Tag Archives: Google Classroom

Literature Circles for Today

Harvey Daniels’ book titled Literature Circles (2002) describes a procedure to organize student book clubs in the classroom. A stimulating and productive discussion on a text requires participants to focus on many different things: overall content and form/style, particularly important passages, vocabulary, imagery, and the connections between the material and personal experience. The more we put into our discussions on all these specific fronts, the greater our comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the text as a whole.

The idea behind literature circles is that students take on different roles and responsibilities as they are reading a text. Students are assigned different roles on different days (at random) and that no student will play the same role twice in a row.

Each student is assigned one of the following seven roles:

DISCUSSION DIRECTOR (a.k.a Curious George) – As the Discussion Director, your job is to develop a list of questions that your group might want to discuss about this reading. Additionally, it is your responsibility to make sure that all the other group members share their materials.

LITERARY LUMINARY (the Buddha of the book) – To be LUMINOUS means to shed light. When you are acting in the role of Literary Luminary, it is your job to “shed light” on the significant and/or difficult, possibly confusing sections of the reading by bringing them to the attention of the group and reading them aloud. The idea is to help people remember some interesting, powerful, funny, puzzling, or important sections of the text.

ILLUSTRATOR (our very own Bob Ross!) – As the Illustrator, your job is to draw some kind of picture related to the reading. It can be a sketch, cartoon, diagram, or flow chart.Any picture that conveys an idea or feeling you got from the reading.

SUMMARIZER (You make it short, you make it sweet) – It is your job as a Summarizer to put it all together. You should prepare a brief WRITTEN summary of the reading, noting all the main events, interaction between characters and more. The other members of your group will be counting on you to give a quick (1-2 minute) statement that conveys the essence of that day’s reading assignment.

VOCABULARY ENRICHER (like an apple picker) – It is your job as the Vocabulary Enricher to be on the lookout for a few especially important words in today’s reading. If you find words that are puzzling or unfamiliar, mark them while you are reading, and then later jot down their dictionary definitions). Not all words that you select need to be unfamiliar. Also seek out words that are repeated a lot, used in an unusual way, or key to the meaning of the text.

CONNECTOR (You help connect the dots) – You are the Connector. Your job is to find connections between the reading and the world outside. This means connecting the reading to: your own life; happenings at school or in the neighborhood or news; similar events at other times and places; other people or problems; other books or stories; other writings with he same topic/theme; other writings by the same author.

OBSERVER (you are the “eyes and ears” of the group, an informant) – You have no particular written assignment overnight other than to read through the assigned section of text. But you will be busy tomorrow! You are the secretary, informant, and synthesizer all rolled into one. You must record the participation and information covered and contributed by all the other group members. To synthesize means to bring together. You should try to gather together everyone’s contributions and ideas into a single understandable summary during and after the group discussion.

These are the traditional roles and many have been updated to include Character Commandant, Mood Maven, Insightful Identifier, Symbol Sleuth, Mind Muser, and Reactionary Revealer. 

When I first started teaching my students would receive a color paper detailing the responsibilities of his or her role. Then, I threw out the reading and literature circle role log/worksheets.

Technology has enhanced the literature circles strategy to another level with Google Docs and platforms like Padlet, Seesaw, and Flipgrid. Students can use these digital tools to share their reflections, connections, understandings, and discussions. Assigning each book group a classroom in Google Classroom, students can submit digital evidence in the form of Google Docs, BookSnaps and/or any other application chosen.

Here are the benefits of Literature Circles: Student Choice

  1. Book selection – Students choose the books they will read.
  2. Job assignments – Students decide which roles they will assume
  3. Chapters read – Students decide how much they will read for the next session.
  4. Digital platform used – Students decide which digital platform the group will utilize.


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Getting Google-ly At #EdTechTeam Connecticut Summit 2017

Local Edcamps and Google Summits are the best professional development opportunities to learn the best technology platforms and practices to 10X student learning. Today’s #Edtech Team Google Summit in Manchester, CT was filled with engaging sessions to boost the potential of Google Suite in the Classroom.

Google Innovator, Jeff Heil @jheil65 was the opening speaker addressing moonshot thinking, quality instruction, and rethinking teaching. He raised questions about core beliefs, amplifying student voice and choice, and Google’s Project X as a model for classroom learning.

Brooke Whitlow presented “The WRITE Stuff with Advanced Docs” offering a Doctopus and Goobric Demo to efficiently evaluate writing in Google Docs.  Both of these add-ons for Google enable flexible, efficient rubric-based grading of Google Drive resources. As I re-evaluate the assignments that I create in Google Classroom for student reading and writing quests, these add-ons can help organize my evaluation of student work while at the same time allow me to offer effective feedback on their work.  Here is a step-by-step guide to using Doctopus and Goobric.

Revenge of the (Google) Sheets led by Jedi Master, Jesse Lubinsky @jlubinsky offered advanced tips to effective sort and filter data in Sheets. Again, there are many add-ons for Google Sheets that can help manage data and sheets for mapping, power tools, and even QR Code Generators. Save As Doc allows you to convert any Google Sheet (Think Responses for Google Forms) for printing and improved readability.

I led the session Getting Going With Gamification to introduce elements of gamification. In the session we defined gamification versus game based learning and looked at aspects gamification to utilize with our students to increase voice, choice, and adventure based learning. I discussed how to get started with gamification and build multi-layered games to engage and motivate both teachers and students. Below are the slides from the presentation.

Great teachers never stop learning and as Jeff Heil shared this morning, “We are here because we want to do what’s best for our students and to be better teachers for the students we serve.” There are so many amazing add-ons and technology tools that can help teachers and students succeed.

Through confidence, perseverance, respect and understanding you can accomplish the greatest of challenges that come in life. Never fear the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone. Never fear the idea of breaking free from traditional lifestyles. Believe in yourself and you will be able to overcome the trials you fear the most.” — Ryan Hudson @rhudsonsb

Snowboard Athlete & Public Figure

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