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Written Response

Adapted fromChapter 6 Getting Started with Literature Circles
Katherine L. Schlick Noe and Nancy J. Johnson
©1999 Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc
Reprinted by permission

In literature circles, writing can serve as a form of response that is both formal (demonstrating what students have learned or thought as they read) and informal ("thinking aloud on paper").  With guidance, students at all levels can learn to use writing in both of these ways.  Here are some steps to take:

  • Help students understand the purpose for writing

  • • "Thinking aloud on paper": A way to generate and shape what you're thinking about as you read or as you prepare for discussion; or
    • Formal synthesis: A way to refine ideas that have come up during discussion and to mold them into something more formal

  • Help students find a focus for their writing:  Show students where ideas for writing can come from.

  • • Brainstorm ideas for writing;
    • Model your own process of coming up with ideas for writing and for shaping your writing

  • Offer some tools for written response: Open-ended questions, prompts, varied forms of written response.

  • • Use questions that come up during discussion as jumping-off points for writing
    • Open-ended questions: "How are you like this character?" or "What do you think will happen next, and why?"
    • Prompts: "I wonder...", "I wish ...", "What if ....?"
    • Diary entries in the voice of a character
    • Cause/effect explanation
    • Letters to characters (or from one character to another)
    • Sketching or drawing

  • Teach for in-depth response: Model, discuss, and practice written response.

  • Assess and evaluate written response: Build students' skills through ongoing feedback and refinement.

Literature Circles Resource Center

© 2004 Katherine L. Schlick Noe
College of Education
Seattle University