Connecting with Readers at Community Circle
In the world of education, we are always looking for more time. How can I get ten minutes more for this subject? What about five minutes more for that one? Even if our days were ten hours long, we would still have every moment filled to the brim.
These time pressures lead us to make many decisions, usually trimming activities that are not directly related to academic content. Despite these pressures, there has always been one non-academic routine I refuse to cut. I won’t remove it, won’t shorten it, and won’t slide it to another time of day. It is our daily community circle.
This is Part 2 of my series on connecting with readers. (Part 1 – Reading Response Letters) Community circle is a huge part of building my relationships with my readers.
Each morning, after completing the day’s morning tasks, I ring my chimes, signaling the students to stop working and arrive at community circle. As with other routines, we had to practice this multiple times at the beginning of the year, and now the procedure is automatic. Students sit in the same place each day near their teammates.
I begin by welcoming the group and review the day’s agenda and any announcements or news. Sometimes, we celebrate an accomplishment by another student. Then, most days there will be a question or prompt for students to address.
- Monday – Catch-Up Time – Tell us about something you did since we saw you last week.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – These topics vary. Sometimes, we’ll share something we’re working on in another class. Others times, I’ll use the Kids’ Book of Questions to come up with a fun topic. We’ll also discuss lifeskills or important events.
- Friday – Free Share – Tell us anything you want!
“But I thought this was a post about reading?” you are now likely asking. The information I gather from students during this time period helps me understand each and every student. I learn what they like to do in their free time. I learn about teams and clubs they belong too. I learn what they love and what they can’t stand. Their successes and difficulties shared at our community circle help me know them as people.
If I truly know my students, only then can I make meaningful book recommendations. I know the book to place in front of my student who loves horses (Riding Freedom), the one who wants to be a scientist (The Hive Detectives), and one who is always talking about her annoying sibling (Sisters). If I didn’t know my students, I’d just be guessing. Now, uninformed book recommendations are better than none at all, but community circle allows me to connect with my students in an unparalleled way. This connection helps me guide them to be the amazing readers I know they can be.