Literature Circles

Discussion in 'Fifth Grade' started by flyingteacher, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. flyingteacher

    flyingteacher Rookie

    Jul 19, 2005
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    Feb 6, 2012

    Hi all,

    I am planning on doing literature circles for the first time with my 5th graders. I need some ideas on how you have structured them. Do you leave them fairly open-ended or do you have specific jobs for each student in the group (and how often do you change the jobs...)
    Basically anything you can tell me from your experience doing them would be of benefit!!

  3. Jayneorama

    Jayneorama Rookie

    Nov 24, 2011
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    Feb 6, 2012

    I can tell you the structure I have for my fourth grade book clubs. I have 5-6 students in each club, and I have specific jobs for each student in my group. I make sure that at least one of the jobs (connector is a good one to double up on) could handle two different students doing them, so I can be flexible with my group numbers.

    I have a discussion group leader, who comes up with 5-7 thick, open-ended questions for the group, manages the clock, and makes sure everyone has a chance to participate. I have a connector, who draws a connection between a character/situation in the book to another book, real life, or themselves. They write 5-7 sentences, explaining this connection. I have an illustrator, who "illustrates" with words, giving more information about an aspect of the book (setting, author, something mentioned in the book), and after they write 5-7 sentences about it, can choose to illustrate something they wrote about, if they want. I have a luminary who finds a passage that makes them think - it can be funny, scary, emotional, well-written, or important. They do a 5-7 sentence reflection of that passage, and at book club, they read it to the group. Finally, I have a word wizard who finds 5-7 words from the chapter selection that they weren't sure of the meaning of, find interesting, or just don't hear every day. They write the definitions and note the page numbers, so that they can read the word context to the group. I schedule 20 - 30 minute meetings (depending on the group, and how much they will discuss, vs. look nervously at each other). We change jobs every time we meet and rotate through.

    The written preparation really gets the students ready to share, and gives us great discussion. It also gives me a nice piece of documentation on their level of ability to do a particular task. I have done schedules where all groups meet at the same time, and I rotate from group to group to observe. This year, I have the groups meeting on a rolling basis - one at a time, two groups meeting on Tuesdays, and two groups meeting on Fridays. Both work, but I prefer this way, so I can take good notes and really get a feel for each group's discussions and comprehension levels. The workload is a lot for twice a week meetings for my students, but I let them stop doing book notes after Reader's Workshop every day while their book clubs are meeting, and basically give them a full hour in class each day to read their selections and work on their task. I have laminated cards (5 copies of each) with that job's tasks on it so that all students have to do is pull their task card, and they have their work guidelines in front of them, ready to go.

    I haven't ever started book clubs before second semester started, and would probably do a maximum of 3 book club sessions in the second semester of the school year. The students really love them, but I hate to take students away from reading a just-right book too much - so 2-3, in the second half of a school year, is my balance.

    I hope this is what you had in mind!
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

    Aug 15, 2010
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    Feb 7, 2012

    It really depends on your fifth graders. Some years I need to give my students worksheets to complete with guiding questions or specifics that I want each student to focus on. Other years I can just let my students read and discuss with basic roles or even no roles.

    For the first go around, I would model how to do this with your students. Show them what the dialogue should look like. Show them what each job is supposed to do and how.

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