What if you had to mark your own essay? What if you were tired and had read fifty essays already that day? At the heart of writing a good English Literature essay is readability.
The second important point to bear in mind when writing your English Literature essay is planning. Don’t start writing without a goal or an idea of the key points to cover:
These are all practical questions and suggestions that will not only help you write a good essay, but also keep you from drowning in a sea of words and ideas. Of course, it doesn’t matter if you want to change direction or modify your argument once you have begun, but it’s helpful to start out with an idea of where you’re going.
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Bear in mind that an English Literature essay should show your love of words and language. Remember to look out for and make interesting points about literary uses of sibilance, onomatopoeia, anaphora, alliteration etc. This is especially relevant, but not exclusive to, writing about poetry.
You must at all times ensure that quotes are woven into the body of your English Literature essay.
E.g. When King Lear appears at the end of the play, carrying Cordelia’s body, he can only ‘howl’ with grief at the ‘men of stone’ whom he is confronted by.
a) Get accused of plagiarism b) Confuse your reader
After experimenting for many years, I discovered an approach that's easy, fun, and effective. I refer to it as Classroom Book Clubs because it's a more relaxed method of doing Literature Circles that doesn't involve roles. You can view a narrated slidecast to this model by scrolling down to the Classroom Book Clubs section.
On this page you can also learn about different types of Literature Circles. I've had some success with all the models below, but all models haven't been successful with all groups of students. Read through the various descriptions and find something that feels right to you. Each description has a link to the part of the page that describes how to do a specific type of Literature Circles.Ways to Structure Literature Circles
Watch this short video to how Classroom Book Clubs work!
I've spent 15 years experimenting with Literature Circles in my classroom, and I finally found an approach that students enjoy, an approach that's free of cumbersome management systems. I'd love to tell you how it works! Click the video below and I'll share the 7 steps to Classroom Book Clubs success! To find out what others think, read what teachers are saying about this resource.
Mini Literature Circles (Using Leveled Readers)
Are you required to use a basal reading program in your classroom? Many programs have leveled readers that can be used as a way of introducing Literature Circles. Leveled readers are thin paperback stories or nonfiction selections, and they are written on a variety of reading levels. A Mini Literature Circle can be done in one or two days depending on the time allowed. Here's how:
Literature Circles with Roles
Some students enjoy having roles within their Literature Circles. These roles rotate for each meeting. One way to use roles is to use the Literature Circles Preparation Form. Give students a copy of the Literature Circle Role Descriptions. Make one Role Finder Dial per team. Assign each person on the team one role and have them prepare their assignment as described. On the day of the meeting, all students complete their worksheet during the meeting itself. For the next meeting, turn the dial one place to see the new role assignments. Students keep rotating roles until they finish their book. You might want to be aware that many teachers are moving away from Literature Circles with roles to less structured approaches. Sometimes the use of roles prevents deeper discussion of the book.
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SCHEDULES & ROLE SHEETS
English 098 - Prof. Reynolds
Introduction :� In order to understand and absorb the novel more thoroughly, the class will break into three "literature circles" modeled after the very popular book groups that have sprung up across the country in the last few years.� For each session of the circle, each person will take a different role in the group in order to facilitate a complete and lively discussion of the book.�� When the book is finished, each circle will produce a group presentation for the class (guidelines to follow), which will summarize and highlight what the circle felt was important about the book.� Finally, each student will write his or her own essay about the book.
Develops a list of questions
Locates a few special sections of the text to read aloud.
Provides a sketch, cartoon, diagram, flow chart, collage or other visual image
Finds connections between the book and the world outside.
Prepares a brief summary of the reading.
Digs up background information on any topic related to the book.
"The Things They Carried," "Love," "Spin,"
"On the Rainy River"
"The Man I Killed," "Ambush," "Style"
"Enemies," "Friends," "How to Tell a True War Story"
"Speaking of Courage," "Notes," "In the Field," "Good Form," "Field Trip"
"The Dentist," "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong," "Stockings," "Church"
"The Ghost Soldiers," "Night Life," "The Lives of the Dead"
Adapted from Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in the Student Centered Classroom
by Harvey Daniels. York, MA: Stenhouse Publishers, 1994
quoted in Teaching Developmental College Reading: A New Instructor's Handbook
by Suzanne H. Watts, CSU Fullerton, 1999
1. Discussion Director
Assigned Reading: _________________________
Discussion Director. Your job is two-fold; first, to determine the order of the various roles, and second, to develop a list of questions that your group might want to discuss about this part of the book. Don't worry about the small details; your task is to help your group talk over the big ideas in the reading and share their reactions. Usually the best discussion questions come from your own thoughts, feelings, and concerns as you read, which you can list below, during or after your own reading of the assigned text. Or you may use some of the general questions below to develop topics for your group.
Possible discussion questions or topics for today:
What was going through your mind while you read this?
How did you feel while reading this part of the book?
What was discussed in this section of the book?
Did today's reading remind you of any real-life experiences?
What questions did you have when you finished this section?
Did anything in this section of the book surprise you?
What are the one or two most important ideas?
Predict some things you think will happen next.
Topic or discussion thread to be carried to next meeting :_______________________________________________________________
Lit Circle Roles
Assigned Reading: _________________________
Highlighter: Your job is to locate a few special sections of the text that your group would like to hear read aloud. The idea is to help people remember some interesting, powerful, funny, puzzling, or important sections of the text. You decide which passages or paragraphs are worth hearing, and then plan how they should be shared. You can read passages aloud yourself, ask someone else to read them, have people read them silently and then discuss, or read portions of dialog as if �you were reading a play.
Location / Selection Title
Reason for Picking
Plan for Presentation
Students interact with a range of different kinds of texts in the classroom, but for many, films and movies are the favorite. Because of their interest in the films, projects related to these movie texts often result in a higher level of engagement. Capture this enthusiasm, and transfer it to reading and literature by substituting film production roles for the traditional literature circle roles. After reviewing film production roles�such as director, casting director, and set designer�students work together in cooperative groups to read and discuss a piece of literature, each assuming a film production role.FEATURED RESOURCES
Self-Reflection: Taking Part in a Group . Students use this sheet to evaluate how well they interact in a group activity, including their role in the group, completion of task, listening, and more.
Roles of a Film Crew . This printable sheet offers definitions of 11 major roles on a film crew. The sheet can be used for a variety of lessons in which students participate in or explore filmmaking.FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
Can students' genuine enthusiasm for film and movies extend into the classroom and literacy activities? John Golden, in Reading in the Dark: Using Film as a Tool in the English Classroom. thinks so. He writes, "[W]e know, or strongly suspect, that the skills [students] use to decode the visual image are the same skills they use for a written text, and our goal, therefore, is to use that immediate interest in and uncanny ability with film and make it work for us" (xiii).
This lesson plan invites students to think like filmmakers while reading a text, which in turn, makes the connection Golden refers to.
The Literature Circles Resource Center web site is based on the premise that there is no one way to do literature circles . Literature circles look different in every classroom; they change from teacher to teacher, grade to grade, student to student. Literature circles have no recipe, they are not a specific "program", and they never look the same from year to year -- or even from day to day. The reason? True engagement with literature within a community of learners can't possibly be prescribed -- it can only be described. And that's the goal of this web site.
The following links explain how we define literature circles on this web site, describe the role that literature circles play in a comprehensive and balanced literacy program, and illustrate some of the changes that you might expect to see as you work with literature circles in your classroom.
Role in a
Comprehensive Literacy Program
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.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand what literature circles are is to examine what they are not.
Literature Circles are.
Literature Circles are not.
Reader response centered