Literature Circle Comprehension Strategy

Literature circles provide an opportunity for students to read a text, share their response to it, and learn their classmates’ responses to the same text in a small group setting (Kane, 2007).  Sometimes, within the groups, students are assigned roles.  These roles include but are not limited to discussion director, connector, word wizard, and artist.   Each student then prepares their role for the portion being read and will bring their perspective to the group.  Or, students may simply participate in the group without designated roles.  In either case, the students bring their thoughts to the group for meaningful discussions that may be monitored by the teacher.  Through these discussions, deeper understandings develop. 

Strategy Steps

Before reading:

  1. Prepare a text set of books, magazines, newspapers, Internet sites, or other sources on one topic or theme.
  2. Give book-talks to introduce each of the reading selections.  Highlight important concepts or areas of interest.
  3. Allow students to choose their first and second choices from the texts.
  4. Groups students based upon their selections into groups of four or five members. 

If you are going to use roles:

    Before students begin reading within their groups, it is important to model and practice the roles as a class.  Dependent upon the number of roles, this may take about a week.

Day 1

  1. Display a passage of text that can be read during class.  (A newspaper article is an excellent option.)
  2. Begin reading it aloud to the class.
  3. Stop reading abruptly to share what you, the teacher, are connecting to the text, whether it be something else you have read, seen, heard, or experienced. 
  4. Write what you connect to on a piece of paper.
  5. Have students practice making connections.  Students should develop at least three connections when they read. 

Day 2

  1. Display a passage of text that can be read during class.  (A newspaper article is an excellent option.)
  2. Begin reading it aloud to the class.
  3. Stop reading abruptly to share what you, the teacher, are wondering about the text. 
  4. Write what you wonder in the margin of the text.
  5. Continue reading and modeling the questioning strategy.
  6. Explain to students that this is the role of the discussion director--to develop questions for the group to discuss.  There may be a right answer.  There may be no answer at all. 
  7. Have students practice making at least three discussion questions from the reading.

Day 3

  1. Display a passage of text that can be read during class.  (A newspaper article is an excellent option.)
  2. Begin reading it aloud to the class.
  3. Stop reading abruptly to focus upon a difficult word. 
  4. Write down the word, the page and paragraph number that it appears in, and copy down the sentence in which it appears.  Based on context clues, make a guess as to what the word means.
  5. Look the word up in the dictionary.
  6. Write down the definition.
  7. Have students practice finding at least three words of which they are unsure of the definition and writing down the steps.  This is the word wizard.

Day 4

  1. Display a passage of text that can be read during class.  (A newspaper article is an excellent option.)
  2. Read it as a class.
  3. After reading, ask everyone to pull out paper and something with which to draw.
  4. Ask students to think about a portion of the passage they they can visualize.
  5. Students may draw images that represent the text as a whole, a portion of the text, a scene, or even an important vocabulary term.  They may sketch anything that seems important during the reading.  Emphasize that students must be able to explain their drawing in relation to the text that has been read. 
  6. Provide students with drawing paper and art supplies (crayons, coloring pencils, scissors, glue, colored paper) to encourage creativity. 
  7. Have students share their drawings. 

If you are using roles, establish a schedule for who is doing what role, or how this will be selected.  As a note of warning--the artist is an often much sought-after role. 

During reading:

Have students read independently or in groups, keeping in mind their role if they are using them.  They should record their responses to the text in order to share with their group members.

Post-reading:

After students have read a selection, they should meet within their groups.  Meetings should be scheduled regularly so that readings, roles, and thoughts are prepared for the group appropriately.  Students should take turns leading the discussion, but all should be involved. 

(Kane, 2007, p. 57)

 

Implementation Guide

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