Ep 194: Literature Circles are Pointless Unless You’re Doing These 3 Things - EB Academics

Ep 194: Literature Circles are Pointless Unless You’re Doing These 3 Things

There is no greater music to an ELA teacher’s ears than a roomful of students buzzing excitedly about books. And you can get that buzz going with literature circles. But, we’re going to be honest. We are not a fan of literature circles and how they are typically run. Students are in small groups discussing their different books, and it’s completely student-led with just a little structure up front from the teacher in regards to the different roles they have, like the discussion director, literary luminary, vocabulary enricher, etc.

Those student roles seem to be so prominent with literature circles, and ultimately, they weaken the level of critical analysis that is possible with an effective lit circle! If this sounds familiar, then this episode is going to be extremely helpful for you in considering how to best structure your lit circles, all while keeping students engaged in rigorous learning and discussions!

In this episode, Caitlin and Jessica will discuss why literature circles aren’t their favorite and what you can do to actually make them an effective tool in your classroom. They share 3 simple steps for best structuring your lit circles, all while keeping students engaged in rigorous learning and discussions!

Tune in now to hear:

  • [0:58] Caitlin talks about her favorite thing as a teacher-having authentic discussions with her students about what they’re reading.
  • [01:41] Caitlin discusses how literature circles are typically run in the classroom and why she doesn’t like this approach. She encourages listeners to evaluate their process to see if they can “step it up.”
  • [03:53] Caitlin asks listeners to reflect on their literature circle experiences to see if they’ve experienced any of the following:surface level discussions, off task students, or never ending literature circles. 
  • [05:20] Jessica explains that in order to have a fully effective literature circle you need to focus on the 3 things being shared in this episode: setting expectations, preparing your students for discussions, and implementing standards based activities to keep your students focused and engaged.
  • [06:38] Jessica talks about how our resource is set up to effectively conduct a lit circle and what you can do to have a successful lit circle in your classroom.
  • [09:00] Cailtin recaps exactly what a literature circle is and talks about how important it is to include the 3 essential steps discussed in this episode.
  • [9:26] Caitlin dives into the first step in creating a successful lit circle-setting expectations.This includes your plan with an end goal in sight. 
  • [11:06] Jessica explains component #2 of effective lit circles: preparing your students for discussions. This ensures that you’re cutting out surface level discussions. Conduct a practice lit circle meeting for your students to get acquainted and practice having a discussion.She shares 5 engaging questions for your practice discussion.
  • [17:30] Caitlin shares essential step #3 while discussing some of the activities in our lit circles resource so you can create them on your own.They are also available in our TPT store here.
  • [25:00] Caitlin reminds listeners to recall the 3 steps for creating engaging literature circles in your classroom and realizes that maybe they aren’t the worst thing in the world when done correctly.

Click here to listen now!

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