Independent Reading Literary Circles

Over fourth quarter we will be undertaking our independent reading. With a choice of four books. We will be doing this in the form of literary circles in which you will be in small groups 3-4 people discussing your findings in your reading.

Please see below for a description of the literary circles. Many thanks to Jennifer Bernhard for materials that she created including "Reading Circle Rubrics", and "What Makes a Good Discussion" . Her originals can be found here.


English 12 Literary Circles

Over the next four weeks, you will be responsible for producing written responses and interacting with your peers about your book.

You will receive grades for 1) your participation 2) and your preparation.

Preparation – Thoughtful written response and prep for your role- 20 Points (each week)

Participation – See rubric below - 10 Points (each week)

Total credit for completed packet and participation each week - 120 Points



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Gail Tsukyama - The Samauri's Garden




Lit Circle Roles

Each member of the group will take a role, and these roles will rotate between group members over our four weeks. Each member should prepare their materials for their role in advance and should be ready to discuss their findings and other people’s work when they meet together.

Discussion Leader/Note-taker - develops thoughtful questions about the author’s ideas and use of literary style that she shares with her group and records the responses of her group.

The Big Picture Keeper – Using episodic notes, this person will organize the week’s reading into the most important events and provide pictures of these.

Word Watcher – Lists words that reoccur or have particular meaning in the novel, records imagery, metaphors/similes, unusual grammar, and other literary devices noticed in the writing.

Connector – Using the graphic organizers this person makes connections to other outside world in advance (art, society, history) and records other group members connections to themselves and the world in discussion.

Written Response

In addition to your particular roles, each member of a literary circle should come with written responses to the following character question. These should be typed and at least one page long.

How are the characters depicted? What do they say, or do that shows who they are? What do others say/do/think about them? What do they think of themselves?



What Makes a Good Discussion?

Empathetic Listening: Give your complete attention to the speakers, showing the students in your group that you value their contributions.

Use positive body language

Make eye contact

Responding to Group Members: Expand on other group members’ ideas by sharing your thoughts and feelings about what they contributed to the conversations.

Clarifying: Ask questions to understand each other’s ideas better.

Tell me more about. . .

What do you mean. . .?

Why do you think. . .?

Sharing ideas and justifying opinions: Share parts of the book that demonstrate the core content that you are addressing and explain why they are important.

Justify your opinions.

I think . . . is a good example of a metaphor because. . .

I wonder if the relationship between these two characters would have changed if they had . . .

I was surprised that the plot changed course because I was expecting . . .

This part reminds me of . . . because . . .

I don’t understand why the author keeps on repeating this word . . .

I like this section of writing because . . .

I noticed. . . because . . .

I wish . . . because . . .

I think this story is really about . . . because . . .

Self-reflection: Consider what has been done well, and make decisions about what needs to be improved. Set goals for the future.

Expert Participant

Brings reading material with passages clearly identified

Brings thoughtful written comments

Contributes significantly to discussion

Keeps the discussion going

Listens and responds thoughtfully

Builds on others’ comments

Makes insightful connections to other readings and/or experiences

Discusses author’s style/literary elements, when appropriate

Active Participant

Brings reading material with passages identified

Brings written comments

Contributes appropriately to discussions

Listens actively and responds adequately

Makes connections to other readings and/or experiences

Discusses author’s style/literary elements (when appropriate)

Willing Learner

Brings reading material

Understands purpose of reading circle

Brings some written notes

Contributes to discussions occasionally or when prompted

Sometimes listens and responds appropriately

Occasionally asks questions

Shares ideas when asked

Reluctant Reader

Not prepared for discussion

Forgets written comments or reading material

Conversation off-task

Seldom listens

Rarely responds to group

Reluctant to ask relevant questions

Unwilling to share ideas

Independent Reading Book Final Projects – 50 Points

Please choose between the two assignments and follow the instructions to complete your project. Projects are due (in class) on Thursday May 5th.

Analytical Essay

Choose a thesis based on a theme, image, or character’s development.

Write an analytical essay in which you posit your thesis and develop it with details, including at least four quotes from the novel. The novel quotes should be reflective of the full novel, and should directly support your thesis.

Make sure your essay has a symmetrical structure with an introduction and conclusion.

Please see your six-trait writing rubric previously handed out for the assessment of this paper. If you don’t have your rubric, you can find another copy on the wiki.

Group Presentation

You and your fellow book reader/s will produce a dynamic presentation on a theme related to and connected to the book. It needs to directly relate to the book and use specifics or quotes (with page numbers) to support your ideas.

The presentation should include a visual or interactive component, and should engage the audience. This can be visual aid, video (no more than 2-3 minutes), a recording, an experiential learning (food), etc.

All members must present, and there will be a question section at the end where the audience will have the opportunity to hear the participants expand on their ideas.

Make sure that the theme is presented in an organized fashion: linear, topical, cause and effect, three-point argument. Consider using an outline to ensure this. Make sure your topics are developed with specifics

If the group is three or four people, this presentation should be at least 15 minutes long.

If the group has two people the presentation should be 10 minutes long.

If an individual would like to present on their book, the presentation should be six minutes.

Please see the presentation rubric on the opposite side of this.





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Haroun and the Sea of Stories

by Salman Rushdie
TBD 4th Quarter