Posted by: Kathy Cassidy | April 11, 2008

Improving Your Literature Circles

Live blogged (I’ve always wanted to say that) at the Saskatchewan Reading Convention in Regina.  


Faye Brownlie – Grand Conversations, Thoughtful Responses


Marketing the Books:  Faye is modeling ways of introducing books to students so that they can make good choices for Literature Circles.  She is clear about the settings of the books, the genre and reads a small section from each book.  She never tells the kids if the books are too hard or too easy for them.  She goes with their judgment because readers should make their own choices. 


Literature Circle Conversations:  Her key idea is “say something”.  What are you thinking?  Tell us.  After conversation, ask who made a connection with this?  Who thought “I hadn’t thought of it that way?”  How many of you got an image in your mind? 


Effective Discussions:  Don’t jump in to start as the teacher.  Let them start and jump in only to add to the conversations. 

  • All voices must be included
  • Everyone must feel included
  • Everyone’s ideas are respected
  • The discussion should move us to new understandings


Response Journals

  • Initially, written in class, together
  • Develop criteria together for powerful responses

A response should include a summary and thoughts. The challenge is to get the thoughts part to outweigh the summary part. 


Comprehension Strategies:  SampleMake a container that has three pictures on it showing one thing about each of three characters. (My own children have always hated this kind of assignment.)


My personal reflection:  Literature circles do not work for emerging readers; however, readers whose reading level is near the end of grade two can begin to use these strategies. 


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