Role Reminders


As Discussion Director  I ask open questions about the text and challenge assumptions using EBC..


An Illuminator  locates passages by page number of important passages (explains why) using EBC..

A Connector might point out how things in the book are related to the "real" world using EBC..


A Word Watcher might point out words that are interestingly used or odd in the text using EBC..


An Illustrator might create chart, diagram (e.g. Venn Diagram), map, or picture using EBC..


The Summarizer might describe what was learned by close reading and said by each person in the discussion using EBC.. 

Meet in literature circles and complete a Shared Notes sheet Here some groups are preparing ahead and making copies of their notes to share around-- way to go!















Meet in roles groups and prepare to share at your group's next meeting.  Here is what you are expected to do:

Discussion Directors meet together:  ask open questions about the text and challenge assumptions using EBC.

Illuminators  locate passages by page number of important passages (explains why) using EBC.

Connectors point out how things in the book are related to the "real" world using EBC.

Word Watchers point out words that are interestingly used or odd in the text or have multiple meanings using EBC.

Illustrators might create chart, diagram (e.g. Venn Diagram), map, or picture using EBC and be able to explain why they created it.

Summarizers might describe what was learned by close reading (carefully looking at the text using EBC) and said by each person in the discussion using EBC.

EBC -- Evidence Based Claims

















An Overview--

Stage 1 Modeling       Stage 2 Internalization / Generalization


Why modeling Literature Circles is crucial?

In introducing literature circles, skills, roles,  and expectations have to be defined where students have not taken a leadership role in their own learning.  I begin by modeling a text with the students and then allow them to select their own texts with as much freedom as is possible.  This must not be a substantial part of the text but just enough to "prime the pump" when needed.

What does modeling look like? 

We read a portion of the text in class together and I provide examples of each role writing notes on the board as they naturally arise--- as if I were in the reading circle.  I find it convenient to have a Role Reminder poster by the board and as I write a note on the board ask the students to identify the role(s) the note satisfies.  Students are given roles and encouraged to take notes according to their groups.  (Groups are limited to five --  I write six names on the board and then call people up (one at a time by row) to write their names on the board.  By selecting horizontal left right right left or vertical rows back to front and front to back or by alpha  or every other row --- groups can be quite diverse and still allows students some choice.


e.g.   Lord of the Flies -- (From the Hebrew Beelzebub)  

                                                        Theme--  Civilized versus Uncivilized


Savage or Uncivilized

Pink/ Granite


Specs (glasses)/ Tool



Witch like



Conch /Tool

The Scar


Using names to hurt


As Discussion Director I ask questions about which things might belong in which column and why.  Why does Ralph play as if he is a fighter plane spitting out the name Piggy?  Isn't sharing names civilized? 

Locating the passage where Ralph and Piggy share names is the job of the Illuminator.

The Connector might identify the evacuation of the children and connect their school uniforms to the evacuation of Britain during WWII and find a picture to share.

The Word Watcher might point out that the boys "buzz" like flies during the first meeting and that the title has another meaning.

The chart of civilized and uncivilized elements is drawn-- that's the job of the Illustrator.

The Summarizer might describe the plot of chapter one and what we have learned by close reading (like there is an atom bomb and the boys may not be picked up for quite a while) with questions we have for the next chapter. 



Stage 2

Internalization / Generalization

Literature Circles

In a nutshell, literature circles are a structured reading activity that allows powerful, high-ordered discussion and thinking to go on around good books. Sophisticated literary discussions are the outcome. Literature circle time is separate and different and special. It is a time for kids to:

What is the environment of literature circles?

It is a place of informal, energetic, natural conversations about books. In the circles roles are played out in an individual, daily rotating, interwoven, spontaneous and predictable pattern.

What student behaviors occur there?

For reluctant sharers  Here

How are the circles organized?

Students independently self select a text from a variety of offerings. They are given time to meet on a regular, predictable schedule with the circle of students (usually 4 or 5) which has elected the same text. In the circles, they take turns playing specific roles which help the discussions remain sophisticated and literary. By learning the roles, students ultimately become experts at analysis while the reading process is concurrently enhanced. Students progress toward the objective of being experienced readers.  The initial meetings to determine assignments and organization are critical.  Allow students to count the pages and divide the text into parts (ideally six) to allow each role to be visited if possible.

What are the specific purposes of the roles?

The roles are designed to invite different cognitive perspectives on a text (drawing a response, reading passage aloud, debating interpretations, connecting to one's own life, creating a summary, tracking the scene, focusing on words and tuning in to one character). The students practice the roles on a rotating basis until they are internalized.

What do students read in the circles?

They read real, whole, unabridged books:

What DON'T they read?

How it is decided what will be discussed?

Kids develop and pursue their own discussion topics.

What is the teacher's role?

As an unobtrusive facilitator rather than a presenter/questioner at the center of attention.

What is the student's responsibility?

Why do the circle work so well?

How does high-order assessment of kids joining in a thoughtful small-group conversation about literature occur?

We use the tools of:

The Twelve Ingredients of Literature Circles

1) Children choose their own reading material.
2) Small, temporary groups are formed, based on book choice.
3) Different groups read different books.
4) Groups meet on a regular, predictable schedule.
5) Kids use written or drawn notes to guide both their reading and discussion.
6) Discussion topics come from the students.
7) Group meetings aim to be open, natural discussions.
8) In newly forming groups, students play a rotating assortment of task roles.
9) The teacher serves as a facilitator.
10) Evaluation is by teacher observation and student self-evaluation.
11) A spirit of playfulness and fun pervades the room.
12) New groups form around new reading choices.