Last year I tried using virtual literature circles with some success; this year, with my Grade 12 University level students, I’m returning to face-to-face versions of the same as the foundation for our study of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.
I wondered before we started if this might be a bit… ordinary for the students, but so far we’ve all been enjoying and learning from the format. I’ve assigned student groups and asked them to organize their schedule so that each person performs each of the literature circle roles twice over the few weeks of our novel study. For each day’s reading, roles include:
- Facilitator – keep the discussion on track and bring three discussion questions
- Storyteller – summarize the plot
- Investigator – look up background information
- Illustrator – create an image representing a passage or theme
- Connector – make connections between the reading and other parts of the text, other texts, personal experience, and the world.
- Curator – find three significant quotes
Over the first week, discussions have been interesting, lively, and are spilling into our online discussions on the class blog. However, doubting that this format could be sustained for the duration of a novel as dense as The Fountainhead, I’ve been bringing ‘surprises’ to the room every few days including observations, debates, readings, and blogging days in the lab. These surprises keep the literature circles fresh… so far.
Photo by Rodrigo Paoletti