The #1 Lesson Evaluated This Year Used a Literature Circle

This Lesson Blended Social Media with Lit Circles

Try using social media in lessons. Justin Lewis Stone/Getty Images

The best lesson I witnessed this year came from a first-year teacher in a middle school English Language Arts classroom. She was trying out the strategy of literature circles for the first time in a 7th grade using a young adult historical novel.

What made this literature circle lesson so effective was the new teacher's integration of social media templates in each of the roles. While the students did not access social media technology during the class, they were familiar enough with the design of each platform to try and apply the format to the novel they were reading in small groups.

The social media platforms are familiar to students who can transfer the strategies of each and apply them to the more established roles (Summarizer, Connector, Researcher, Illustrator, Discussion Director) in literature circles.

In his book Literature Circles Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups​, Harvey Daniels' definition: "Literature circles are small, temporary discussion groups who have chosen to read the same story, poem, article, or book...each member prepares to take specific responsibilities in the upcoming discussion, and everyone comes to the group with the notes needed to help perform that job" (8).

The literature circle is already good strategy to use to encourage collaboration and communication in the classroom, and like all new teachers, this teacher received training and was encouraged to use this format.

In this top rated #1  lesson, the student in the role of Discussion Director communicated to members of the group by "texting" short messages on post-it notes.

The role of the Summarizer was reinvented and that student was responsible for summaries using the 140 characters and hashtags found on a Twitter template. The role of the Connector was reconfigured, and that student had to demonstrated connections using a blank Facebook template. The role of the Researcher meant that student used a  Pinterest template to find websites that were relevant, timely, and reliable.

Finally, the student charged with the role of the Illustrator was given an  Instagram template to complete.  

During the 30 minute lesson, the templates, the designed mashup of social networking, along with the format of the literature circle promoted literacy for students as social beings making connections. The inclusion of social media platforms in literature circles allows students the opportunity to explore literature through multiple lenses as diverse as the platforms themselves. In addition, giving students the choice of different social media as tools to reimagine and evaluate literature showed that this teacher valued the ways that her students communicate.

Writing about reading on social media platforms or using social media templates does require many of the skills that educators want students to develop: analyzing, summarizing, researching, and making text to text connections.  

Moreover, the use of social media platforms allowed this teacher  to implement three core instructional practices, highlighted by the National Writing Project in the post "New Report Finds That Writing Can Be Powerful Driver for Improving Reading Skills". The report released in April 2010 by Carnegie Corporation of New York called for, "writing to complement reading instruction because each type of practice supports and strengthens the other." 

The following strategies have been shown to be effective in improving student reading:

  • Have students write about the texts they read.
  • Teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text.
  • Increase how much students write.

Social media formats differ and teachers can teach specific writing skills and processes required in multi-genre writing that is seen in social media. In addition, student interest in social media as authentic communication increases engagement and their volume of writing.

Watching this lesson, I was struck by how quickly this first year teacher figured this out!

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Bennett, Colette. "The #1 Lesson Evaluated This Year Used a Literature Circle." ThoughtCo, Feb. 21, 2017, thoughtco.com/best-lesson-evaluated-used-a-literature-circle-8032. Bennett, Colette. (2017, February 21). The #1 Lesson Evaluated This Year Used a Literature Circle. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-lesson-evaluated-used-a-literature-circle-8032 Bennett, Colette. "The #1 Lesson Evaluated This Year Used a Literature Circle." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-lesson-evaluated-used-a-literature-circle-8032 (accessed November 22, 2017).