Monday, March 12, 2012

Literature Circles

I love reading and want my students to become independent readers. One of the biggest things I push in my classroom is having reactions to text. We talk a lot about listening to our inner reading voice when it says things like "Yuck, Wow, Weird, or All Right!" Literature circles is a great way to do read and response when it is left up to the students.

I started introducing the concept of a literature circle right after Christmas. At this time we were deep into our reading tracks and understanding the different types of responses. This made it easy because when I introduce the jobs the students were already familiar with the strategy.  For example, our visualizations are similar to the artist. Our discussion director facilitates questions. You get the idea, right?

Well here is how we do literature circles in my room. They are so much fun. It starts on Monday. I do a quick book talk on the selections for the week. There are three choices. Each group has six kids in it. I have added a new student recently but it hasn't been a problem yet so there are times that a group will have seven kids in it.

I display the books throughout the morning and the kids can look over them during our Daily 5 time. This helps them choose a just right book or one that interests them. I do not emphasize levels during literature circles because we have done minilessons addressing how to find a group member to help you read when a book becomes challenging.

Now that the kids are familiar with the books we take some time to choose a book AND job. I let them have complete control over it. This is how I do it. I have clothespins with the kids names on them. After lunch the clothespins are passed out. I call the kids by tables and let them choose a book and job. The jobs are Connector, Performer, Discussion Director, Artist, Word Finder, and Storyteller. The kids clip their clothespin on the job they want with the appropriate book.

The different colors help distinguish groups. I printed the job titles on address labels and left the large label in the middle blank. Every week I write the new title using an Expo marker. The numbers beside each job title help me to organize which child has which book. This way I can easily pin point at the end of the week who still needs to return their books. It's simple - I just put a post it note on the inside cover of the book with the number one and I make sure whoever is the connector for that group gets book one.

You can see here that I have two students that will be the performer. A neat thing that I didn't count on was the students organizing themselves within the group based on their book number. They are great at taking turns just going off of the numbers of their books.
I usually give the students all day on Tuesday to read over their books. They also get most of Wednesday to read over their books. On Wednesday afternoon I allow them to begin their job paper. I make them wait to ensure that they do read the book. I store the job papers in the pocket chart below. I got this from Office Max. I found the job papers on ProTeacher a long time ago, but I was sad to see they are not there now. I do know that you can do a google search and find some pretty basic ones.
This chart is great because it has a magnet or you can use 3M hooks to hang it. Mine hangs on my air conditioner.
The students take the remainder of Wednesday and Thursday to finish their jobs. I have provided a notebook full of job papers that we completed as examples for references. It's helpful because students are likely to serve a different role from week to week so it's useful to have this notebook as a refresher.

On Friday we get to share about the books. I don't get too involved other than to police to be sure that we are not spending too long on one person's role. The students are good about paying attention to one another. They also enjoy a break from some of the other parts of our day to just have a 'grown up' conversation about a book they selected on their own. Here are a few action shots of our most recent literature circle.

Asking and answering questions.

Retelling the story to a very attentive group.

Making connections - it appears it was something funny.

Acting like a bird that is doing some good thinking.

More performances but this group had a book about cowboys.

So, please share with me some of your ideas for literature circles! I'm very interested to see how other second grade classes run them. This is my second year of trying them and I feel like they are far improved but have a long way to go to be what they could be.


  1. I did Literature Circle with my above-grade level readers last year with chapter books. It was VERY hard to find anything at the primary level! (Before, I had done them in fourth grade). I love that you are using shorter books with them, though! I'm wondering if I need to bring my binder back out and do them with my on to below groups this year! I created my sheets and they're on my TpT store if you want to check them out! I have some similar roles and others are based off of "Strategies that Work" including Predictor, Connector, Visualizer, etc. I like the "Performer" one, though! That is neat! My kids always like to be Discussion Director and Character Captain! :)

    1. Our bookroom at school has lots of six packs right down to a level A . My kids have loved it. Thanks for following me. I will check out your role sheets.