Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Reading circles group meets at Romsey

Last week I spent a few hours after school with a group of teachers who are using Reading Circles as part of their reading work in schools. You couldn't meet a more enthusiastic bunch of teachers; well this isn't exactly true, as I work with enthusiastic teachers in all schools, which is surprising given that politicians and the media love to constantly criticise public school teachers.

The group is using an adapted form of Harvey Daniel's Literature Circles. We use the roles and basic cooperative learning approach but adapted it to using short text such as short stories, non-fiction articles, extracts from texts including Maniac Magee and King Lear with great success. A couple of teachers said that their kids also use reading circles when discussing television and film.

It seems students enjoy the support the reading circles structure provides for them to discuss and explore texts in depth. They become enthusiastic readers and talkers in their circles. I remember one grade 5 student Nick saying, "It's amazing you know, we do all the work; we read the text, think of the questions, run the discussions and then work out what went well and what we need to do to improve."

Also I remembered a grade 7 boy saying that he hated reading because his teacher made the class write a book report for every chapter they read. Enough to turn kids off reading but reading circles is turning them on. It certainly isn't about the Gradgrind model from Charles Dickens of filling the empty vessel with facts.


steve said...

great to see you have entered the blogosphere.
As a maths teacher, is there a maths parallel or application to the concept of 'reading circles'?

Sam Grumont said...

We're working on it, In fact one teacher, Alisa Burdett, is keen to use reading circles with her grade5/6 maths students.

steve said...

I'd be interested in having a closer look at this.
Maths seems 'rushed' to me. When I get students 'talking', and explaining what they're doing as a group it helps me see where they get stuck, and students have indicated they also benefit from this process.
I do a difficult worked example on the board and encourage students to show 'where they get stuck'. Usually, students explain the answer to their peers.
I'd be interested to have a look at 'literature circles' in action to see if it could be adapted to maths.