This year was my second time at the SABEH Summer Institute, and I wanted to show some new strategies I hadn’t used before. Among the new teaching methods I shared with the Chinese teacher-learners, my favorite was Literature Circles. When considering my approach to Literature Circles, I decided to combine the strategy with one I had discussed with classes previously, namely Jigsaw. Our classes had a positive experience with the Jigsaw strategy, so I combined it with the Literature Circle roles to split the class into four corners: Word Watchers, Illuminators, Summarizers, and Connectors. Each corner group discussed their reading of the story, “The Gulls of Salt Lake,” and recorded their responses on their role sheets. Everyone then reconvened in table groups to discuss their findings.
I found that combining the Literature Circles strategy with Jigsaw worked wonderfully for encouraging high-quality conversations about the text. The teachers in the class selected intriguing, personalized excerpts from the reading and used verbal interaction to and critical thinking to improve their comprehension of the story. In fact, when asked, many of the teachers in the class said that Literature Circles was their favorite strategy. I think it was beneficial that the other American teachers on my team – Sarah and Amber – also used Literature Circles, so that the Chinese teachers could see multiple ways of implementing the strategy. I look forward to hearing from the teacher-learners throughout the year to see how they use Literature Circles and Jigsaw in their own classes!