There are many benefits to using interactive notebooks in the classroom. This hands on kinesthetic form of learning helps students to remember and recall information better. It also gives them ownership of their learning.
Now, combine this with literary circles and you have student centered learning at its best. Literary circles help students to process their reading in a more realistic setting because they can discuss texts with one another.
One last thing I will say about interactive notebooks is that they are great tools for classroom management as well. When the students know what to expect they are less likely to create behavior problems. So, onto how to use both of these together.
To read more about the benefits of interactive notebooks check out this article from Teach Hub.
Setting Up Literary Circles
To begin, I analyze my students and their reading abilities. In the book Rigorous Reading, Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher write, “When using collaborative learning, mixed-ability groups/pairs are not only preferred by students but also allow for students to get the help they need from their peers. The preferred ratio is two lower-performing students and one higher-performing student.”
This is how I have arranged my literature circles except with groups of five. So, I have three lower readers and two higher readers in each group. This will help you create more successful discussions with your students.
Creating Interactive Notebooks
I use the interactive notebooks for everything we do in the literature circles and classroom instruction.
You can start by making an example of what you want the interactive notebook to look like. This is an important step. When I did not make my own example, I found them not to be as successful in the classroom, because I didn’t know what the students should do and when they should do it.
This is the sample notebook that I have set-up.
You can see each section is clearly labeled with a title, date, and page number. This is vital so students can refer back to different pages as needed while reading the book.
What is in the Interactive Notebook?
- Pre-Reading Activities
- Literary Circle Roles & Role Sheets (This provides a writing opportunity so students have written thoughts to use during their discussions.)
- Vocabulary & Vocabulary Activities
- Reflection Questions
- Any other type of activity you want the students to complete while reading their novels including mini-lessons
How to Run the Literary Circle
Honestly, this is where you start to make the decisions. Reading and discussion depends on your students and their abilities/levels. For example, because we are working hard to prepare for our state testing, I am having the students do a lot of the reading independently while filling out their role sheet for the discussion portion.
This gives them the opportunity to interact with the text first. It will give them more confidence leading towards the discussion activities. Then, I will utilize comprehension and vocabulary activities as homework. We do all of our reading during class time.
Altogether, using interactive notebooks with literature circles will not only enhance your classroom, but also your students’ learning experiences. Using collaborative discussion strategies lifts the cognitive load off of you, the teacher, and gives it back to the students.
One of the biggest assumptions I get from teachers at my school is that because we are so focussed on teaching to the test; there is no room for creative activities and student centered learning in the classroom. I am here to tell you that is simply not true.
Let me know how you use interactive notebooks in the classroom, leave a comment below!
Subscribe for more great tips & tricks!
This post was proofread by Grammarly