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Monday, June 29, 2015

Reciprocal Teaching at Work: Literature Circles

Today is my last post about Reciprocal Teaching at Work K-12 by Lori Oczkus. As I mentioned in my first post, this book had been on my reading list since last fall when I heard Lori speak at a regional meeting of the International Reading Association. What really caught my attention is that amount of reading growth that is consistently being seen through the use of reciprocal teaching. Today's chapter was probably the most important for me because it deals with using reciprocal teaching with literature circles or book clubs. Now that I am getting my head around teaching fifth grade, I know literature circles are going to be important. 

So how does this work in literature circles? Each student takes on a role - predictor, questioner, summarizer and clarifier. But the author also suggests adding α discussion director who takes on the job of involving the students in other important reading strategies such as making connections and visualizing. We know discussion is key to understanding and with reciprocal teaching and literature circles combined, the students are in charge of this discussion.

The goals of reciprocal teaching during literature circles include:
  • Deepening comprehension
  • Practicing the strategies
  • Release of responsibility to the students
  • Guiding students in becoming more metacognitive and independent
So how do you get started? This is such an important question since using literature circles will be completely new for me. My plan is to start with whole-class lessons that model the strategies. Then I'm going to move into using a short and easy-to-read novel that we can use to practice the strategies and roles as a class before we move to literature circles. This book has a lot of lessons that can help with this. Two strategies that I think I'm going to try are the fishbowl and the jigsaw.

Another issue that I know I need to consider, although it's not unique to using reciprocal teaching, is how to address the social skills needed for successful group work. Since I'm so used to first grade I right away start thinking about how to teach my students to wait their turn or to respond to others. I hope, really hope, that by the time they get to fifth grade they are better at this than first graders. I plan to try to be patient and see how it goes. But I marked the page where the author helps with what to do with difficult groups just in case I need it. 

The chapters are easy to read, but there is so much more inside this book. It has lessons, reproducibles, posters, so much to help you.  And my favorite two things:
1. You don't need to carve out more time, you can do this in your already existing schedule with your already existing reading material.
2. It's research based with proven results. You can't go wrong with that combo!

Click to go to Amazon. 

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