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    What a great teaching assignment. . .
    By litprof

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    So many wonderful books to read! One way to get mileage out of Lit Circles and guided reading is to do them in separate cycles. For example, I would have lit circles for 2 weeks and then switch back to Readers' Workshop for the next part of the cycle. During RW, I would have my guided reading. Another option is to do reading conferences to teach some skills one-on-one.

    I would not do Lit Circles at the same time for this reason. During discussion times, I walk around with a clipboard and "kidwatch". At the groups' share time at the conclusion of the discussions, I would share my observations from the "kidwatching". (I share all positive remarks. . ."I heard this group say. . .I noticed that. . .I heard this question asked".)

    At the beginning of the year, I would introduce/model/practice with Lit Circles. I would do a lot of class work. Some examples of modeling. . .how do you ask higher level thinking questions. . .how will the discussion flow around the group. . .how do you agree with someone. . .how do you politely and respectfully disagree. . .how do you wrap up the discussion for the day?

    For our discussion groups, the individual jobs are starter (asks the first question), recorder (puts a + sign by the name of each person as he answers and stays focused with the group or a -if that student gets off track), checker (makes sure each student has book and questions for the day), and reporter (reports to the class a summary of the discussion for the day). I do not use the traditional Harvey Daniels style job assignments.

    The students do their reading at night and come in with the designated number of higher level thinking questions for the next day's discussion. Presiously, we have spent several class sessions in learning how to create great discussion questions. Also, the class reads the same book.

    Our classes have had great success with Lit Circles. . .most days, the kids will beg for longer discussion times. We will do a book celebration at the end of the book. . .something related in an authentic way to the book. For example, after reading The Westing Game, each person came dressed as one of the characters. I played a TV interviewer as we taped the intervew show.

    I have started off Lit Circles in Grade 5 with some easy modeling with The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg. . .this is a picture book, but you can model easily. Also, The Stranger by the same author gets the discussion juices going. Then, we have moved onto either Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner or Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Do a lot of modeling, "fish bowl" (the kids watch you and another/few students go through the discussion).

    Teaching 5th grade LArts is so exciting! The books for Lit Circles and Guided Reading are boundless. You will love it!

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