Literature circles in the middle school: comprehension assistance

A review of the literature supports the idea that if students are to gain deeper understanding and comprehension, they must construct their own meaning from the text and discuss their findings with their peers. There is a transaction between the reader and the text. However, if that transaction is done solely by the reader's own schemata, their knowledge base is limited. If social interaction is indeed necessary to learn and the role of dialogue is a key component to this learning, then it can be hypothesized that through this interaction with the text, and discussion with other students, this schemata will broaden to enrich the student's understandings and therefore meaning construction. Along with such understanding comes comprehension. Such a method will assist literacy in America. With constant discussion and analysis of standardized tests, accountability, and standards, it is encouraging to find a method that will assist improvement of reading literacy. This method is called literature circles. This study shows that through language, both written and oral, peer-lead discussion groups allow for a deeper and broader understanding of literature and raise both comprehension and motivation.