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Student Centered Learning - Reading Focused Strategies

Page history last edited by seanh7802@... 5 years, 9 months ago


What Are Some Student-Centered Approaches Or Techniques For Reading?


Literature Circles: A Student-Centered Approach to Literacy




Literature Circles: A Student-Centered Approach to Literacy


What are literature circles?


In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students' response to what they have read. You may hear talk about events and characters in the book, the author's craft, or personal experiences related to the story. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. Collaboration is at the heart of this approach. Students reshape and add onto their understanding as they construct meaning with other readers. Finally, literature circles guide students to deeper understanding of what they read through structured discussion and extended written and artistic response.



Why use Literature Circles?


Reason #1: Literature circles can be a place for cooperative learning. Students help each other understand a text and make sense of it. Lit circles teach kids how to use each other as resources and become independent learners. 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 (Aguilar 2010).


Reason #2: Literature circles allow students to make choices about their learning. Students are usually given the opportunity to select one of several books that they'd like to read. They can also have a say about who to be within a book group. All children desperately need more opportunities to make choices in school. Choice leads to deeper engagement, increased intrinsic motivation, and an opportunity for guided-decision making (Aguilar 2010).


Reason #3: Literature circles are fun, in part because they are social experiences. Students are expected to talk a lot, (in contrast to the rest of their time at school) to debate and argue their ideas. Students are invited to bring their experiences and feelings into the classroom and to share them. 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. Furthermore, when we experience joy or pleasure, we feel more connected to a place, and to the people in that place (Aguilar 2010).


Reason #4: Finally, because they are fun, because students have a choice, and because they are a cooperative learning structure, literature circles are powerful experiences for reluctant and/or struggling readers. Literature circles have to be differentiated; by nature, each group will read books at different levels on different topics. Struggling readers can select a text at their level; the teacher can provide direct support to that group or can include a couple of higher-readers (Aguilar 2010).


What is the teacher’s role in literature circles?

The teacher's main role is not to teach. Instead, teachers use mini-lessons, debriefing sessions, and Socratic questioning techniques as they circulate the room, moving from group to group to evaluate student progress. As a facilitator, the teacher is never center-stage. In literature circles, the teacher’s role is supportive, organizational and managerial.


For a more comprehensive discussion of literature circles, check out Bonnie Campbell Hill’s guide Literature Circles and Response.

Her guide shares ways to implement literature circles for all grades.



Learner-Centered Literacy: The Daily 5 and CAFE

A school in Mechanic Falls, Main named Elm Street Elementary School weren't meeting their adequate yearly progress in the area of reading, but that all changed once they decided to make a change. They first identified gaps in reading by using a school-wide assessment and from there decided that kids needed to own their own reading. This way, they went from more of a teacher-directed classroom to a student-directed classroom. The best framework that they found in terms of scientifically researched strategies was the Daily 5 for K through 3 and CAFE Group with the upper gradesThe CAFE is broken down into four components: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. Each component is something that kids may have to work on to become good fluent readers. With the CAFE groups, students are able to pick books that are geared toward their interest level and strategy and skill level that they may be lacking in.  


A literacy specialist, Shawne McCord, talks about a book group she leads using the Daily 5. What the teacher would do is to give 10 to 15 minutes before the teacher blows a whistle or ring a bell letting students know that it is time to move on to the next center. The centers are: Read to Self, Read to a Friend, Listening, Writing, and Word Work. She says the core of this activity is to allow the children to be independent and thrive on their learning and get very excited about their learning. By implementing such strategy, the teachers have gone from a more traditional classroom to a more innovative one in which students are in charge of their own learning. As a result, their test scores have risen dramatically 


Here's the video of Elm Street Elementary School implementing The Daily 5 and CAFE.



What is the Daily 5? 

The Daily 5 is a framework for structuring literacy so students develop lifelong habits of reading, writing, and working independently.


How does it work?

Students select from five authentic reading and writing choices, working independently toward personalized goals, while the teacher meets individual needs through whole-group and small-group instruction, as well as one-on-one conferring. 

These choices include: 

  • Read to Self
  • Work on Writing
  • Listen to Reading, and 
  • Word Work


The benefits of They Daily 5 for teachers and schools include the following:

  • students develop independence, stamina, and accountability
  • less time consumed by classroom management and leaves more for instruction
  • the framework adapts flawlessly to district-adopted curriculums and state mandates
  • improves schoolwide literacy achievement
  • behaviors of independence transfer to other content areas


What is CAFE?

The Literacy CAFE System helps students understand and master the four key components of successful reading: ComprehensionAccuracyFluency, and Expanding Vocabulary.


How does it work?

The CAFE Menu breaks each component (comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and expanding vocabulary) into significant strategies that support each goal. Posted on the classroom wall and built throughout the year, it serves as a visual reminder of whole-class instruction as well as individual student goals.


Teachers use The CAFE System to assess, instruct, and monitor student progress. It provides tools for constructing group and individual lessons that provide just-in-time instruction, ensuring that all students reach their potential. The system helps teachers

  • establish and track the strengths and goals of each child by providing a structure for conferring;
  • organize assessment data and use it to inform instruction;
  • maximize time with students in whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one settings;
  • create flexible small groups focused on specific reading needs;
  • engage students, fostering ownership and accountability to reach goals; and
  • develop a common language to talk about reading development and proficiency.


For more information on the Daily 5 and CAFE, go to https://www.thedailycafe.com/cafe 














Aguilar, E. (2010, November 30). The Power of Literature Circles in the Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/literature-circles-how-to-and-reasons-why-elena-aguilar 


[Alyssa DeGroat]. (2014, August 28). Literature Circles 2014 Introduction [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/OWVVxRDzlgg 


Hill, B.C. (2007, April 1) Literature Circles and Response. Retrieved from http://bonniecampbellhill.com/Handouts/Handouts/NESALitCircleHandoutAthens07.pdf


[MaineDOEComm]. (2013, August 16). Learner-Centered Literacy: Owning Their Own Reading [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/xxx0P_euuSw 


Mat, M. (2014, July 17) Literature Circles: A Student-Centered Approach to Literacy. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://info.marygrove.edu/matblog/literature-circles-a-student-centered-approach-to-literacy



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