William Shakespeare / During Reading / /

Literature Circle

Exploring personal response to the book.

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from William Shakespeare series

Required reading: Whole book

Strategies used

  • Discussion and Dialogue
  • Book Talk


Readers thrive in an environment that encourages them to interact with others because knowledge is constructed in social contexts (Mercer and others).  Scaffolded opportunities for discussion allows readers to develop their own story schema, as well as learn from the contributions of others.give readers time to refine their interpretations and expand their understandings. 

Literature Circles are one way of organising small group discussion. They are usually child-led, especially after the teacher has modelled the process.


  • Copies of What Do You Think?, one per child.
  • Copies of Shakespeare, one per child if available. 
  • Sticky notes or strips of paper. 
  • Enlarged Question Quadrant. 


Begin the session by giving pairs time to reread Shakespeare, focusing on any parts that they have not yet fully explored. 

Organise the children into groups of between four and six. These can be self-selected or selected for pedagogical purposes. 

Distribute copies of the What Do You Think? resource and Shakespeare.  If the children are not familiar with the format, explain that it is a way of recording your response to a book. They should write notes for each section thinking about the whole book. Give around ten minutes for children to make their notes. They mustn’t share ideas at this stage.

Once everyone has finished (including the teacher) each member of the group takes it in turns to share their responses. Model this with your responses. The rest of the group will listen without making comments. Set the following rules before the groups begin to share: 

  • Each member of the group will have a chance to share their responses. 
  • Don’t interrupt or comment on what is said. Listen attentively. 

Once each group member has shared their responses, open the discussion up by inviting the children to comment on the differences and similarities in their likes and dislikes. Next, focus attention on the connections and then the puzzles section and give time for discussion about these. 

The final section to think about is the questions. Working collaboratively, the children should write their questions on sticky notes or strips of paper. Distribute copies of the Question Quadrant which has two headings: ‘Answer is in the book’ and ‘Answer is not in the book’. They will sort the questions into the two sections. As an extension, use the quadrant with four headings to further classify the questions into those that have more than one answer and those that have one answer. 

Once the questions have been sorted, the group can refer to the book to try and answer them. Gather the class together and list any questions that the children found difficult to answer. These could be taken forward to another session. 

Final reflection

  • How did it feel to listen and not be allowed to make a comment?
  • Did anyone else’s responses surprise you? 
  • Did something another person say make you change your thinking about the book?

Key vocabulary

question, puzzle 


What Do You Think?

What Do You Think_TOB (1)


Sam Keeley

Formerly a teacher and local authority advisory teacher, Sam now works with Just Imagine as an English consultant and manager of the year 6 Reading Gladiators programme.

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