Monday, April 7, 2014

Literature Circles by Student Choice of Genre

We spent the last two week surveying the different fiction genres. The week before last they read three different stories from different genres.  For each genre, they completed one of Jen Runde's Genre Posters.  They worked out perfectly.

Last week for some variety, I put them in three groups.  Each group read one genre.  Then, they had to complete a project to teach us about the genre they read.  Two groups wrote skits they performed and one group made a short movie.  They presented their projects on Friday.

 Then, they had to vote for their top 3 preferences of genre to read.  I had explained that we would be doing a round of book clubs/literature circles based on genre.  I chose our books based on their votes.  Everyone had either Science Fiction or Fantasy as their first or second choice.

So, I chose a Science Fiction novel and a Fantasy novel.  The Science Fiction group is reading A Wrinkle in Time and the Fantasy group is reading Gregor the Overlander.

Today we started our novels.  I handed a blank calendar template out to each group with their novel.  They had to decide as a group how much they would read each day.  They had four weeks to read the week.  One group chose to read the book in three weeks, and the other decided they wanted to finish the book in a week. By giving them a calendar and making them decide, it holds them accountable and motivates them to read.  We will be doing some different writing assignments as we read. I am going to have them focus on writing and citing text, as opposed to just answering comprehension questions.

How do you organize literature circles in your classroom?

Now to catch you up on what I have been reading:

This week I finished:

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

This book is a really interesting story that is paired with photographs throughout.  The idea of a phototext - a fictional story with photographs - is something that really intrigues me and I would like to research more as a graduate student. The story is about a teenage boy that always thought his grandfather was crazy because he talked about his childhood spent with these peculiar children with special gifts.  If you look at the cover of the book and the photographs, the book almost seems like it will be creepy.  But it actually is really just a Fantasy story.  The photographs add a whole other layer though that tell their own story. This would be a fabulous story to do with a study involving graphic novels, where you could discuss what are the elements of a visual narrative. I am looking forward to starting the next book in the series.

The Madman's Daughter

This book was inspired by HG Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau.  It is from the point of view of Moreau's daughter.  This was a really interesting story.  It definitely could be used for a discussion of ethics.

Grave Mercy

This book takes place in Brittany, a sub-region of France, that was once its own country during the 15th century.  It is about a girl that is supposedly sired by death and gets sent to a convent to train to be an assassin.  The book sounds dark, but was actually more about royal political intrigue. I didn't realize that when the Catholic church went into the Celtic areas that they adopted a lot of the pagan gods as saints to pacify and convert the Celtic groups. Most of the people and details in this book are based on real people, but the main character that is trained as an assassin was fictional.  It was a really interesting story, and I look forward to reading the second book.  Historical Fiction will always be my favorite!  Now, I want to go research more about France, England, and the Celtic regions. From Wikipedia, I learned Brittany was sometimes referred to as little Britain (as opposed to Great Britain), hence now I know the significance of the term Great Britain.

What have you been reading?

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