Literature Link Up is an extension of the Literature Circles structure by Harvey Daniels. This unit has been developed to add another dimension to student reflection and communication. Using web pages and electronic bulletin boards, students are invited to share ideas and discuss novels, articles of interest or poetry on line.
English Language Arts -Literature
Learning Level: Grades 4-6Author(s): Trish McIntosh
do we encourage in-depth thinking?
do we demonstrate building on the ideas of others effectively?
Can we demonstrate synergy in a discussion group?
It is difficult to freeze frame a dialogue so that students can self –assess and reflect on their discussion skills. With a tool such as an electronic bulletin board, we have the opportunity to revisit our discussion and evaluate our skills. We also have the opportunity to extend discussion time beyond the constraints of a 30-minute class.
will be able to ask and respond to questions.
will be able to clarify information.
will be able to explain personal opinions and respond to questions and
opinions of others.
will be able to listen critically to others’ ideas or opinions.
will be able to show an awareness of the kinds of language appropriate to
different situations and audiences.
will be able to respond critically to texts.
will be able to describe, share and discuss their personal reactions to
Literature Circles are formed. These are groups of four or five students choosing to read the same book, poem, story or article. These groups usually are formed in one classroom; however, with on line literature circle groups, we can extend the invitation to students in other classrooms with internet connections. The group will stay together for approximately eight weeks depending on their familiarity with the literature circle roles and the length of the novel or piece of literature. Students will work for about 30-45 minutes a day for approximately 6 to 8 weeks. (See Daniels(1994) Literature Circles page 18)
On Line Literature Circles
prepare for this on line discussion the teacher can use Yahoo Invites to set up
a message board. The teacher will e-mail each student in the group, inviting
them to an on-line discussion. (Yahoo invites gives teachers the control to have
a small group discussion or open it up to others.)
teacher will walk the students through the invitation in their e-mail box,
clicking on Yahoo Invites and posting a message to the board.
meet and agree how much they will read each day in the during independent
reading time. ( It is important that they adhere to their decision and not go
ahead of the others. For those having trouble keeping up, it is necessary to
build in teacher intervention and support.)
day the students are given 15 minutes of uninterrupted reading time. After the
reading time, each person prepares a role for the literature discussion group.
beginning online discussions, the role to focus on will be the discussion
director. The job of the discussion director is to develop a list of questions
to stimulate thoughtful discussions.
What was going through your head when you read the part …?
How did you feel when you read this......?
Did today’s reading remind you of anything that happened in your life? Can you
describe the connection?
If you were that character, what would you do?
Why did the author write this book?
Can you describe a part where the author created a snapshot with words?
What was your favorite sentence or part of today’s reading?
How could the author make this a better story?
discussion director posts questions on the message board. Each student in the
group has a chance to visit the message board and post a reply. The challenge is
to keep the discussion going, building on the ideas of others, adding more
questions and bringing in the information from the roles that each student has
prepared after the independent reading time.
For a more advanced version of on-line discussion, the teacher could build a web page for one book or several books. Have students create illustrations using the illustrator role from the Literature Circle Activities. The pictures can be created digitally, or manually created and scanned or photographed using a digital camera. Students may then write a summary or an invitation to read and discuss the book. There are many sites where teachers have free access to building a simple web page if your school does not have the hardware or software. In Nova Scotia you can apply to Ednet for free web space. Once the web site is setup you can connect it to a bulletin board. I have used bravenet’s free bulletin board service, but continue to search for something to use that is relatively inexpensive and advertisement free.
will be working in small groups of 4 or 5.
will be done independently, with a partner or in small group.
will become familiar with literature circle roles.
plan for each student to practice each role will be established.
each day's reading, students will complete tasks for assigned roles.
roles are completed, each group gathers for a group discussion.
are a number of ways to construct on-line discussion.
The whole group can go on-line at one time if computers are
One person from each group can go and post questions answers and others take turns
computers become available.
Students with computers at home can be encouraged to add
The teacher will meet with groups to monitor progress.
The teacher can also go on-line to help direct or extend the discussion
focus on what makes a good discussion or good questions by designing a rubric
for evaluating questions.
Are the questions clearly stated?
Do the questions vary?
Are the questions thoughtful?
Is the question interesting?
Is the question imaginative?
copies of book, poems, or articles
Harvey Daniels’ Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups (Stenhouse, 2002)
computers or computer lab
LCD projector is useful
to an electronic bulletin board
sheets describing the roles and giving sample questions.
The project I have been working on has a group of biographies presented by students, while most of their discussion took place at Yahoo Invites, we added the bravenet bulletin board for future readers to discuss these books.
To obtain Nova Scotia teacher web space, contact the webmaster at Ednet. http://ednet.ns.ca