"Grouping in Literature Circles"

Today's guest blogger shares a summary
of an article she read recently.
Batchelor, K. (2012). The "us" in discuss: Grouping in literature circles. Voices from the Middle, 20(2), 27-34.
Batchelor’s article details her own literature circle strategies as a beginning point for both veteran and pre-service teachers who may lack experience with literature circle creation and implementation in a classroom. Batchelor, who attempted literature circles in her first year teaching, understands the struggles that are caused by broad inexperience and attempts to offer a brief overview of her own successful implementation. This article reads like a brief instruction manual, and is therefore salient to several different types of classrooms, students, and teachers. Batchelor’s final thoughts on the subject praise the amount of motivation, community, and interest that literature circles create in a classroom.
            I have recently become interested in literature circles through my practicum experience. The students were placed into groups based on text choice, a practice that Batchelor also uses. Unfortunately, I think that my clinical faculty member has missed the mark thus far on what she could gain from using literature circles in her seventh grade classroom. The primary purpose of their groupings, it seems, is to monitor each other’s progress and to meet briefly in order to discuss the answers to literature worksheets. Batchelor’s article not only provides group formation, discussion, and evaluation strategies, but also includes anecdotal experiences that showcase the beneficial social nature of literature circles. A particularly crucial gain of literature circles is groupings of mixed-ability students and motivation to stretch their thinking and participate in student-led dialogue about literature. A significant part of my own teaching philosophy is the formation of a classroom community, and I feel that literature circles are a worthwhile strategy that pre-service teachers receive very little instruction on.