Literary Circles
Author: Catharine Niuzzo Honaman

Time: 2-3 classes
Preparation Time: 30 minutes to read lesson
Materials: Each student needs a matrix from the explore lesson

Students begin by working with others in the class whom have read the same book, comparing their matrices and making amendments and/or changes where necessary. Each group will make a presentation to the class in which they provide the other students with a short summary of their book and the answers to the matrix for their particular disease and its effects on the society that was stricken with it. This is the explain lesson. Students will share with others in class the plot of their books and the ways in which the disease in the stories affected society in a variety of ways.

Students will be able to:
1. Use correct grammar, spelling, and capitalization in their writing;
2. Connect information learned in history and science classes with the events described in the books that were read;
3. Make a clear and informative presentation to the class explaining how disease affected the community described in the books that were read.

National English Education Standards
Standard #1
Students read a wide range of print and non-print text to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world, to acquire new information, to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace, and also for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

Arizona State Standards
Strand 1: Concept 6: Comprehension Strategies
PO 2. Generate clarifying questions in order to comprehend a text.
PO 3. Use graphic organizers in order to clarify the meaning of the text.
PO 4. Connect information and events in text to experience and to related text and sources.

W-P1. Use correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and usage in writing.
PO 5. Sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing through the appropriate use of:
- capitalization
- standard grammar and usage
- spelling (with the use of a dictionary/thesaurus)
- punctuation

Teacher Background
In order to be a helpful moderator and an effective evaluator it is important to have an understanding of each of the books that the students are reading. You may wish to skim the various books as the students read them in class and look up additional critical information on each of the novels.



1. Let the students know that this lesson is in their hands. Ask them what the hallmarks of an effective presentation are. As a group, list what is an effective presentation. Use this as the basis for a rubric. Encourage them to see that having enthusiasm for their book/disease, being organized, speaking slowly and clearly, going over answers two (or more) times, and dealing positively with questions are all signs of a presentation in which the class will become authentically interested in the information being given to them.

2. Give the students an appropriate amount of time in the first class to meet with the others who have read the same book to compare their matrices and make amendments and/or changes where necessary. Each group will also need to write up a short summary of their book. Finally, they will divide up who presents what to the class.

3. During the presentations make sure that all aspects of the matrix from history class are thoroughly covered. The students listening to the presentation need to fill in the matrix for that book in detail, using correct English grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Encourage questions, especially those that clarify the book’s information and make connections to other sources.

4. Ask the students to take a few moments to write down what book they would choose to read if given the opportunity in class next week to read a second book. What about the book piqued their interest? Is anyone so intrigued that they will read the book they have chosen on their own time? Do they think the presentation style of the group who did read the book had any impact on their choice?


Embedded Assessment
Students should be assessed on both the quality of their oral presentation and on their written work. The matrices may be used in history class for an additional assignment and so need to reflect what has not only been learned by reading the book, but also what has been studied in science and history classes.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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