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It was an imperative that my middle school students felt connected to school and had positive academic interactions with their classmates.
As in many urban districts, the drop out rate in Oakland, California is terribly high; research reveals that students drop out primarily because they don't feel connected to a place or its people.
Therefore I'll argue that a structure like literature circles, when functioning as a place of connection and fun, can serve to anchor our kids in school.
Our students will not master standards and perform on exams if we cannot keep them in our classrooms; lit circles can help do that.
They're starting with a classic: Green Eggs and Ham.
Choice leads to deeper engagement, increased intrinsic motivation, and an opportunity for guided-decision making.
Reason #3: Literature circles are fun, in part because they are social experiences.
Of course, in order for them to be an effective structure for cooperative learning, the teacher needs to intentionally develop them as such.
Without guidance, modeling and support, they aren't automatically places of collaboration.
Reading has to be fun some of the time; if we don't make the experience enjoyable, our students are not likely to continue it once they're released from our grip.