Student led discussions, with the
teacher as an observer. Wow!
To acquaint your students with Lit Circles try
- Choose a literature book that coordinates with
what you are studying.
- Introduce the book to the entire class.
- Let students divide themselves into groups of 2 -
4, or students can be grouped by the teacher, taking into account their
(Sometimes having one better reader in the
group is helpful for the slower group members. The better reader might
do the biggest share of reading aloud while the others follow along in their
books. For very slow readers, the teacher functions as an audible book
and reads the selections aloud while the students follow in their books.
Students can be given a 3 X 5 card to hold under each line being read.
This helps them focus, and the teacher can tell if they are really following
along. These students can occasionally read a paragraph aloud also.)
- Each group will move together through the book at its
(Some groups might need to be prompted toward a
deadline. For the groups that get done with the book quickly, have
another book or two they can choose from to read in "Literature Circle"
form. Most fast readers are thirsty for more books to read at their
Each lit group should follow this
(without teacher interference unless necessary)
- Decide how much of the book to read before the
- Decide whether they will read some of the
reading section together or all on their own.
- Students use small sticky notes to mark
places in the story they might want to discuss. Sticky notes can
also hold written comments for the coming discussion.
- To prepare for discussion, use one of the
Discussion Launchers listed below. Which prompt to use can be
determined by the teacher and given to students when they have decided
how much to read that day. The prompts are used as a platform for
the discussion of that reading section.
- The Discussion Director changes every day.
Students take turns in this role on a rotating basis.
- (Sometimes other roles are given to the other
group members, but many teachers discard them after a while.)
- The Discussion Director can ask questions other than the Discussion Launcher. Like... "What
did you think of...?"
- Students write in personal journals a response
to what they read. They can write about a personal connection with
the story, something that part of the story reminded them of, or answer
the discussion launcher on paper.
- Students should write a minimum
number of words. (Maybe their grade number times ten.
Example: 5th grade X 10 =
50 words.) There is no maximum amount of written response, only
minimum. As their teacher, you know their capabilities. Make
minimum requirements accordingly as you help them stretch their skills.)
What does the teacher do?
During group discussions, the teacher observes as an
outsider, listening to the groups, and prompting good behavior as needed.
Teachers have found that most students work well in a student directed group.
If a student is removed from his or her group for misbehavior, isolation
usually serves as an impetus to keep within behavior guidelines.
- I liked...
- My favorite person...
- I noticed...
- What if...
- Something that reminded me of a time in my
own life... (Called a personal connection)
- I like these descriptions...
- My least favorite person...
- The "villain" in the story...
- I predict...
- If I could end the story myself, here is
how I would end it...
- Changes in a character...
- Comparing characters...
- Where in the world is this place (town,
- I wonder what this means...
Teacher Cites with more info: