November 16, 2012
Literature Circles Made Easy - New Resources
The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a challenge for you and your students. Everyone is excited about the upcoming winter holidays, and it’s hard to keep kids focused on their work. This is especially true in reading, because when students are reading or working quietly on assignments, their minds can easily wander. Literature Circles to the rescue! This instructional strategy is fun, engaging, and effective, and now is the perfect time to get started!
If you've never tried Literature Circles, you might be wondering what this strategy is all about. Literature Circles are often called Book Clubs, and they operate much like adult book clubs. In a nutshell, students form groups by selecting books that interest them. Then they meet regularly with other students who are reading the same book to discuss what they’re reading. If Literature Circles sound a bit overwhelming, don’t worry! I’ve compiled an entire collection of resources on my website, including some wonderful new book recommendations, to make them extremely easy to implement.
About 15 years ago when I first started my Teaching Resources website, I created a page to gather and share free Literature Circle resources. I eventually added so much content that I had to divide it into several different pages by category. You’ll find descriptions of different Literature Circle strategies, a free webinar recording in which I explain how to implement Literature Circles, and tips for managing Literature Circles in your classroom. Best of all, you'll find page after page of free printables including graphic organizers, organizational tools, and other resources to help you get started. After you finish reading this blog post to learn about my other resources on this topic, you’ll definitely want to visit the main Literature Circles page on Teaching Resources.
Teachers used to assign roles in Literature Circles, but that’s no longer the norm. I experimented with Literature Circles for many years and eventually developed an effective and fun method that does not use roles. This method worked so well for me that I created a slidecast eLearning course to share my strategies with others. Classroom Book Clubs: Literature Circles Made Easy consists of a series of short videos in which I share a step-by-step method for getting started with Literature Circles. This teaching resource is available on CD or as a digital download, and it includes student printables and organizational forms. If you’d like to know more, you can watch a short video on my Literature Circles page on Teaching Resources. You can also preview the complete packet of printables online.
One of the most critical elements of developing a great Literature Circles program is locating terrific books for students to read and discuss. Unfortunately, this step can be difficult and time-consuming because after you locate the books, you need to find time to preview them before sharing them with your class. Fortunately, help is on the way!
A few months ago, I embarked on a major undertaking – to create a huge collection of Literature Circle books recommended by teachers for teachers. I’m excited to announce that Favorite Literature Circles Resources is now live on my website. Here you can find book recommendations for professional reading as well as four pages of book recommendations for students in one convenient location. The student books are categorized by genre, and you can click the book covers on those pages to read more recommendations on Amazon.com. I’m working to add links to the audio CD versions of those books so you can differentiate instruction for your struggling readers. The audio versions will also save you time because you can listen to them to preview the books before using them with your class.
Collaborate and Share
What’s your favorite book for Literature Circles? If you would like to help add to the growing collection of teacher recommendations, click this Google Doc link to share your favorite title with us. From time to time, I’ll update the pages with new book titles, and I may use your suggestions to create a downloadable list of recommendations. Click here to sign up for my free Candler's Classroom Connections newsletter to be sure you're notified of new resources on this topic.
Good luck with Literature Circles! I hope these resources help you and your students enjoy the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making this an enjoyable and stress-free time in the classroom!