Running a successful Literature Circles program requires excellent classroom management skills. Proper planning and keeping parents informed are your keys to success! For more information on managing Literature Circles, check out my slidecast presentation on Classroom Book Clubs. You can view the introduction by clicking the video or by visiting the Classroom Book Clubs page for more information.
Management Ideas to Consider:
- Send home a letter to parents that explains your Literature Circle program.
- Photocopy a calendar page for the month and write in all the meeting dates. Send a copy of the calendar home with each student and ask them to post it in a special location at home. Ask parents to help monitor their child's reading and preparation. Many student underestimate the time it takes to complete the packet. They think they can finish the book the night before the assignment is due and still have time to complete the entire packet.
- If a student isn't prepared for the meeting, you may want to let them participate if they have at least read the section. Then call parents immediately to ask for help in getting the student ready for the next meeting. The situation will only get worse if you don't address the problem immediately. I've found that keeping the student out of the meeting doesn't usually motivate them to get ready for the next one. Providing class time, removing a privilege or calling parents seems to work better.
- If you have special ed students in your class, ask the special ed teacher to help with preparing the students for their meetings. The teacher can read the selection aloud to the students and can help them complete their packet. That way they can still participate in the discussions.
- If you have students with low reading levels, you can let them pair with another student and take turns reading the book aloud to each other. You may even decide to allow them to help each other with their packet.
- Some books are available on audiotape or audio CD at your public library. You may want to choose an audio book for the struggling students to listen to while reading their book silently. To find audio books for your Literature Circles, visit the Favorite Resources for Literatures collection of recommended books.
Skills to Introduce Prior to Literature Circles
Prior to implementing Literature Circles, you will want to introduce the skills that students will be expected to use. Use your basal reader, a class novel, or a read-aloud novel to introduce the following skills or others that meet your needs.
- Summarizing a chapter or section of a book
- Writing good discussion questions (Use the Reading Response Questions to work on this skill.)
- Answering questions in complete sentences
- Completing graphic organizers (Venn Diagram, Story Plot Flow Map, Character Map, etc.)
- Illustrating a favorite part of a story and writing a caption for it
- Choosing vocabulary words and making guesses about their meaning (based on context clues)
- Looking up words in a dictionary and choosing the definition that fits the context clues