Content Area Literature Circles: Using Discussion for Learning Across the Curriculum

Content Area Literature Circles: Using Discussion for Learning Across the Curriculum

by Holly Johnson, Lauren Freedman

Editorial Reviews

This excellent text outlines a philosophy of developing questioning and critical-thinking skills through student-directed discussion groups in the middle school. Content Area Literature Circle (CALC) is something of a misnomer, because "literature circle" has come to mean a rigid form of group work that can stifle rather than promote meaningful discussion. Instead CALCs are flexible enough to adapt to any number of content areas and teacher styles. CALCs employ strategies currently favored in education, such as collaborative learning and graphic organizers, working well with other prevailing movements such as inquiry-based learning and differentiated instruction. Nevertheless CALCs will be a difficult sell for two reasons: the focus of many states on high-stakes testing, and universally limited teacher time. Curriculum administrators and librarians can sweeten the pill by distilling the salient points of the text for teachers before handing them the book, gathering the materials for their units, and modeling the techniques with them or their students. CALCs can be a successful component of test preparation, but the amount of time needed for students to develop the necessary skills may still be prohibitive, depending how each state's exams are developed. For that reason, this text might find its most enthusiastic support among teachers who see the same students for multiple subjects, or among interdisciplinary teams. Schools should give the concept a try, for they are much more likely to spark meaningful learning than any mere test preparation program ever could. 2005, Christopher Gordon, 205p.; Index. Biblio. Appendix., pb. Ages adult professional.
—Tracy Piombo

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Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc.
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New Edition

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