Logo Top Banner
slogan Alaska Timeline Alaska Kids About
Peer Work
Family & Community
History & Culture
Digital Archives
Narrative & Healing
Reading & Writing
Libraries & Booksellers
Teaching & Learning
Reading Workbooks

Multiple Skill Levels

Elementary School

Middle School

High School

Writing Workbooks

Two Old Women

Difficult Dialogues

Ordinary Wolves

Shopping for Porcupine

UAA and APU Books of the Year

Educators' Perspectives

Contact Us

Search Peer Work Only
Sign up for newsletter
Find us on Facebook

Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Reading Workbooks  >  Middle School
Literature Circles
By Janet Lopez Page 1 of 9   Next ยป

A Literature Circle is a structure for getting students to talk about a novel with their peers as they read it together. Students are in charge of the discussion and the decision of how many pages will be read before the next discussion. There are between four to six students in each literature circle, and each member rotates one of the following jobs throughout the project: Discussion Director, Literary Luminary, Character Captain, Connector, Artistic Adventurer, and Vocabulary Enricher. The students really love the approach because they are empowered with so much choice and get to "run" the show.


Janet Lopez


1. I divide the class into groups of four to six students, and begin by letting the students choose which novel their circle is going to read. I describe each novel the students are to choose from, and then pass out a selection sheet, having students rank their choices based on their abilities and their interests.

2. I have students assign roles within their group for each discussion date. First, I explain what each role consists of, while passing out the Director's Log and one packet of Group Role Sheets for each circle. I explain that each student will have the chance to take on every role. I have the students fill out the Director's Log. I also hand out my Scoring Guidelines so students know how they will be evaluated.

3. I pick a day when the whole novel has to be read, and then leave it up to each circle to assign specific sections to read before their discussion sessions.

Literature Circles

4. I have students meet in their Literature Circles for discussion twice a week. Each student, depending on his or her role in the group, has a different task to complete beforehand, in order to prepare for the circle discussion. Each assignment is explained on the Group Role Sheets, and also overviewed on the Role Description handout.

Special Note: Under the inclusion model, I work with special education students as well as traditional and gifted and talented students all at the same time. When I teach Literature Circles, I have the special education students listen to an audio tape of the book. I pass out the response sheets Low Auditory Learners to them after they listen to a segment of story, having them complete the packet in sections.



I. First, I have my students fill out their Journals, quickly summarizing what they read in preparation for their discussion group, reacting to the reading, and making a prediction of what they think will happen next in the novel.

2. Once in their Literature Circles, students present the material they have prepared for class, following the assignments in the Group Role Sheets. At the end of the discussion time, students evaluate their discussion for that day, noting their evaluation on the Attendance Evaluation Form. If the discussion did not go as planned, students will discuss why, and offer solutions for ensuring their next discussion goes more smoothly. Students then assign roles to each member for the next discussion group, and also decide how much of the novel they will read before their next discussion.

3. After their discussion, they come back to their journals to reflect on how the discussion changed their way of looking at the novel as well as to evaluate their performance in the circle that day. At the end of class, each student hands in their journal and completed role assignment from the Group Role Sheets. These contribute to each student's final grade.

Literature Circles Handouts:

Selection Sheet
Director's Log
Group Role Sheets
Scoring Guidelines
Role Description
Low Auditory Learners Packet
Attendance Evaluation Form

About the Author: Janet Lopez has taught middle school in Juneau for six years. She currently teaches Language Arts and Social Studies at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School.
Next page:   Literature Circles Novel Selection Pages:  1 2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 

  Contact Us       LitSite Alaska, Copyright © 2000 - 2017. All rights reserved. University of Alaska Anchorage.
University of Alaska Anchorage