Literature Circles

I didn't invent this strategy, but I found it quite effective in both literacy support and advanced placement literature classes. Below, you'll find strategies and resources for implementing Lit Circles.

Samples and Templates

Modified Literature Circles


Modified Literature Circles

Directions and explanations for using this strategy.

Literature Circle TEMPLATE

Blank Lit Circle Template

Student-ready blank template.

Literature Circle SAMPLE

Sample Lit Circle

Student sample using Chapter 1 of Pride and Prejudice


Blank Template using a Google Slide | Click here to view a copy.

Lit Circle SAMPLE

Google Slide student sample using Pride and Prejudice | Click here to view a copy.

Leveled Questions Literature Circles



Level Qs Lit Circle TEMPLATE

Blank student-ready copy

Level Qs Lit Circle SAMPLE

Student sample using Pride and Prejudice

Literary Analysis Focused Literature Circles



Lit Analysis Circle TEMPLATE

Blank Template


Find a grouping strategy that works for you and your students. Perhaps you'll form groups by reading ability. Take into account how well students work together.

Have students take turns reading out loud within their groups. Make sure that the reading is broken up so that everyone gets a turn. I have found that this is a far more effective than whole-group "popcorn" reading.


These can be modified, of course, to meet your content or students' needs.

Assign the following roles to the students, based on their number in the group. Next time, they will rotate roles clockwise, so even if a student hates being the illustrator this time, he'll get to be the connector the next time, then the word watcher, and so forth.

  1. Character Control: You must keep track of the characters from the reading. What do we learn about them based on what they say and what others say about them? Keep track of role each character plays as well. Use terms such as protagonist, antagonist, motivations and character (either subordinate, dynamic, static). [Circle Map, Bubble Map, Flow Map, Multi-Flow Map]

  2. Illustrator: Your role is to draw what you read. This might mean drawing a scene as a cartoon-like sequence, or an important scene so readers can better understand the action. You can draw maps or organizational trees to show how one person, place, or event relates to the others. Use the notes area to explain how your drawing relates to the text. Label your drawings so we know who the characters are. [Almost any Thinking Map would work here, but especially a Flow Map or Tree Map.]

  3. Connector: Your job is to connect what you are reading with what you are studying or with the world outside of school. You can connect the story to events in your own life, news events, political events, or popular trends. Another important source of connections is other books or movies. [Bridge Map, Double Bubble Map]

  4. Word Watcher: While reading the assigned section, you watch out for words worth knowing. These words might be interesting, new, important, or used in unusual ways. It is important to indicate the specific location of the words (page #) so the group can discuss these words in context. [Circle Map]

  5. Summarizer: Prepare a brief summary of the day’s reading. In some cases, you might ask yourself what details, characters, or events are so important that they would be included on an exam. If it helps you to organize the information, consider making a numbered list or a timeline. [Flow Map, Tree Map, Brace Map]

Have students turn in their work as a group.

Example using Macbeth

Literature Circle Roles

Below are the basic roles each group member will take during our study of Macbeth. Group members will rotate responsibilities. so that each member will be responsible for each job 3 times.

1. Question Stems

The group member responsible for developing Question Stems will use the question stems handouts (link 1 and link 2) to create a set of free response questions and answers for each assigned reading. Make sure you work closely with the text by embedding quotations to support your answers.

2. Literary Devices

The group member responsible for identifying Literary Devices will record important passages/sections that use figurative language and will note the function of each instance for each assigned reading. Make sure you work closely with the text by embedding quotations to support your answers.

3. Thematic Connections

The group member responsible for creating Thematic Connections will compose thematic statements, identify important passages/sections that help develop the themes, and explain how those themes are dealt with in the play. Make sure you work closely with the text by embedding quotations to support your answers.

Reading Schedule

  1. Act I, Scenes 1-3 (pages 21-32)

  2. Act I, Scenes 4-7 (pages 32-42)

  3. Act II, Scenes 1-3 (pages 43-56)

  4. Act II, Scene 4- Act III, Scene 2 (pages 56-67)

  5. Act III, Scenes 3-6 (pages 68-80)

  6. Act IV, Scenes 1-2 (pages 81-92)

  7. Act IV, Scene 3 (pages 93-104)

  8. Act V, Scenes 1-6 (pages 104-116)

  9. Act V, Scenes 7-8 (pages 116-122)

Questions or comments? Contact me.