Literature Circles: Voice & Choice in Book Clubs & Reading Groups by Harvey Daniels
Here's what I'm reading right now...
Decided that, as part of a low-level senior elective course that I will be piloting next year, I would like to include the use of literature circles. Based on Kelly Gallagher's references in Readicide, this seemed like a very good selection to begin with.
Updates to follow...
I like the idea of inviting community members and other teachers to be a part of the literature circles/book clubs. It would definitely show students that reading can become a life-long activity, not just something that you give up after you finish high school or college. I like that it would provide real world examples of life-long readers. I think that a potential problem would be finding volunteers; teachers aren't going to give up their one free hour to join a book club, and I could see getting approval for community members becoming a huge hassle. Also, students might not be comfortable having their parents, aunts/uncles, neighbors, etc. involved in their classroom discussions. Not sure if this involvement would help or hinder student performance. All of the information provided in the book seems wonderful, but I'm concerned about implementation.
Totally Quotable #1:
"Let's face it. Sometimes, the book projects that follow literature circles are not natural, relevant, or energizing activities. Instead, they are something we teachers assign just to evoke a tangible product, something that can be graded. We may not know how to evaluate something as slippery and subjective as a lie book discussion, but we can sure as heck slap a grade on a project. Been there, marked that!" (p. 90)
So, the question here is what projects work? Obviously, it would be a dream come true if we as teachers could get into the minds of our students and simply evaluate their thought processes, or to grade their discussions, but it's all so subjective. How do I back up a grade on a discussion when questioned by a parent or an administrator? Luckily, the book does offer some suggestions for projects. I suppose the best approach would be to grade a combination of things, including both discussion participation and tangible projects.
Jessica Pilgreen is a high school English teacher, a Piasa Bluffs Writing Project fellow, and a technology enthusiast. The main purpose of this blog is to help her keep track of all of the fabulous tools out there that she has encountered, but if she can help a few others along the way, that's good, too.