“Literature Circles” is an approach to supporting and guiding the development of older readers that I have developed over my years of teaching in national and international schools. It is a way of making Guided Reading more appropriate and scaffolded for older readers, who are still refining their skills of literal comprehension and really focussing on the development of their skills of inferential comprehension. My approach can be adapted to any age from 8-9 years old and upwards… even to adults! It makes the teaching and learning of reading, a well-structured process while allowing for plenty of wonderful inquiry and putting collaborative skills at the heart of the learning process.
Topic 1: Learning To Read & Reading To Learn
We will look at the main reading skills of decoding and comprehension and discuss how they differ at different ages and stages of reading development. This is true for younger readers and for readers to learn in a new or additional language. We will also have an opportunity to share ideas about effective strategies to improve and strengthen a range of reading skills while keeping an element of fun and pleasure in the reading process.
Topic 2: How do Literature Circles Work: Structure and organisation
I will share how I structure Literature Circles and describe some organizational strategies I have found to work best in making connections between my readers and the written curriculum. By bringing the curriculum to your students, through identifying the specific Learning Outcomes you are targeting in your Literature Circles, you will find ways to engage ALL of your readers in an established routine and shared responsibility for reading and responding to what is being read. I have found that Literature Circles are one of the favorite times for my students, and myself, as we learn a language together.
Topic 3: Literature Circles In Action: The 5 Reading Roles
There are five roles that I have developed and adapted from other teachers as I have experienced a range of national and international school environments and curriculum frameworks. Literature Circles are flexible and you can easily adapt them to meet the way your school works and the expectations that exist around the planning, teaching, learning, and assessment of reading. Students each experience being a Summarizer, Connector, Illustrator, Word Wizard, and Discussion Director during a cycle of Literature Circles. I will share how all of this works, some of the guiding questions I use, and how students record their reading responses.
Topic 4: Building a Culture Where Everyone Loves Reading
A love of reading starts with selecting the right book at the right time. Bringing a sense of choice and collaboration to this approach to shared and guided reading is key to making Literature Circles a highlight of your language program. Our discussion will revolve around the options that exist for grouping students in different ways, according to different criteria, including interests, curriculum connections, reading levels, and friendship groups. I will also outline how I engage students by involving them in the process of selecting the book that they will read together in their Literature Circles group.
Topic 5: Making Life Easier: How Literature Circles Help Guide Your Teaching of Reading, Reduce Your Workload and Support Your Assessment and Reporting to Parents
All teachers are busy, so finding ways to reduce your workload and increase your impact on student learning is what we will discuss here. I have found Literature Circles are a great way to reduce the time I spend in planning and preparation and I will describe how this works. There are also great resources we can share which allow for easy and timely recording of each student’s contribution and progress during Literature Circles. These notes provide strong and relevant details about individual readers which you can use when you are assessing students and writing or speaking about their reading development to colleagues, parents, and the students themselves. We will discuss how this can be achieved to record specific information about the development of each student’s knowledge, skills, and understandings as readers.