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Literature Circles and Multigenre Writing. Paula Griffith, Dickinson ISD, Dickinson, Texas Nancy Votteler, Sam Houston State University, What are literature circles?.

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Literature Circles and Multigenre Writing

Paula Griffith, Dickinson ISD, Dickinson, Texas

Nancy Votteler, Sam Houston State University,


What are literature circles?

When readers come together to read, discuss, and share a book in a community that takes ownership of their reading process much like an adult book club—that is a literature circle.


Eleven “Key Ingredients…

Daniels, 2002

1. Students “choose” their own reading materials.


7. Group meetings aim to be open, natural conversations about books, so personal connections, digressions, and open-ended questions are welcome.


11. When books are finished, readers share with their classmates, and then new groups form around new reading choices.

how do you sustain momentum and excitement
How do you sustain momentum and excitement?






What is multigenre writing?

Multigenre writing combines both paradigmatic “knowing” and narrative “knowing” in various genres that give the readers better, and often provocative views of the writing topic.


Multigenre writing asks students to read deeply about something that interests them, connect their reading to their own experience and synthesize what they know into a creation all their own.

“Our passions might limit us, but they also empower us.” Tom Romano


Essential Ingredients:

1. This kind of research requires passion. Therefore, successful multigenre writing is about the students’ interests, students’ topics and student choice.


2. Discussion—students need time to discuss their ideas, reinvent their thinking, revise their work and get feedback from their peers. Multigenre writing is truly collaborative.


3. Personal connections—when students are reading about their own interests, they are vested in the process. If it is interesting to them, they will construct meaning from text by making it personal and their own.


4. Modeling—this is the perfect time to write with your students! Show them your own struggles as well as examples from real literature and other student models.


5. Experimentation—encourage risk taking in your classroom. It is just as important that students are allowed to discover their own reading and writing identity as it is to pass a test.


6. Process—this is the time to focus on writing process, teach revision strategies, examine editing rules and establish “expert” cohorts that can assist with peer learning.


Essential Tasks:

  • The art of topic selection
  • How to conceptualize a written composition from scratch—TTAPP.
  • What is a theme? How does a writer create separate texts that are thematically connected?

Essential Tasks, cont. :

  • 4. Stylistic devices such as metaphor, simile, flashback….
  • Documentation skills and how to avoid plagiarism
  • 6. Language skills, including editing skills and word choice

Peter’s Diary

Dear Diary;

You won’t even begin to guess what happened today. I was in my backyard when I saw five or six airplanes in the air. So I ran inside to tell my parents, but they just said, “Oh, it’s probably just the Air Force.”

That’s when we heard “KABOOM!” We ran outside to see what it was and we saw smoke throughout the air! People were running away from the airplanes. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. “So, they were Japs,” my dad said. We could hear sirens everywhere.

“Pearl Harbor is under attack!” said the reporter. We were watching the news to get some information on what was happening outside. They said that two ships were under water, the Arizona and the Oklahoma.

“My friend’s dad is on that ship,” I told my parents. Now, all I could think about was the people on those boats and their families and how they must feel….

Inspired by Boy at War by Harry Mazer


My Feelings

I woke up one morning thinking it was going to be an ordinary day like no other. Once I got to school, I had language arts. When everybody got to class my teacher, Mrs. Griffith, told the class that we were going to start a book club.

I chose a book called Girl of Kosovo. When I was reading that book, it got to me. It made me think that it was wrong to kill another religion just because there different.

Then one day, Mrs. Griffith put some books on the desk, and I read the book, One Boy From Kosovo. It was about families who lived in refugee camps who were hiding from the war. They really had it bad….

Inspired by Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead


Civil Rights

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks had been working all day, and her feet were killing her. She did not want to give up her seat, so this is how it all started. Rosa refused to give up her seat. She did not want to argue, and she did not want to move. So she was arrested. She was not the first African American to be arrested for not following the Jim Crow laws, nor would she be the last.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He and other community leaders felt a protest of some kind was needed. A meeting was called, and an overflowing church crowd came to the church to here Dr. King speak. He told the crowd that the only way they can fight would be to boycott the bus company….

Research inspired by Sounder by William Armstrong


Jews and the Holocaust

Every Jew had to sew a yellow star on there clothes, and they had to put them on there window so that the soldiers could see them at night. Once they put them on their clothes, they were taken away and never heard from again. The soldiers took them on a train, and the poor people had to stand in the train for hours—hungry and thirsty. Some women were throwing their babies out of the windows of the train. People were watching but did not pick any of the babies up. I bet you if I were there I would pick up as many as I could because I think it is wrong for people to be able to take people away like that….

Inspired by Number the Stars by Lois Lowry



Daniels, Harvey. (2002). Literature Circles: Voice

and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups.

Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Romano, Tom. (2004). Crafting Authentic Voice.

Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Romano, Tom. (2000). Blending Genre, Altering

Style. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Romano, Tom. (1995). Writing with Passion.

Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.