Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thursday Throw Down

I love participating in Erin’s monthly Thursday Thrown Down because it focuses on one of my favorite topics Student Engagement!! This month I am showcasing a new addition to my classroom – literature circles.  This is not a new concept to many of you but it was a big step away from the control I like to have over my students in school reading. I have loved the results and the feedback I have received from my students- they LOVE being able to work in groups and have a choice in what they read.

How I Run Literature Circles :

 1. Lay all the books out on my back table and allow the kids to come back and choose their top 4 books. I remind them to not choose a book based off of their friend’s interest because they will be the ones stuck reading the book, so they better like the
books they choose.

2. I then read through all the papers and start grouping the kids based off of the choices they put down on their papers. I try really hard to give them the top two but sometimes I need to go to their back up choices.

3. Once they have been assigned to a group I allow them to have a quick meeting where they can decide on when they will do a book chat and how many pages/chapters they will need to have read by that time.  We also went over what constituted a good book chat, a great book chat and a book chat that left the listener wanting more.

4.Then I back off and let them read at their own pace! My only stipulation is that they have at least 4 book chats (about 10 mins. long) throughout the course of the book. The deadline for completion was also given.

So What is a Book Chat???

 Here is where I am able to get a little techy! One of the hardest parts of lit circles is keeping the kids accountable when I am not listening to their group’s discussion. When my students are ready to conduct a book chat I give them my iPod that has a microphone and send them into the hall to have their book discussion. (No worries my door is open so I can see them the
entire time. )
Why is this fantastic ?? I am able to listen to their groups book chat anytime I can! No more trying to fit in all the groups in a
time period with the addition of the microphone I am able to really analyze their discussion and give feedback before their next book chat.

I have also noticed that the kids are far more prepared for the discussions when they are being taped because they know I will be listening to it later but aren’t flustered answering questions in front of the teacher.

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