I am introducing Literature Circles into 5th grade this year and I'm super excited (as are the other 2 5th grade teachers)! I've done alot of research to get ideas on what to do and how to do it, but I was wondering if anyone - who has done Literature Circles - has any tips or advice to give for those of use just starting out with this plan!
I do literature circles 3 times a year with my class. I have adapted the traditional lit circle format(Harvey Daniels) to make it work with my class. Since my students are already in groups, I allow the group to choose a novel to read from several choices. I assign each student a role (graphic organizer to go with) in which the student must prepare for before the next group meeting. My students LOVED this. During my guided reading group time, the students led their own discussion, using their role to guide them. I sat back in awe at how wonderful they did. I do have a final activity for each group to do. The favorite of my class has always been the literature fair, where each group showcases the book they have read.
Doing a literature circle during the 3 weeks before Christmas is a hit. I choose novels with a holiday theme. (I make sure first that all of my students celebrate Christmas, if not, I simply do a non-holiday theme). Our literature fair is the day before winter break. The kids made 3 weekly "projects" to go with their novel: stocking with a character's name at top, and facts/pics on stocking about character; Christmas light bulbs (5) strung together, and on each a sequence of what the book is about so far; and a large tree cutout, or something that goes along with the book's content, to critique the entire book. For example, one group read The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements. For their final activity, they chose to make a holiday concert program to critique their book. The kids work as a team to make these projects. For the lit fair, they decorate their table with projects, and we invite the other 5th grades to come visit and find a good book to read over break.
Oh my gosh, I have written too much! Sorry! I kind of get carried away with reading!!
The projects took place the last week before winter break. Our system usually breaks in the middle of the week, so between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we have three full weeks, and a three day week. The projects are done during the the three day week, with the lit fair on the third day. I do not do guided reading on the first two days of that week, so the entire hour is devoted to the groups working on their projects. I have not had any group not get done, and the work is not sloppy either. Hope this helps!
I loved doing Lit circles when I taught 5th grade. I found a very easy system that lets the students run the group. Here's how it works: Each time you meet, you assign a chapter or two. The students each pick a 'job' to do for that section (you would have a short, simple worksheet for each). The jobs are:
Purposeful Predictor (makes predictions before, during, and after reading),
Word Wizard (finds two or three unfamiliar or tricky words in the section and find the definition in a dictionary),
Artful Artist (chooses a scene from the section, draws a detailed picture and writes a few sentences about it),
Querying Questioner (Asks meaningful questions before, during, and after reading), and
Creative Connector (Makes connections text to self, text to text, and text to world), and Story Summarizer (Writes a thorough summary of the section). Then, the next time you meet, the students run the group. They each share their findings, and discuss it. Then you can add anything you'd like, set a new assignment, choose new jobs, and off they go! It runs very smoothly.