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Literature Circle Journal Prompts

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

When students are in literature circles, they get a chance to talk and think about what means most to them in text. This lesson offers some journal ideas that will help your students prepare for and reflect on literature circle work.

The Role of the Journal in Literature Circles

If you use literature circles, you're probably aware of their benefits as well as their challenges. Literature circles help students talk openly with one another about the important ideas in what they're reading. They encourage students to articulate their ideas about text and provide evidence to support these ideas. Literature circles can also be difficult, because students do not always know what to say or do, and they can be hesitant to participate.

One strategy you can use to make the most of your literature circle time involves journals. Two main ways you can use journals with literature circles are:

  • Students write in journals before meeting in literature circles to prepare for the day's discussion and ensure they have something to say.
  • Students write in journals after meeting in literature circles to reflect on how it went and consolidate what they got out of the experience.

In this lesson, you will find a series of prompts designed to meet each of these purposes.

Preparatory Journal Prompts

Here are some prompts to help students prepare for a literature circle.

Something Confusing

What was something that really confused you in the reading for today? Describe what was confusing, why this was puzzling, and what you might talk about with your group to get some clarity.

A Character Action

What character behavior really stood out to you from today's reading? What did you learn about the character that you didn't already know, and what was your opinion about how the character acted?

A Quote

Choose one quote from today's reading assignment that stood out to you. Offer a close analysis of the quote, including what it means to you, how you might explain its meaning to your classmates, and how you think the quote relates to the rest of the text so far.

A Problem

Describe a problem that one of the characters is facing and how you think the character should approach the problem. Offer openings for your group mates to describe their own opinions on this problem as well.

Pick a Question

In your journal, write a list of five to ten open-ended questions related to the reading you completed for the day. Then, choose one question to zero in on and write your thinking.

My Favorite Part

What was your favorite aspect of the reading you did for today, and why? Be as descriptive in your entry as possible.

A Connection

Describe a connection you made to the reading for today. Explain why you personally connect to this aspect of the text, and show what the connection teaches you both about the text and yourself.

Reflective Journal Prompts

Here are some prompts to help students reflect in their journal on a literature circle discussion.

What Went Well?

In your journal, describe what you think went well in today's literature circle discussion. Explain what helped the discussion go well, and reflect on how you can apply this experience to your group's next meeting.

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