Saturday, February 22, 2014

Handing Over the Reins

Several weeks ago, I blogged about the magic of lit circles and how motivating this strategy can be for middle school readers. To stay faithful to the lit circle model, my students have selected their own books for our next round of lit circles.  With the help of my school librarian, my students learned about six different books from which to choose. Students filled out a Google form with their book preference, and then I was able to sort my trusty spreadsheet to create the lit circle groups.

Because the books were student-selected, I decided that the students also needed to pace out the reading for themselves. We need to hand over the reins to the kids in our classrooms more often anyway, and I figured this was a perfect opportunity for students to practice their self-directed learning skills. I provided a pacing calendar with designated lit circle meeting days, but my students had to work together in their groups to reach a consensus on their pacing schedule. The activity of going through a book and pacing out the reading was, by far, the BEST problem-solving and team-building activity for kids that I have ever witnessed!

Here is a short video of a group of students discussing how much they planned to read in between lit circle meetings:

Here is a link to the document that the students were all using to pace out their reading between each lit circle. (I used Doctopus to share the pacing calendar with each group.)

I love the ownership that this experience has given the students. After they finished pacing, the students also began a group blog to post their reflections and lit circle jobs instead of using a folder with paper handouts. Students are eager to get started and I am equally as excited to watch the process!

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