Starting about November in first grade, I use Literature Circles as one effective way to teach literature in my classroom. I alternate Fridays for Literature Circles and Internet Inquiries. At our parent meeting in the beginning of the year, I explain both these activities to parents.
Here's how I teach using Literature Circles:
On a Monday I set out five different sets of books, varying in reading level, but appropriate for first graders. Each child chooses a book. I don't worry if the book is written at the child's reading level. I have a parent letter and Activity Sheet that goes home with the book.
The Activity Sheet has the following assignments:
Monday: Have a person at home read the book to you.
Tuesday: Have a person read the book to you and talk about the characters in the story.
Wednesday: Read the book to a person in your family and talk about the story.
Thursday: Read the book to a person in your family and to draw a picture of your favorite part of the book.
Friday: Bring the book and your picture back to school.
On Literature Circle Friday I am a facilitator. We usually spend most of the day on this fun literature study. The students first get into groups by matching the book that they have chosen with other students who chose the same book. They read the book together. Next they talk about the book and show their picture of their favorite part of the book. During this time I am visiting with each group for part of their discussion. Then comes the students' favorite part. As a group they plan how they want to share their book with the rest of the class. Anything (within reason) goes.
In the past, they have shared by: painting, making puppets and having puppet shows, making books illustrated with various art medium including computer art, rewriting the story, acting it out, filming and making an iMovie video and displaying it on the TV, writing and singing a song about the story, or making murals.
My role is to facilitate by providing supplies and helping with technical needs. I also infrequently need to guide a child or group to refocus. Most of the time the students and groups are highly motivated.
The grand finale is the presentations. The groups take turns sharing their book with the rest of the class. Sometimes we invite another class to watch our presentations after we have done the Literature Circle activity a couple of times.
I use this evaluation tool that is printed on the back of the original activity sheet so that the students and their parents know how they will be assessed.
Literature Circle Activities Evaluation
(To be filled out by the teacher)
+ Consistently / Independently
√ With guidance
- Needs improvement
___Student returned the Literature Circle book.
___Student worked hard on Literature Circle activities.
___Student used time wisely for Literature Circle activities.
___Student cooperated and helped others in the Literature Circle group.
___Literature Circle project shows student's best effort.
___Student chose projects that would challenge her/him.