Literature circles have been used in the classroom for over 10 years. The structure of literature circles promote 21st century learning – students working together within a framework to extend themselves to higher levels of thinking. When done properly, students incorporate many of the Habits of the Mind skills as they move their team forward. They not only develop a closer relationship to the text, but also relate it to their own world.
The ‘jobs’ that drive the literature circle have not changed much over the years, but the means of accomplishing those jobs has. I sat in on Tiffani Brown’s presentation on Literature Circles at the CUE Conference. She has infused different web-based applications into the jobs, making them more fun and engaging for the students. Here are some of her suggestions:
Connector: Use Bubbl.Us, kidspiration/inspiration, or diagram.ly to allow students to make visual connections and explore further branches of connections.
Questioner: Create a Socratic Method Blog. Use the blog as a place for all questioners to post their inquiries. Then consider offering bonus points for students who post thoughtful answers to those questions.
Literary Luminary: Use Wordle or Tagxedo to create a word cloud from a collection of quotes from the story.
Summarizer: Use TimeToast or WhenInTime to create an on-going timeline of the story. It can be expanded as the story goes on. Another option, have students create a daily “tweet” to summarize what they read. It’s a challenge to do it in 140 characters or less!
Scene Setter: Comic Life or ReadWriteThink: Comic Creator to illustrate the impact of the setting on the character or action.
CC Connection: Literature Circles address all of the CCSS anchor standards in reading. Students not only analyze the structure of the story they are reading, but delve deeper into the complexity of the text. Lit circles also integrates 21st century skills of collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.