Fifth-grade circles address literature

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 4, 1999

After reading chapters in the classic, &uot;From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs.

Monday, October 04, 1999

After reading chapters in the classic, &uot;From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil Frankweiler,&uot; it didn’t take long for Amanda Nelson to predict what would happen next.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I think they will take the bus,&uot; the fifth-grader said of the book’s two main characters, Claudia and her brother Jamie.

Nelson’s prediction was determined by reading assigned pages and forging the most likely future of Claudia and Jamie, who run away to a museum to teach their parents a lesson.

At least, that’s how the assignment was designed to work.

Like most fifth-graders at Sibley Elementary School, Nelson has read well beyond the assigned pages.

She knows the outcome.

That’s OK.

Starting this year, Sibley fifth-graders gather in the school’s media center at 2:10 p.m. each day. They are grouped in five-member literature circles and discuss assigned books until about 2:45 p.m.

To better prepare the students for the sixth-grade, the literature circles will continue all year at the Albert Lea elementary school under the guidance of Steve Jordahl, Sibley principal; Kathy Niebuhr, media specialist; and Dawn Berg, social worker.

&uot;They’re each reading the same book this time,&uot; said Niebuhr said, who circulates from group to group. &uot;This is sixth-grade material. They’re gaining experience in a group discussing literature.

&uot;As adults, we do that,&uot; she added of learning in groups. &uot;It’s that kind of experience for kids.&uot;

In the circles, each student is assigned a leadership position. As they discuss how the books relate to &uot;real life,&uot; the connection leader writes down the responses of each member.

&uot;We go to museums,&uot; Jeffrey Swanson said as an example to Kelsey Lovgren, one connection leader. &uot;I count my money,&uot; added Nelson as another example.

Besides preparing students for the sixth-grade, the literature circles teach students not only more advanced reading skills, but also comprehension.

When they finish in the individual groups, the answers are shared with the entire class.

The students also discuss what they felt as they read, different parts of books and predict what will happen in each book.

They talk about challenging words and favorite paragraphs.

&uot;Each student gets to pick out what they thought was cool,&uot; Niebuhr said of the &uot;Literary Luminary&uot; assignment.

&uot;We’re trying to get them to read more challenging books. We’re trying to use the sixth-grade model. They’re very good at it. They’re challenging each other.

&uot;They’re getting an extra half hour of reading every day,&uot; she added.