Literature – Teaching

The fundamental purpose of literature circles is that small groups of students are provided with the opportunity to verbally share ideas, reactions and problems pertaining to common text. Some of these literature circles can be highly successful and at times can operate effectively without the presence of a teacher. In literature circles and book clubs, if there are no teachers to guide the students, often the students’ roles change. A strong person in these group discussions not only lead the group but also guide other students. Students’ roles in discussions impact their learning process gravely and hence, their participation in these groups facilitates the expression one’s own ideas, views and understanding of literature (Fisk 2006).

Many student-led discussion groups like book clubs engage in an hour long reading and writing, however, in literature circles students are usually lead by the classroom teacher while students discuss the book. Students do their writing and reading at home as literature circles are often not one hour long. These circles are organized around a central question or issue pertaining to the literature text or can also be an expression medium of free-flowing ideas which simply comprise of student reactions to the reading material. Often literature circles may require groups to respond in writing to avail them the chance to gather their ideas (Daniels & Steineke 2004).

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Literature circles and book clubs often tend to follow an Initiate-Respond-Evaluate pattern during teacher student interactions. Despite the basic purpose behind literature circles and book clubs to facilitate student’s expression capabilities and an exchange of ideas, in traditional classroom discussions the teachers initiates a discussion, upon which the students raise their hands and respond to the discussion while the teacher evaluates the student’s answer. Meanwhile there has been genuine exchange of ideas across the classroom. Accordingly, a disadvantage of literature circles is even though students express their own ideas, during most of the discussion they read from their personal logs. In contrast, in book clubs students engage in discussions of ideas that they at that time come up with after reading ( Daniels 2002) .

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