I recently read an a piece of work by Harvey Daniels–What’s the Next Big Thing with Literature Circles?
Harvey recaps recent history of language arts based teaching methods and explains why literature circle is one of the popular methods of instruction now.
For starters, many methods including worksheets often become tedious and overuse becomes common. Harvey Daniel’s explains that the difference with literature circles is due to students actually enjoying their learning. Harvey Daniel’s states there are 4 words to capture why literature circles work: engagement, choice, responsibility, and research.
Students are responsible for sharing their ideas, coming prepared to discuss the book and in small groups of 4-5, each student has the opportunity for airtime. Students are also happy to have the change to work collectively as leaders rather than have everything run by a teacher.
Students have the opportunity to pick what books they are going to read. Compare this to old school novel study where a teacher has to work to ensure students by into a book. If I am being honest, I loved all the books my elementary teachers chose–I imagine they had worked had to make choices based on previous student preferences. But–with allowing choice, students are more likely to take ownership their learning and have fun.
Literature circles treat students as leaders of their own learning–they give them responsibility that resembles adult book groups. This autonomy and ability to work together to come up with ground rules, self-assess, and create meeting schedules where all members are required to participate.
This area refers to data created to reflect the efficiency of literature circles. I will save you the reading. Literature circles benefit students. Research shows that students who practice and that have opportunity to share, make connections with text, and listen to others are more likely to engage with their reading and develop greater comprehension skills.
Literature circles are big picture exercises–the goal is to help create students become citizens that can find enjoyment in texts, learn reading strategies and to discern information. Literature circles offer students the opportunity to share their findings in safe settings that have a variety of ways to share their learning–this makes assessment more accurate for students who show their learning based on different preferences.