Monday, January 19, 2015

Literature Circles for Primary

I'm constantly looking for ways to change up my instruction throughout the year. What I start off the year doing, for the most part, ends up changing about a billion times before the end of the year. Part of being a perfectionist is that I'm never satisfied. Which can be a good thing and a bad thing. 

With my group of kiddos this year, nothing and I mean NOTHING that has worked for me in the past works now. Sigh. So changing things up has become a necessity to find what will work for this group.  After refreshing my knowledge of Reader's Workshop, and looking back through textbooks I used when I was working on my Reading Endorsement, I came across Literature Circles. Of course I had heard about Literature Circles before, but I had never tried them in a primary classroom. I spent Winter Break thinking of ways that I could make Lit Circles work for us. By no means am I an expert, but here is what has been working in my classroom so far {fingers crossed}...
If you're not familiar with Literature Circles, basically students are placed into groups and assigned roles/jobs with the goal that they will read a selected text, respond to the text, and share their thinking with their group members. Often times Literature Circle texts are chosen by students. Therefore, they end up selecting their groups based on the text they have chosen. With my students, at least until they become familiar with the structure and responsibilities of a Literature Circle, I choose the text and groups they are assigned to based on reading ability level. 

I designed my Literature Circles around a camping theme to make it fun and engaging for my students. We talked about how we would be reading text and sharing our thoughts about what we have read with our groups kind of like we were sitting around a campfire sharing stories. The roles/jobs that I assign my students are geared towards reading strategies and standards used in the primary grades. Since this was new for my students, I really spent some time modeling the procedures of Literature Circles. I read aloud Henry and Mudge and the Long Weekend and we completed one-to-two job response sheets per chapter to get my kiddos familiar with the expectations for independent work. Also, I wanted them to have our model to refer back to when they began to independently read their own book.

After we went through each job, as a class, we came up with rules for Literature Circles. We've been meeting to discuss Literature Circle time each day and talk about what went well and what needs to be improved. Having an anchor chart for rules let's us add to them as needed.

Each job also has a necklace that students wear to indicate the job they have for the day.

Again, the jobs all have a camping theme. I included Literature Circle roles for both fiction and nonfiction text {not pictured}. 
Fiction Literature Circle Roles: 
-making connections
-identifying the setting
-writing a summary

Nonfiction Literature Circle Roles:
-main idea
-main topic
-author's purpose
-reflecting before, during, and after reading {KWL}
-text features

The following roles could be used for either:
-finding interesting words
-determining author's purpose

You may be wondering when I fit in Literature Circles. I follow the Reader's Workshop format during my reading block. After a 10-15 minute mini lesson, I have my student break up into their Literature Circle groups. They work for about 45 minutes then, I have them discuss what they read with each other for another 10 minutes. During our closing rime, we come back together as a class and share anything we noticed from independent work time that relates to our mini lesson. This takes about 5 minutes. While students work independently, I visit with individual students and either have them read aloud to me or look through their written responses. I take this time to monitor student reading progress and take notes on what I need to work with students on either individually or whole group.

My Literature Circle packet includes all the printables needed for each job and more detailed instructions on how to get Literature Circles up and running in your classroom.   

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