Using literature circles to explore personal responses to the story.
Lesson length: 1 session
Lesson from The White Fox series
Required reading: Whole book
- Literature Circle
- Discussion and Dialogue
Readers thrive in an environment that encourages them to interact with others because knowledge is built in social contexts (Mercer and others). Scaffolded opportunities for discussion allow readers to develop their 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 discussions. They are usually child-led, especially after the teacher has modelled the process.
- Copies of Let’s Think About It, one per child
- Copies of the Asking Questions table
- Copies of The White Fox, preferably one per child.
- Sticky notes or strips of paper
Organise the children into groups of between four and six. These can be self-selected or selected for pedagogical purposes.
Distribute copies of the Let’s Think About It resource. If the children are unfamiliar with the format, explain that it is a way of recording your response to a book. They should write notes for each section.
Teacher’s Note – if you complete the Making Connections lesson, the children will not need to fill in the connections section. 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 in silence.
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 puzzles section and give time for discussion about these.
The final section to think about is the questions. The children collaboratively write their questions onto sticky notes or strips of paper. Distribute copies of the question organiser 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 are 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.
- 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?
Use this organiser to sort questions into those that only have one answer and those that have potentially more than one answer.