Tag Archives: Student-Centered Activities

Literature Circles Rock!

By Sabrina Völz and Jennifer Kühl

Image cred­it: Tim Geers

As we all know, more and more adults are read­ing less and less in their free time. That’s not a judg­ment, just a fact. Bud­ding book­worms might even be con­sid­ered an endan­gered species, so a few years ago, I start­ed look­ing for a dif­fer­ent approach to teach­ing lit­er­a­ture to stu­dents of all majors and back­grounds. While look­ing for inspi­ra­tion, I came across the lit­er­a­ture cir­cle, an approach that might just engage even the most skep­ti­cal uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent who’d rather be writ­ing code for an app or start­ing his or her own busi­ness. While it has become an inte­gral part of the Eng­lish class­room from ele­men­tary school upwards in the Unit­ed States, this stu­dent-cen­tered activ­i­ty is rel­a­tive­ly unknown in Ger­many. At least it was to me. Dur­ing my research, I found out that lit­er­a­ture cir­cles come in all shapes and sizes and can be struc­tured in many dif­fer­ent ways, so there’s no one “right” way of doing it. That very fact appealed to me and led me to explore unchar­tered territory.

In a nut­shell, a lit­er­a­ture cir­cle is made up of a small group of indi­vid­u­als who read the same text. Togeth­er they explore the text’s con­tent and style while reflect­ing, ask­ing ques­tions, and shar­ing feel­ings, just as any lit­er­a­ture cir­cle would do. Sounds sim­ple, right? It is and that’s exact­ly the point. When I first start­ed adapt­ing the lit­er­a­ture cir­cle to fit my university’s cur­ricu­lum, I didn’t real­ize how this method would rev­o­lu­tion­ize my class­room – at least for a day.

Read more »