Lit. Circle Crash Course Results and Feedback

In this post I will share the results of a survey I conducted to see how students feel about the literature circle readings and assignments that they’ve worked on over the past 8 weeks. If it’s your first time here, you can read about my initial experiences planning the assignments here and here. A quick google search yielded several useful results that I used to create this survey. Of the 14 students in the class, only 10 of them responded. Though the group is small, the overwhelmingly positive feedback has cemented literature circles as a feature of all my future reading/writing classes – and it may just spill into my TESOL courses. Here are the results from the likert-scale questions:

How much of the book did you honestly read? 

The literature discussion on Wednesdays helped me understand the book better (1-totally agree, 4-totally disagree).

The literature discussion on Wednesdays helped me connect personally with the book.

The literature circle on Wednesdays made me think about things in the book that I had not thought of.

The literature circle on Wednesdays made me feel pressured to keep up with the reading and do my homework.

How much did you enjoy your book? (1- I really enjoyed it, 4-I really didn’t like it)

So far the results are generally very positive. On their own, though, these numbers don’t really say much about how students perceive the experience themselves. The following responses shed some light on how students perceive the literature circles as a whole.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of literature circles?

  • Normally I don’ t have a lot of chance think about books after reading them but through this time I read some of books and I had some times to think deeply about the books. Also it helps me improve my creativity.
  • Use english lot
  • The benefits of literature circle is that you keep up with reading thoroughly.
  • I liked it because I have done this in my previous school in Canada.
  • I like how when I read, I am so focused on my role to do following role that I was provided.
  • I could find other people’s thoughts and compare with mine.
  • Literature circles made me to understand the book better.
  • It make me read books.
  • Make me r.e.a.d english text
  • I could understand some parts of story that I couldn’t understand.
  • It forces me to focus about little details in the book.
  • I think the literature circle helps me understand the book better.
  • Sometimes there are parts that I don’t fully understand. By discussing with my literature circle members, I can understand the story better.
  • I can know several opinion about the book.

What could the teacher have done to make the literature circles more fun?

  • Need more activities, roles and more interesting books
  • Choose the part umm.. everything was good! Maybe next time, choose a book with a movie!
  • We can read a book, then when its done we can see a movie together before the exam week to relax.
  • I think playing quiz game would make more fun.
  • Asking something and answering it will make the class lively.
  • Choose moer easy book….
  • Just ok :)…
  • Explain more about each role with examples?
  • Or actually participate in discussions with a role! I think you’re doing great 🙂
  • less amount of homework

What it is that you like or dislike about literature circles?

  • Everything is fine. Since elementary school, I’ve not in any literature circles and the chance of reading a book was getting lower because of studying.
  • Discussing and sharing ideas with friends are really fun and helpful.
  • It’s really a good way to expand my horizons.
  • Little bit hard to understand the book(took lots of time), so it gives me pressure
  • I liked everything about a literature circle, except the time management problem.
  • Sometimes the discussion had ended up early because case 1, some of the group members had forgotten their work, case 2, the discussion didn’t go smoothly because some of the group members didn’t even had a chance to read a book. They should be more responsible for reading.
  • I liked literature circles having many roles like summerizer, questioner, and connector etc.Because of many roles, the class wasn’t boring.
  • I like this class because it is not boring .But the book is little difficult for me.
  • Sometimes our team talks about other thing that is not related to topics. Also talking is not easy
  • I like questioner and I dislike travel tracer
  •  In my opinion, sometimes some roles do not match with certain chapters. For example, word wizard definitely is not needed for this new book, future of us.
  • I like literature circles because I can hear about different opinions and share ideas.
  •  I like we can share many thought but sometimes it is hard for me to understand the story of the book and to read a lot of amount pages.

Are you looking forward to doing this again? So, what does all of this mean for me? Well, my first thought is that my last minute attempt to run literature circles effectively worked. The success we’ve had so far, however, is a result of the literature circle itself; it does what it’s supposed to do – it gave students real reasons to read and provided adequate opportunities for students of different levels to scaffold each other. In many ways, my contribution was minimal, and I like it that way. In the future, there are several things I will do to get more out of the experience. First, I will manage the roles more effectively. At some times, with some texts, certain roles should be avoided. Second, to encourage reading and give students a choice in the roles they take, I will let them choose. Beginning with the second book this term, I let students choose their role. I made one rule, or guideline, regarding role choices that worked really well. I told students they could choose their role as long as they didn’t pick the same role as someone else in their group. Roles were selected on a first come first serve basis. So, for example, if I want to be the summarizer, I need to make sure that I post my summary on the class blog before anyone else. I found this to work really well because it pushed students to read and post earlier in the week, which resulted in more thought being put into each assignment. Like most of the of the students, I am also looking forward to the next reading. Our next writing pattern is persuasive writing and this time I’ve chosen the text. I chose the first chapter from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Outliers. Students will write about the relationship between talent, dedication, and opportunity. As I said before, I will go through the possible roles and make sure they are all relevant to the reading before assigning it. Now, how can I bring literature circles into my graduate SLA class? Time to get into academic reading circles.

3 thoughts on “Lit. Circle Crash Course Results and Feedback

  1. Thanks for writing this up, Bill. I’ll definitely come back to this the next time I set up a an academic reading/writing class. It should address both input and several of the writing genres my students are supposed to practice for their standardized test. I might even work out a way to integrate ‘proper email form’ (whatever that is) with this.

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