Looks like I'm in the same boat as you, but for HS
students. My Lit Circles have never quite worked in the
past, and I'm determined to keep trying!
I don't have any "pearls" for you, but I thought I'd share
what other have told me:
- Only offer 4-5 titles
- All titles should center around a theme or genre, so that
you can still have whole class discussions about those
themes and how they are represented/developed in each novel
(each lit circle can do presentations, etc)
- A couple of teachers suggested starting with short stories
around a theme - something fun like "ghost stories" - as a
warm up for the students, what to expect. Also, this is a
fairly "easy" genre to tackle as a group, even with
different stories ... how is suspense developed,
forshadowing, plot, etc.
- Have specific as well as open-ended questions and/or
discussion topics that the circles need to address in
their "talks" with each other.
- 2-3 times during the unit, mix up the groups and have each
circle rep "teach" something from their novel (prior to
this, the groups have to help each other determine what to
teach - this should motivate them to talk about the book and
stay on task - it also hits on great skill-builders like
cooperative learning, communication, etc. ... I hear using
peer-evals can help with this as well)
Like I said, I'm still figuring it out too, but these are
the suggestions that seem wisest to me.
Also - a fellow LA teacher just recommended a book to
me, "Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles" by Harvey Daniels
& Nancy Steineke. He swears by it. I'm waiting on it at
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