Week six is upon us and the term seems to be slipping away as we head towards the end of the year.
This week I have a very special treat! We have a guest post from Justine Hughes. I would love your feedback please as I plan to run a regular ‘guest post’ and would be really keen to hear from anyone who is keen to share!
Guest Post by Justine Hughes
LITERATURE CIRCLES – PUTTING THE ‘OOMPH’ BACK INTO READING
A few years ago, when I was teaching at Myross Bush School in Invercargill, our Literature Circles programme that I’d developed came to the attention of Magpies Magazine and they asked me to write an article about what we were doing and why it was so successful. A quote from one of my students became the title of that article and has been the title of most of my presentations on Literature Circles ever since. The most interesting part was that this was a quote from a young man who would rather have done anything than read but the Literature Circles programme changed his thinking.
Why? How could something as simple as reading the same book as others and discussing it in groups change students’ perceptions of reading and turn them into avid readers? It’s all in how it is set up and the philosophy behind it. After around 13 years of running Literature Circles and seeing the evidence in not only the enthusiasm for books and reading, but also in the academic results, I know beyond question that this works, no matter what age or ability. To see students lined up waiting for their bus in the afternoon all engrossed in the latest Literature Circles book is the best reward ever!! By the time I left Myross Bush to move to Auckland, we had all our students involved in the programme – from Year 1 through to Year 6. My Year 7 and 8 students have been just as passionate about it.
I’ve always been concerned at the lack of passion for reading in New Zealand. When you discuss it with the students they do not see reading as a valid hobby where you can lose yourself in another world. They generally tended to see it as something you had to do ‘…because the teacher says we have to.’ They were only seeing it as an in-class activity. I really wanted to change that – probably because I have such a passion for books – poor students didn’t stand a chance!!
I investigated the Literature Circles programme that I knew about which originated in the US. I liked what I saw but was concerned that it was very heavily based on worksheets as part of an instructional programme – my pet hate, and a rant best left for another post! I set about adapting the programme to suit what our needs were in this country. We already have a strong instructional reading programme and I wanted the students to be able to take what they learned, and apply that knowledge in their recreational reading. In other words I wanted them to be able to understand that we learn to read well in our instructional sessions so that we can lose ourselves in these wonderful stories – we can open up a whole new world to our imaginations.
The Literature Circles programme that we run are discussion based - NO worksheets! We now combine this with Twitter to encourage debate and discussion and we have the potential for an exciting environment that builds a life-long passion for reading. We also use our blogs to keep the eLearning focus by having the discussions going anytime, anywhere. Often our family members and others in our wider global community will also join in the discussion.
We’ve also recently started using MyChatPack as a tool for ‘book sells’. This is a tool that my class and I developed.
The best way to see how everything works – and to set it up so that it succeeds will be to check out the links below and email / ring me if you’d like support setting up. If you’re in Auckland, I’m happy to meet with you to support setting up the programme. I’m absolutely passionate about this, as the results don’t lie. If your Literature Circles programme is set up well, and if you are a passionate advocate for all things reading, then you will be guaranteed to have engaged, motivated readers in your classes who can’t wait to finish their current book and read the next one – even your non-readers at the moment.
Henderson Literature Circles Blog
This is not as up-to-date as it would normally be as I have been on leave since August. It has some great resources on it, including how to set up the Literature Circles programme in your classroom / school. It had got to the stage where the students were the ones who were in charge of the weekly discussions and blog posts – always my goal for our shared teaching and learning philosophy.
Click here for the main page and here for the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to set up the programme.
These are based on the New Zealand Curriculum, Literacy Learning Progressions and the work of Gerald Duffy, these were developed by the University of Otago College of Education and shared with our school during our professional learning in LPDP (Literacy Professional Development Programme). Please feel free to use these to support both your classroom teaching and learning programme as well as the Literature Circles programme. Click here for this resource. Included are the Strategies, Learning Intentions, Success Criteria and Teacher Prompts.
This was an online global conference that ran from October 18 – 19 this year. If you would like to hear the recording – there were some great questions asked too, please click here.
The presentation for Library 2.013 can be found here. It has a lot of other links and resources – particularly for involving my passion for eLearning.
A HUGE thank you to Justine for her post!
Are you a member of the Literacy Online group in the vln? This group is for teachers who have an interest in sharing ideas, resources and issues related to developing teaching and learning programmes based on the literacy needs of their learners. A wonderful new addition is the widget which links latest literacy discussions from across the vln and a ‘video to inspire’ widget. Check out the reading, writing, and oral language, sites.
Thanks to Hazel Owen for sharing a link online I have discovered a whole range of clips created by Oxford School. These all appear to have been created two years ago, but what an incredibly rich resource. They tick all the boxes for me, short, succinct, realistic, resourced and rewindable. What a wonderful resource bank to flick through. I will highlight a few here:
Did any of you experiment with wordsift ? I think it could be a very powerful tool to share with learners. Have you shared wordle or tagxedo with your learners? These are very powerful to grab a word cloud of our writing. If we allow high frequency words these are powerful tools for our learners to work with to decrease their use of ‘and’ ‘then’ ‘because’ and move to challenge ourselves to include a greater range of vocabulary in our written work.