Friday, January 30, 2009

A New Horizon of Investigation, Scholarship, & Sophistication

“I imagine good teaching as a circle of earnest people sitting down to ask each other meaningful questions.
I don’t see it as a handing down of answers.”
Alice Walker

“If reading is about mind JOURNEYS,
teaching reading is about outfitting the travelers, modeling how to use the map, demonstrating how to use the key and legend
until, ultimately, it’s the child and the map together and they are off on their own.”

“Mind Journeys,” Mosaic of Thought, Susan Zimmermann and Ellin Oliver Keene, p. 28” [Emphases mine]

Literature Circle Frames & Think Like a Disciplinarian Circles provide an intellectual, rigorous, and authentic pathway into and through literature. Each role utilized provides students interaction with stories in ways that will bring thoughtful and meaningful engagement as well as literary scholarship and sophistication. Every discussion or seminar provides students opportunities to collaborate and develop sophistication beyond a superficial, contrived response.

Enjoy your journey...more importantly, bring your experiences to the classroom!

[Chung's Lit Circles Google Webpage]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Circles=Frames? Depth & Complexity in Lit Circles

“The concept of diversity describes differences between learners who are typical and those who are atypical in terms of culture, socioeconomic conditions, and learning characteristics. The increasing diversity of learners in our classrooms demands differentiated response for atypical learners."
Susan Winebrenner, “How Differentiation Techniques Benefit All Students.”
Orange County Council for Gifted and Talented Education, 31st Annual Conference, 

U.C. Irvine
Using Literature Circle ROLES integrated into FRAMES, successful, scholarly “literary experiences” can be achieved. Intellectually rigorous, standards relevant, and flexible to student learning levels, LIT. CIRCLES WITH FRAMES allow teachers to provide concrete pathways for students to actively engage in the literacy tasks needed for reading comprehension, analysis, and creative expressions.

The Original: Traditional Literature Circles

“Recognizing that reading and writing are social acts challenges us to reevaluate the social contexts of our classrooms.
Too often competition and individualism in schools precludes students’ interactions.
Literature circles, however, encourage cooperation and respect for diverse interpretations. Students learn classmates’ strengths and children become
valuable resources for each other.”

Sarah Owens. “Treasures in the Attic: Building the Foundation for Literature Circles.”


Literature Circles…
  • are Book Clubs
  • focus on literature (text), responses (roles), and discussion (presentation, reflection)
  • “are structured reading activities that allow high-ordered thinking, reflection, and discussion” [San Diego County Office of Education, Language Arts 2000 Cadre]
  • Four basic roles that provide cognitive pathways to a text: discussion director, literary luminary, connector, illustrator
  • Allow “natural,” in-depth dialogue about books

Essential Characteristics/Attributes

[based on Harvey Daniels]
  • Small, temporary groups formed by choice of book or story.
  • Part of a balanced literacy program.
  • Structured for student independence, responsibility, and ownership
  • Flexible & fluid
  • Reader-Response Centered
  • Guided primarily by student insights and questions
  • Intended as a context in which to apply reading and writing skills
  • Groups meet on a regular, predictable schedule to discuss their reading
  • In newly-forming groups, students may play a rotating assortment of task roles
  • The teacher serves as a facilitator, not a group member or instructor
  • Evaluation is by teacher observation and student self-evaluation

  • Basic Lit. Circle Model for Fiction (Harvey Daniels)
  • Modified Lit. Circles (Shlick, Noe, Johnson)
  • Structured Lit. Circles (Packets, Generic)
  • Nonfiction Lit. Circles
  • Book Clubs (Oprah Winfrey)
Literature Circles are NOT…
  • About sheets/handouts
  • Teacher & Text Centered
  • The entire reading curriculum
  • Teacher-assigned groups formed solely by ability
  • Unstructured, uncontrolled “talk time” without accountability
  • Guided primarily by teacher- or curriculum-based questions
  • Intended as a place to do skill work

Literature Circles work because…
  • Students choose and talk about books based on their needs and interests
  • Conversations about books “deepens our understanding about them” [SDCOE]
  • It meets the needs of a diverse student population
  • Interests, comprehension, and interpretation are deepened and are meaningful via elements of depth and complexity
In other words, Literature Circle Frames provide a practical yet rigorous structure for students to actively engage in literature. Frames provide a mental map for utilizing the elements of depth or complexity, content imperatives, and thinking skills.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How or What to Think? No more "IDK"!



"The aim of education should be to teach us rather HOW to think, than what to think--rather to IMPROVE our minds, so as to ENABLE us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men."
Bill Beattie
[Emphases Mine]
Go beyond reading comprehension and worksheets: analyze and interpret literature at another level of sophistication!
Starting with four academic disciplinary approaches, Think Like A...
...integrated with literary skills and tasks from Literature Circles, students can engage with literature in multifaceted ways.
What is "Think Like A Disciplinarian"?
Think Like A Disciplinarian
  • "roles" of the academic disciplines
  • challenges gifted students to “explore the advanced & sophisticated complex concepts in the disciplines by assuming the role of different disciplinarians.” [Sandra Kaplan, Ed.D., University of Southern California]

What are the factors influencing, contributing to the event, character, setting, and/or author's style?
      • social
      • economic
      • political
      • historical
      • geographic
      • religious

Using any one of the four roles noted below with the tasks found in Literature Circle ROLES, students will complete an investigation based on a character, setting, event [plot], or the author's style. [For PDF downloads, click here for my Google Page]

Using any one of the four roles noted below with the tasks found in Literature Circle ROLES, students will complete an investigation based on a character, setting, event [plot], or the author's style. [For PDF downloads, click here for my Google Page]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Promethean's ActivInspire

Literature Circles using an ActivInspire flipchart and Student Response systems.