The following are the roles in Literature Circles that provide a thinking task to each group member.
This role involves making a list of questions that the group might discuss about the section of the novel to be discussed for that meeting. Questions should be structured to promote lively conversation and insights about the book; they should be open-ended and should not be “yes/no” questions. A student with this task asks these questions to the group to prompt discussion; overall, the job is to keep the group talking and on-task. Questions that a student might ask could be: “What was going through your mind when you read this passage?” or “How did the main character change as a result of this incident?”
This role includes locating a few important passages of text that are thought-provoking, funny, interesting, disturbing, or powerful. The quotations are copied down with properly cited page numbers. A student with this task can read the passages out loud him/herself or ask other group members to read as well. Commentary and discussion will be generated from these passages.
As the term implies, this job entails drawing, sketching, or painting a picture, portrait or scene relating to the appropriate section of the novel. Collages from magazines, images from the internet, and other media can also be used. The student with this role then shares the artwork with the group, explaining the passage(s) that relate to the art. Usually, students who do not like to write do very well with this role. The pictures usually generate interesting group conversations.
This role involves locating several important passages in the novel and connecting these passages to real life. The connections might relate to school, friends or family, home, the community, or they might relate to movies, celebrities, the media etc. Students should also feel free to connect incidents or characters with other books that they have read. Among all the roles, this role is often the most personal in its focus.
This role comprises preparing a brief summary of the reading that was assigned for that day’s meeting. The summary should include the central ideas or events to remember, major characters, symbols or other significant highlights of the passage. Good summarizers are important to literature circles, as they can help their peers see the overall picture (DaLie, 2001). Also include important events.
Also called the Word Master or Word Wizard, this role is to note important words for that day’s reading. Words that are unusual, unknown, or that stand out in some way are usually chosen by the student. Their page number and definition is also recorded. Usually, students do not see this role as particularly stimulating; however, it can be a role suited to students who are still developing confidence in English classes or textual analysis.
This role involves noting where the major shifts in action or location take place in the novel for the reading section. Keeping track of shifts in place, time, and characters helps students keep track of important shifts in the novel. Artistic students also are drawn to this role, as artwork can be incorporated into this role as well. The student’s role is to describe each setting in detail, using words or maps that present the action.
This role consists of investigative work where background information needs to be found on any topic relating to the book. Historical, geographical, cultural, musical or other information that would help readers connect to the novel is often researched and shared with the group. The research is informal in nature, giving small bits of information in order that others can better understand the novel.
Figurative Language Finder
This role includes identification of numerous types of figurative language, including but not limited to simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, and idiom. This may lead to discussion about the author’s craft – why the author chose to use those particular words or phrases, and whether or not they were effective. This in-context identification can be more relevant and memorable than isolated instruction by the teacher of these types of tools.