This book introduces you to a method of student-centred, collaborative learning called Literature Circles. Literature Circles have the immediate goals of developing independent, reflective and critical thinking, and increasing student understanding and enjoyment of literature. The ultimate goal of this method is enabling students to become life-long readers and, as a result, life-long learners.
The lesson plans in this book are grouped around five themes or basic questions, with the sample works explored in them chosen accordingly:
- Who are your real friends? (Kate DiCamillo, Because of Winn-Dixie and Jay Neugeboren, \"Luther\")
- When do you need family most? (John Updike, \"Separating\" and Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun)
- How important is a brother, a sister or a girlfriend in your life? (Carson McCullers, \"Sucker\", Jean Stafford, \"Bad Characters\", William Faulkner, \"Two Soldiers\" and Leo Tolstoy, \"The Two Brothers\")
- How do true leaders inspire followers while false leaders deceive theirs? (George Orwell, Animal Farm and C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)
- Is technology as much a curse as a blessing? (Isaac Asimov, \"Robbie\" and Ray Bradbury, \"The Veldt\")
Everything in this book is based on the assumption that students, not teachers, are the primary agents in learning. The corollary is that authentic learning is active learning. The process of using Literature Circles to engage students with texts, once learned on the works covered in this book, can be broadened to work with any texts in any English curriculum. The consequence is that students become responsible for their own learning, better readers and, in the end, better learners.