Literature Circle Discussions – SOLSC Day #16

This is my favorite time of the school year for literature circles (some call them book club meetings).  Over the course of the last seven months, each student has learned the various roles that she/he will take when discussing the specific novel that they are reading with a small group of friends.  They are still sixth graders, so they need some type of close reading activity to guide them through the assigned reading.

Current literature circle books: All of the books are written by Kate Messner – All the Answers, Wake Up Missing, Eye of the Storm, Capture the Flag, The Seventh Wish, and Breakout

Current close reading bookmark: The bookmark that the students are utilizing during the reading asks them to define difficult vocabulary words, confusing parts in the story, important quotes, predictions for the next reading, connections to their life or current events, and just miscellaneous (or “other things) that they want to discuss with their group.  The bookmark is used as a guide while they are talking about the book.  One of the interesting things that I have found with the bookmark over the last two school years is that the kids will often talk about the bookmark while they are reading the assigned pages before the meeting.  I find this reassuring because they are comparing notes and ideas that they have collected even before they meet with the group.

Tidbits (interesting information) from the discussions: For this specific literature circle, there are seven groups reading six books.  I attempted to keep the groups as small as possible (six students are reading All of the Answers, so it is two groups of three).  There are seven groups and one teacher, me, so you can imagine the difficulty I have getting around to each and every group.  I do make it to every group, but as you can also imagine, I sometimes get stuck with a group (listening to good book conversation, offering assistance about a confusing part).  Here is what I heard in the first meeting:

“Do you guys know that there was a real prison break a few years ago?  My grandpa has a farm up north and he has tons of land.  We were visiting him at the time, and he was afraid the criminals were hiding on his land.  The police came to his house.” (Breakout) Says the student that is very excited about the first sixty pages of the book.  He talked and talked about the book and needed to be reminded that other people need to share.  The interesting fact that his partner’s don’t know is that he has only read about five books from cover to cover in his entire life.  It was difficult to stop him because of his enthusiasm.  He loves the book.

“I would love to see the real flag.  I wonder if it really exists.” (Capture the Flag)  His partner quickly says, “I would want to see it, but I wouldn’t want to get to close.  I wouldn’t want to hurt it.  It’s old.” I proceeded to show them pictures of the American History Museum (from my phone) and discuss with them that the flag is at the museum.  All three of the kids now want to go on a trip to Washington, DC to see the flag.

All of the conversations flowed like this.  I was on one of my “teacher highs” as I moved from group to group.  The most surprising/interesting thing from the first literature circle meeting using the bookmarks was that six groups just piled their bookmarks in the middle of the table and were talking about the book from memory (HALLELUJAH!).  Only, one group, which was also having good conversation, was using the bookmark as a guide.  I am really looking forward to the next literature circle on Wednesday.



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12 thoughts on “Literature Circle Discussions – SOLSC Day #16

  1. Sounds like you have done the prep work to make the talk successful, and most of all, you’ve matched kids with compelling stories. Enjoy the “teacher high.”

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    1. Thank you! The weird thing (or not so weird for a teacher) is that I’m still feeling the “high” this morning. Looking forward to more reading this week.:)

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  2. Books have such power to evoke interest in a topic, which your slice shows. Kaye Messner is a gift and does so much for teachers. Another book set against that prison break is Beth Kephart’s “Wild Blues,” and it is gorgeous, a masterwork in craft.

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  3. Kate Messner book clubs?? Can I come? I love to hear kids talk about books… some of the best conversations for sure!

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