Literature Circles

Using Literature Circles in the Classroom

Literature Circles is a small group structured format for reading and discussing literature. Literature Circle activities can be used with any grade level or in any content area.

Key Elements:

1. Student select reading material.
2. Group students by text choices, not by ability.
3. Discussion is moved by student-generated questions rather than predetermined textbook questions.
4. The use of students' personal responses to literature as the foundation, rather than an analytical or interpretive task.
5. Periodic connecting with other groups in the class.

Basic Steps:

1. Teacher and students should select a variety of literature. Each piece should be briefly introduced to the class. Time should be allotted for the students to browse through each book.
2. Students are then asked to sign up for a Literature Circle and decide which one they would like.
3. Students read the selected story and meet in the Literature Circle to discuss the book. Each student is assigned a literature circle role.
4. Literature Circles may last from two days to a week. Literature Circles are many times only done with one half of the class at a time. The other half is involved in extensive reading, literature Response activities, and writing activities.
5. Literature Circle activtity discussions are open-ended. The focus of the discussion is focused by the students' interests.
6. At the end of the Literature Circle, the group should decide on what their groups next topic will be.
7. At the end of the Literature Circle activity, groups may be asked to present the book to the class, to write personal responses to the book, or develop a creative response to the story.

(Illinois Writing Project, 1989)

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