wrinkles for Good!
  • Which Golden Girl are You Based on Your Pizza Preference?
  • What THIS Man Did to Save Money Will Blow Your Mind!

 Sometimes that kind of headline is entertaining or interesting, and sometimes it’s nothing like it was advertized to be. Either way, it is designed to get you to click on it and view the ads that go with the website. We all know the drill, and so do your students.

The following activity builds on your traditional Literature Circle Jobs, and pokes a little fun at the kind of internet artiles and ads we see everyday. 

 Here are 5 steps to turn your literature circle jobs into a “Clickbait-Writing” activity:

  1. Read a few literature-based “listicles” (Short articles written in list format, often with catchy or ‘clickbait’-style headlines) together to get a feel for them and build enthusiasm. Here are some examples:
  1. Spice up the Job Descriptions. Last week I provided a list of job descriptions with titles that pop. This week I’ve taken each of those job descriptions and redesigned them for this activity:
    1. Artful Artist: This students illustrates some part of the reading. This time, require that their artistic rendition be designed to grab attention, with captions that serve as “clickbait”. For Example: “You Won’t Believe Which Greaser Grows Up to Become THIS!” or “5 Characters from ‘The Outsiders’ Re-imagined in Today’s Clothes”.
    2. Literary Luminary: This student highlights passages from the previous reading assignment that were significant or interesting in some way. For our “clickbait” style assignment, this student will write an article similar to this “Match the Quote to the Character and We’ll Guess Your Favorite Book” or “12 Times Hermione’s Words Predicted the Rest of the Story”. 
    3. Discussion Director: Student directs conversation within small group in reference to questions and sharing work product. This student will write a listicle-style guideline for the group to follow during that week’s discussion. It would be a good time to revamp the rules that are not working, remind about the qualities of engaged listening, and review expectations for group discussions. Imagine an article such as this: “Tell us your Strengths in Group Discussions and We’ll Tell You Which ‘Harry Potter’ Character You Are”.
    4. Capable Connector: Student describes connections between the text and other texts, films or experiences in the style of an online quiz. Imagine “8 Ways ‘The Outsiders’ is like ‘The Breakfast Club'” or “7 Modern-Day Teenage Heroines like Anne Frank”.
    5. Word Wizard: Student writes an article about interesting words or phrases from the past week’s reading in the style of a Buzzfeed article. Imagine “5 Phrases from Shakespeare You Never Knew Were Insults” or “6 Spells from ‘Harry Potter’ that Teach You Latin”.
  1. Allow for Flexibility: If your “Artful Artist” that week wants to draw the characters from The Diary of Anne Frank reimagined as Japanese Manga, or The Socs as Disney Characters-  like this slideshow of Disney princesses as Feminist Marchers– embrace it! If you are hesitant about the connection to the text, simply require the student to walk you through their thought process or even provide textual evidence for their interpretation.
  1. Keep it Simple: Focus on expression for this exercise. You may chose to take the articles or quizzes and expand them into a larger project in which you edit and refine the writing, but as a change-of-pace literature circle job, allow students the freedom to focus on the meaning, humor and connection with the text over form. Research shows that high engagement leads to better long-term learning.
  1. Save the Work Product: Whether you intend to switch around the groups later in the year, or simply planning for the next semester, preserving work product to use as an example is a great idea. Besides providing students with visual aids for these different tasks, it also piques student interest while you are describing each book. For example, what student wouldn’t want to read “The Outsiders” after reading an article called “Which Greaser are You?” or “7 Times Johnny Cade Made Us Rethink Everything”?  You may even inspire them to read one of the books outside of class!

If you are feeling ambitious or want to extend the lesson, this would also be a great activity to use to start talking about the kind of material we see online everyday.

Sometimes an article or list is clearly just for fun, and sometimes they are truly informative and research-based. How to tell the difference? What do the sources look like that are more likely to provide fact-based articles rather than lists of opinions? These extensions can stand on their own or be incorporated into internet safety or media iteracy units. 

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


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