What are literature circles? Literature circles for upper elementary students are small groups of students who come together to read and discuss literature. The purpose of literature circles is to promote reading comprehension, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. Overall, literature circles provide upper elementary students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of literature, build collaboration skills, and develop a love of reading.
Features of Literature Circles
In literature circles, students take turns leading the discussion. They ask questions, share their thoughts and opinions, and facilitate group activities. Everyone in the group is working together in an equal and active way.
Students have the freedom to choose their own books or a selection of books provided by the teacher. This allows students to explore their interests and encourages a love of reading.
Students are assigned different roles and responsibilities within their literature circle groups. These roles may include discussion leader, vocabulary enforcer, summarizer, connector, and illustrator. Literature circles encourage students to engage in critical thinking by asking open-ended questions and making connections between the text and their own experiences.
Literature circles can be adapted to fit the needs and interests of the students. Teachers may choose to include creative activities, such as drama or art projects, to enhance the reading experience. There are several ideas for projects in the item below. It is also included in the bundle.
Steps to Implement Literature Circles
Select books that are at an appropriate reading level for your students, and consider the interests and backgrounds of your students when choosing titles.
Assign roles to the students so that everyone is an active participant. Decide on a set of roles for each student to play in the literature circle, such as “discussion director,” “word wizard,” or “connector.”
Prepare discussion questions. Write a set of thought-provoking discussion questions for each book, and provide copies for each student in the group. Questions and discussion cards below make this so easy. Just print and go. You can use these with any book.
Assign groups. Divide your students into small groups of four to six students, and assign each group a book to read.
Establish a routine. Set a regular meeting time for each literature circle, such as once a week, and establish clear guidelines for participation.
Encourage students to actively participate in the discussions, ask and answer questions, and make connections to the text.
Offer support. Be available to offer support and guidance as needed, but also allow the students to take the lead in the discussions.
Regularly evaluate the progress of each literature circle, and make adjustments as needed to ensure that the students are engaged and making progress. A rubric is available in this set and is also in the bundle.
Celebrate the successes of each literature circle, and recognize the achievements of individual students.
Literature Circle Bundle Available on TpT
By using literature circles, upper elementary students can practice critical thinking, active reading, and effective communication, while also engaging with challenging texts in a supportive and collaborative environment.
To see a webinar about literature circles, click here.