Literature Circles 101


Literature Circle Pack!

When I first started literature circles with my second graders, I was a little hesitant that they could handle it. After doing it in my fourth grade classroom, I figured that there had to be a way that second graders could benefit from these activities. After a few years of experimenting with different ways to introduce and teach the students the different literature circle jobs, it became evident that students in second grade are capable, and wanting, to participate in literature circles!

There are many different ways to teach and run literature circles, and this is just the way that worked best in my classroom. There is no “right” way or “one” way to do this, but here is how they worked successfully for me.

By November of each year, I had a set routine of meeting with my guided reading groups each week (second grade). I decided to start introducing one literature circle job a week with each of my different-leveled groups. So after reading a short text together in our guided reading group, we would complete a literature circle job together. I would model how to complete each job, and then students got to practice right there with me. Doing it this way allowed me to answer any questions/clarify the purpose of why students were doing that particular job. It took six weeks to teach all of the six jobs (November-December), but by winter break, students knew all of the roles of participating in literature circles.


Job & Description:
Discussion Director
Leads the group in stopping at certain points in the reading for the passage predictor to do their job, asks questions, and starts off reading aloud.
Creative Connector
Makes text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections based on the text read.
Passage Predictor
Predicts what will happen next at two stopping points during the groups’ reading.
Artistic Artist
Illustrates what was read and writes a caption.
Super Summarizer
Records the main events, characters, and setting in the section read.
Word Wizard

Identifies new, interesting, fun words in the text read. Then looks for the definition, part of speech, and writes a sentence of their own.

In January, when students returned from break, I broke students into different literature circle groups based on their reading level/abilities. I generally tried to have a heterogeneous group of two higher-level students, two on-level students, and two below- level students. It never worked out to be perfectly equal, but I was close enough to make each group successful. 

Once students had their groups, we practiced their first literature circle group meeting using the weekly anthology story. This was the key to getting literature circles off to the right start, because by using a text that students were confident with (since we had read it together as a class first on Monday), they were able to more successfully complete their literature circle jobs.

Below is a sample schedule of what literature circles looked liked using the weekly anthology story


Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Whole Class read through anthology story (no lit. circle group meeting)


Literature circles meet to re-read anthology story/start lit circle jobs

Whole class activity with anthology story (no lit. circle group meeting, but students complete their lit. circle job during reader’s workshop time)

Literature circle groups meet to share their completed job

Fun Extension activity with literature circle group

After two to three weeks of using the weekly anthology story for literature circle activities, I introduced each group to a novel at their level (usually around February). I always started a new novel using my Book Cover of Predictions activity sheet (in my Literature Circle Pack), to get students excited and predicting what their novel will be about and who the characters might be.  Students would then meet in their literature circle groups to share their predictions and begin reading their novel. The Discussion Director always starts off reading, and leads the group throughout the literature circle time in stopping to allow the Passage Predictor to do his/her job.  Students read aloud one-two pages at a time (their choice) and take turns going around the circle.  If a student does not have strong reading fluency, the other group members can encourage them to sound out words (We have a conversation before starting groups about how important it is to encourage and support group members so that everyone feels comfortable and confident to participate). 

Once novels are started, here is a typical literature circle group schedule (this becomes a 20-30 minute block separate of our weekly language arts anthology story time):

Week 1:  Starting a Novel

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Book Cover of Predictions activity independently, then groups meet to share
(Possibly begin reading)




Groups meet to    read.....I usually give each group a page # to stop at.   (I rotate around groups)

Groups meet to read together.  I give a stopping page and then students start their job for the week.

Students work independently on their job.

Groups meet to share literature circle job sheets.  I sometimes will give a fun extension activity to work on as a group after sharing.

Week 2:  Continuing a Novel

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Groups meet to read together.  I give a stopping page and assign a certain number of pages for homework.


Groups meet to discuss homework reading. Then groups read a certain amount of pages together and jobs are assigned.

Students work independently on their jobs. 

Groups meet to read together.  I give a stopping page and assign a certain number of pages for homework.



Groups meet to discuss homework reading and to share literature circle job sheets. 
No Reading today.

Week 3/4:  Finishing Up a Novel

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday

Groups meet to read together.  I give a stopping page and assign a certain number of pages for homework.



Groups meet to discuss homework reading. Then groups read a certain amount of pages together and jobs are assigned.

Students work independently on their jobs. 

Groups meet to read together.  I give a stopping page and assign a certain number of pages for homework.


Groups meet to discuss homework reading and to share literature circle job sheets. 
No Reading today.

Homework Reading:

When I assign literature circle book reading for homework, students always have two questions that they have to be prepared to answer:

1.  What was your favorite part and why?
2.  What do you predict will happen next?

After a group finishes a novel, I give a final group project or post-reading activity (as long as I'm not using the novel for another reading group). I then mix groups up for the next round of literature circles, so that students get to interact with different peers. This also allows me the chance to keep groups fluid, moving students in or out of groups if something isn’t working within a group.

I LOVE literature circles and I LOVE that they can be done with primary and upper graders! Here's a few literature circle FREEBIES that I want to share with you:

Literature Circles Bookmarks

Literature Circles FREEBIE Set!

I would love to hear about literature circles in your classroom!

3 comments

  1. I am starting lit circles (for the first time EVER) with my second grade RTI group on Monday. Nervous, but grateful to have found your amazing (and free!!!) resources. THANK YOU!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Laura! Yay! I am so excited that you got literature circles going in your class. Second grade is the perfect age to introduce them. I hope they are off to a great start!!!
    Erin

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you switch their jobs weekly or switch them when they start a new book?

    Thanks for any info!

    ReplyDelete

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