By Jessica Sanders
Literature circles have long been a staple in the classroom, encouraging students to be active participants in the learning process while reading the books they’re interested in. When you add technology to the mix, not only does the process become more engaging, but students are held more accountable for their jobs.
Use these 15 tools to guide the entire process, from choosing a book to testing comprehension at the end.
Choosing a Book
This website is full of student reviews, which are particularly powerful in helping students find a new book to read. Give students time on this website to find the book they want for the literature circle.
Students simply type the name of their book into the search engine, and are presented with a list of similar books. They’ll love literature circles so much more when they’ve chosen a book they’re excited to read.
Instead of reading a book, use Newsela to allow students to read a non-fiction article. Not only will they learn a whole host of new vocabulary words, but every student can read the article at their own reading level—there are five to choose from. If you use Google Classroom, you can easily share and access these stories, thanks to the Newsela integration.
Managing and Organizing Student Roles
This is a great tool for the Discussion Director. With it, this student can easily organize questions and share them with you (the teacher) afterward. This makes it easy for you to assess their success in the role and make inferences about their reading level based on the complexity of the questions, etc.
This is the app version of Dictionary.com, allowing the Vocabulary Enricher to quickly and easily look up words that need to be clarified within the story.
This app, also created by Dictionary.com, allows students to make their own flashcard decks. The Vocabulary Enricher can use it to quiz students on the new vocabulary they’re learning.
Similar to the Flashcards app, the Vocabulary Enricher can use Quizlet to create a “study set.” Each set can include text and images.
The Literary Luminary can use this online web app to put the four sections of the text they chose into the context of the story’s timeline. Students can add images to each event on the timeline as well.
This tool can be used by the Literary Luminary and the Vocabulary Enricher. Either student can use it to create a word cloud of important vocabulary words and quotes from the text.
The Checker can use a Google Sheet to note who completed their assignment, who participated in discussions, and more. Don’t give students a template—have them create it themselves, which will be a lesson in organizing data and thoughts.
This platform, originally created for business and personal organization, is the perfect platform for students to organize their discussions. The Discussion Director can create different Trello boards for different topics, making it easier for the Checker to see how everyone did in participation.
After reading, students can use Whooo’s Reading to log their reading and then show their comprehension of the text by answering a standards-aligned, open-ended question. Once answered, they can go to their class newsfeed to comment on the responses of other students, allowing them to continue their book conversations, even with students outside of their literature circle.
Students can use mind-mapping software like MindMup to show their understanding of the story, characters, plotline and more. Allow them to choose which element of the story they plan to tackle, or assign something specific to each group or student.
Poll your students post-literature circles. What did they think of their circle and the book they read? This is a great way to get feedback about how all students experienced the literature circle and how they liked the book—these simple data points help you personalize learning and circles next time.
Students can use this exciting online presentation tool to share their literature circle experience. Students that played a specific role can choose three important things to include, and then all students can work together to share the main points of the story with their class.