Making Curriculum Pop

Does anyone have any suggestions for how to do a lit circle (I'm calling mine Book Clubs) without using the traditional roles? I have found them quite limiting in the past and actually find that they kill conversation rather than inspiring it. Any ideas?

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I agree. I am about to use this method for the first time, but I find a lot of the traditional "roles" to be quite uninspiring and phony. I want mine to feel more book club-ish. I'm thinking about creating some basic discussion questions to start each group and then asking them to come up with questions as they read. I'd like for the questions they create to relate back to themselves more than the book (like, how would you feel if...).

I'd also like for students to design their own assessments. I don't know how this will work, but I think it's going to be important for students to have a voice in their learning.

I'll look forward to seeing what others have to say!
I think the "design your own role" that Hattie suggests is a cool idea. That being said I find that all roles and structures feel artificial unless you commit to them and use them A LOT. I find the models are essential because they are the training wheels so you can get to the place Hattie suggests - "OK, now you create the roles students!"

In fact, the discussion roles PDF if another example of something that makes students giggle and feel uncomfortable at first but after you use it for a month you have the most incredible discussions because they've played with models.

I have had a ton of success with the Lit Circle roles my mom and I developed even at the graduate teaching level. If you haven't taken a gander at this link/PDF check it out and let me know if these paint some new lit circle possibilities.
I am toying with the idea of using your Discussion Moves as conversation starters. I think this focused but not too artificial way of structuring the conversation might work.
I call my groups book clubs, as well. Students read together and the reader does a Say Something (Kylene Beers, When Kids Can't Read: What Teachers Can Do) I change the the group focus depending on what that particular group needs to practice. It can be anything from summarizing to visualizing to clarifying. The discussion is more authentic.
I have been creating wiki space publishing for a lit circle type activity. My most recent is for A Seperate Peace with a boys only class. The roles include History Enricher, Character Blog ( where you respond to the chapter as one of the characters other than the other to show an understanding of character, persepective, and voice), Lingering Questions ( as opposed to discussion leader as it seems to suggest a power role versus a thinking deeper perspective) , literary devices ( okay, that one is old school) and Visual interpreter which allows the student to find an image or create one that captures the essence of the chapter, focuses on theme, or just an image that stayed with the reader. I did something similiar with the girls with Secret Life of Bees and they all were very engaged. Ultimately, it was also a study guide they used. The quality of writing and insight really stepped up when they realized they had a larger audience. The beauty of the whole thing was that their discussion became student driven.



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