Literature Circles

You like having choices right? Of course you do! Well, your students are no different. It's amazing how students respond to learning when they have a choice in the matter.

One thing that has really made a difference is using literature circles in my classroom. I started out the semester with a full class novel: Of Mice and Men. We did the usual responses, discussions, activities, and etc. My second unit has been a literature circle based on teenage hardships. Can you say student buy-in? I chose books that I knew would be engaging for my students. I didn't pick classics because I knew that when I let my students loose with these books that the novels would have to be something they chose to keep them engaged.

I started off the year by laying out ten novels that I had chosen based around a common theme. I had students rank the books based on how interested they were in them. I then spent time sorting students into groups based on their rankings.

I made a calendar that included reading days, mini lessons, small group discussions, and whole group discussions. This gave me an idea of how I wanted to structure the unit. In addition to a calendar to keep us on track, we've been using the depth and complexity literature circles created by Got to Teach, and it has been amazing!
The majority of my students have blown me away with their level of responsibility and engagement. They made their own job calendars within their groups, came up with expectations, and worked together to get everything figured out. I am so excited about using lit circles to give my students some freedom in how they utilize their time in my class.

Have you used literature circles before? Do you have any amazing lessons that blow your students away? How do you allow students to have choice in their learning?
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