July 27, 2021

Literature Circles: Holding Student Led Discussions

If students are new to literature circles or if you want students to be able to run their own discussions, a highly structured format is a must.

You've decided on the books and how to group students, but now you will have to decide how you'd like to structure the discussions those groups will have. I am not a fan of using assigned roles during literature circles because I find it can lead to superficial engagement with the text. Student can hyper focus on fulfilling their role of writing a summary, defining unknown words, etc. and then don’t have much else to contribute to the discussion. I’ve run literature circle discussions in two different ways and have found success with both.

Literature Circles: Grouping Students & Holding The First Meeting

Create literature circle discussion groups, in which students will feel comfortable sharing and build excitement with their first group meeting.

Group dynamics are important during literature circles. If you want to get beyond surface level responses, students must be comfortable with you and other students. Your classroom must be an environment where they feel comfortable sharing and not be concerned with what constitutes the "right" thing to say. In addition to selecting texts and having students preview them, before getting into literature circles you will need to make sure students are ready for a departure from a typical novel study.