Are you wanting to push your highest readers? Hold them more accountable with their reading? Well, starting literature circles might be the direction to go! I promise, it is possible!! After watching and discussing literature circles with 2nd and 3rd grade teachers, I thought to myself “my kiddos can do that!” So, I started literature circles with my highest reading group and they LOVE it!
Like everything else, teaching the structure and routine of literature circles takes teaching, practice, and patience. The students are given more responsibility with their reading, which they are not used to. My students were used to reading the text at the back table, discussing it, and writing about it, but now they are responsible for having read the chapter and completing the assignment before I meet with their group. We had to (and still do) have several conversations about responsibility and if they don’t do their job it is hard to discuss the reading as a group. If the students are not prepared to meet because they did not read the chapter or complete their assigned role, they are sent back to their seat to complete it.
In my classroom, I begin literature circles by reading the Flat Stanley series. The students LOVE these books. I also give them a literature circle packet (see below). I begin by introducing the book and some unknown, tricky words they may not know. Then we open our literature packet and discuss the expectations.
After the students read the first chapter, they complete the first role, word wizard. During this role, the students write three unknown words, the page number, and the definition. On this page we also discuss how to use a dictionary, what to do if there is more than one definition, and where they can be found in the classroom. When I meet with their group, we discuss the chapter and the words they found and wrote on the Word Wizard page.
This process, reading one chapter and completing a role in the packet, continues until the whole packet is complete. I feel it is VERY important, especially at the first grade level, to complete the packet together, as a group, discussing the expectation of each role thoroughly before they move into individual roles. This process also gives students more confidence in knowing how to complete each page.
After we have completed the whole packet, the “real” fun of literature circles begins. The students get to choose a role card for the chapter. To prepare the role cards, I printed them on cardstock and laminated for durability. I present them to the students in a “pick a card, any card” type of game, fanning them out face down. My only rule is that students may not have the same role twice in one book.
--Ashley Klein, First Grade Teacher
You can snag the student packet and role cards in my shop for three bucks! If interested you can follow the link below! :)