Literature Circles are an example of student-centered approaches that require collaboration. Instead of the teacher being primary instructor and director of students' literary experiecences, understanding, and interpretation, these elements of literacy are explored in a group setting where members have a specific role and duty.
There are many ways to conduct literature circles in a reading classroom, but a perhaps founding example of student roles in literature circles may be:
1. Discussion Director: The Discussion Director forms sets of discussion questions they have developed from the text. They then facilitate a discussion of the reading with their group.
2. Commentator (Also called "Literary Luminary"): The Commentator chooses sections of the text to read aloud or have other group members read aloud. These might be parts of the reading that are particularly funny, scary, sad, or interesting to the Commentator.
3. Illustrator: The Illustrator creates a drawing, picture, poster, collage, etc. of the reading passage.
4. Connector (Can also be an "Investigator"): The Connector finds ideas/content in the reading to connect to things in the real world--other books, movies, or television shows, or provides historical context for a piece of reading.
5. Summarizer: The Summarizer prepares a summary of the reading passage.
6. Travel Tracer: The Travel Tracer creates an inventory of different settings and locations from the text, highlighting important pieces of action and where they take place.
7. Vocabulary Enricher (Also called "Word Detective"): The Vocabulary Enricher prepares a list of new or difficult words from the reading, and explains their meaning to the group, or can assign words to others in the group to find and define.
8. Figurative Language Finder: This student will focus on literary devices--idiom, simile, metaphor, imagery, etc.--found in the text and can take a more analytical/philosophical role in interpreting the reading.
This is not to say that Litearture Circle groups have to be formed in groups of eight. Student roles can easily be combined or re-focused to flexibly fit the classroom a teacher is working with. For example, the roles of Illustrator and Travel Tracer can be combined to produce a piece of artwork that represents important settings in the story. A Discussion Director can also assume the duties of Connector/Investigator, or FIgurative Language Finder.
Implmenting Literature Circles in a classroom places the teacher in the role of facilitator, guiding students through the process of selecting and understanding their roles and modeling examples of what each role might focus on. This gives students the freedom to interpret and understand texts in ways that make sense to them, and also share their ideas and skills within their group. Guiding students to a rotational practice in Literature Circle Roles encourages them to explore pieces of reading from different angles, always coming back to the group setting to discuss and share their work. After a few rounds or chapters of practice, many teachers find that collaboration naturally takes place, and individual work within the circles can be combined and synthesized to feed a final group project on the piece of reading, or lead individual students to their own final reports for assessment.
Five Roles in Literature Circles. [Video File] Retrieved from: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/literature-circles.
Elliot, Pat & Mays, Dale. 2001. Litearature Circles.Retrieved from:http://edselect.com/Docs/Litcir.pdf
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