My recent response to someone on Twitter asking about my Lit Circle program:
I'm so sorry it took so long to respond! Report cards went home today, and conferences are starting on Monday, but I have the time right now to share with you how I do literature circles with my class - something I'm very passionate about! I appreciate your questions and very much enjoy sharing with other teachers any ideas I have!!!
From the #5thChat Discussion:
- Would you be willing to share examples of your student-facing Google docs?
- Here you go. These were our first books on the year. They were still learning how to do summaries. (Some are missing because they did them on paper, as a backup plan for when the internet was inaccessible.) I presented mini-lessons on summarizing, and tried to give support with my comments in the margin. Critiques are also included at the end of each document, but I haven't been able to grade/comment on those yet. (They appear to be very inconsistent! Some kids clearly did not finish! Whoops!)
- I saw that you inserted comments on the "Super Summarizer" docs. Do you do this in real time? At the end of each meeting day? (I love this, BTW, as quick, immediate feedback!)
- I do it before their next lit circle meeting (sometimes a day ahead, sometimes that day). I think it's a great way to differentiate instruction. Kids almost always look forward to their comments from me, even though they know there will probably be a "Revision Assignment."
- About how long do you allot for each meeting? For each portion of the meeting (i.e. the evaluation, the discussion, etc.)?
- We meet every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for one hour. The first 15 minutes are spent evaluating the prior lit circle's behavior, effort, etc. (I use a Survey Monkey for this.). They also read over the prior day's summary on the Google Doc to "get back into the book."
- After the first 15 minutes (approximately), students get into their circles and begin reading that day's assigned pages. In prior years, I made bookmarks with assigned pages on them. This year, I have asked them to divide their total pages by 10 and find nice places to stop each day. This hasn't been as successful, and I think I'm going back to bookmarks next lit circle.
- Halfway through the period, I present a mini-lesson for 5-10 minutes. Currently, they are on how to work with others effectively in a lit circle, so we are role-playing and acting! I can send you those if you'd like them!
- They continue to read and discuss until their assigned pages are done or they run out of time. If they run out of time, they assign each other homework to read up to a certain page before next circle. If they finish early, they can work on their role sheets which are done online (Google Doc or Survey Monkey).
- Does the student assigned the summary have it completed before the meeting?
- They do it for homework prior to the next meeting.
- In some of the pictures of students participating in Literature Circles, I noticed what might be an iPad in the middle of the table. If that is what they are, do they use those to pull up the documents?
- I have six classroom computers, and 12 iPads. Each group is assigned a computer and an iPad. The computer is where everyone goes to read the Google Doc and to complete the Evaluator on Survey Monkey. The iPad is used to look up words or concepts while reading whenever everyone in the group is curious but doesn't exactly know what it means. These are assigned roles each day, but anyone can use the iPad. I actually force them to use it more than they do! It's still new, and they're not used to being encouraged to stop reading to learn!
- Is there one student (on a rotating basis) who is in charge of recording information in the computer? Or do they take turns based on their assigned roles during the meeting?
- Yes, they rotate based on a generic agenda that I have created. I can share if you'd like!
- What does your assessment look like? Do you have a rubric that you use to assign grades? Do you give individualized and group grades?
- I'm not a huge rubric guy, but students are told of the skills that I assess through mini-lessons and random shout-outs. I spend the period listening in to each group, evaluating their individual skills in various areas, and I rely on their daily evaluator to let me know about things that are hard to see (starting discussions, having their book in class, etc.).
From the #5thChat Discussion:
- How does rotating 10 book choices work w/ kids reading below grade level? I offer books based on number of pages (this round will be 175-200 pages per book). There are varying Lexile levels from easy to hard interspersed. I tell kids the Lexile for every book (and I explain what that means). I also tell them how others in previous years have rated that book (if it has been used before). Between all of those hints, students choose the best books for them based on their abilities and based on interest of the book. Some kids end up picking harder books, but because of the discussion rules in place in my classroom, they have to talk about confusions immediately. Some kids choose easy books, but they find ways to interpret it cleverly or get something else constructive out if it.