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January 23, 2012


Middle School – 6th Grade Literature Circles

by Randy Ziegenfuss

Literature circles allow students to participate in self-directed discussions about literature. In groups of 4-6, students choose a book for their group to read. The students meet daily, setting goals for completion and choosing jobs for discussion.

With Falcon Apps (Google Apps for Education) and laptop computers, every student collaborates outside of class before meeting with their group. Students monitor their group members’ progress, chat to solve problems before the discussion, and guide each other to better contributions in class. The teacher can monitor student work in progress, providing quick and easy feedback to facilitate better preparation for discussions.

The 1:1 access to laptop computers and Falcon Apps  has facilitated:

  • increased student collaboration.
  • more focused and productive group discussions.
  • student goal-setting, teamwork, and accountability.
  • faster feedback from peers and teachers.
  • extended learning beyond the confines of the classroom walls.
  • students seeking knowledge from more sources than just the teacher.

This is a sample of what a student prepared for the discussion. Students fill out a checklist after completing their job.

Here is the document after receiving feedback from the teacher.

During class students view the shared document. They can view a copy of their partner’s work just by pulling it up on their laptop computer, revising and adding or removing information based on the flow of the discussion. The entire discussion process is facilitated through the shared document, and the students’ responses are improved by the ability to quickly edit their work, provide and receive feedback.

Students use the internet to supplement the text by looking up words and concepts, looking for other interpretations of the text by other readers outside the class, reading comments, finding images and video to help visualize and contextualize, and locating examples of literary terms applied to their text (such as metaphors and themes) used by other internet users.

After the completion of the literature circle discussion, students demonstrate comprehension through a project of their choice. Using a shared Falcon Apps document, students sign up for a project choice and regularly update the document with their progress. The freedom to choose a final product has boosted student engagement. Watch this sample literature circle project by Matt D.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. bajaindl
    Jan 22 2012

    As the school librarian, not only do I love to see the students’ final projects they share with one another, but the genuine enthusiasm when classmates sometimes choose their next titles sparked by what a classmate has shared via such projects.

    –Mrs. Jaindl


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