Workshop #3 Starting Classroom Conversations
The support materials related to this workshop are plentiful. When I started the literature circles in my own classroom, I asked the children to help me create a list of behaviors they deem acceptable to having this special activity in our classroom. Well, it was posted and due to the shortage of time, it is rarely referred to. One group adheres to the norms of literature circles. They are the top readers in my class. Initially, they did not understand why they could not read at their own pace but now I can trust them to stay on the assigned chapter, come prepared with the role activity worksheet and at share these while listening to one another before moving on to their next assignment. Within this group however, I had to pull a child out of the activity because he
was never prepared, was unfocused and generally disruptive during the meeting time. He sat out throughout the entire reading of one book. Now that I am conducting the read aloud for his group, his behavior has improved. To control this behavior next time, I will use the debriefing activity and a modified Discussion Etiquette Checklist suggested in the video.
The other two English groups have had a variety of problems. In an attempt to have all students read the same literature, I provided a small selection of books to circulate among the class. However, I have had to modify the types of books to match the groups reading abilities. When I noticed that most of the group had great difficulty reading the BFG by Roald Dahl, I asked the students if they wanted to continue with the book and they unanimously decided no.
This year, I have a large number of students with reading ability who have studied English for less than one full school year. Therefore, I decided to give them the same literature circle experience using Spanish texts. I translated the role activity sheets for their benefit. This group thorough enjoys participating in literature circles. Depending on the school of thought one favors, I am performing either a service or an injustice to them. I chose to provide them with Spanish books because literature circles are mainly an independent activity, and therefore should be at the studentís level. Since, so many are severely limited in their ability to communicate their ideas effectively in their native language, having them attempt literature circles in English would be
futile. As a group, we have read over 150 books in literature circles and independent projects. I am very proud of this accomplishment.