When forming student groups for literature circles, I KNOW you already keep student reading levels in mind, as well as considering what you know about who works best with whom, and varying student groups so that your kiddos have a chance to work with new friends throughout the year.
(Thanks to Jessica for the use of her digital background)
I think it's nice to consider student preferences too. Since I teach middle school, doing the "book walk" where students check over the cover, skim through and have a chance to chat about what they see inevitably results in the same groups of friends selecting the same book.
Instead, I took a different approach. I put together a one page student survey based on the books that I had available to offer for literature circles. (I haven't included a copy here because yours needs to be custom to the books you have to offer.)
It included pictures of the books' covers for students to rate as highest interest to lowest interest, as well as rating scales for genres, themes, general two-five word summaries of the plots, and a self-assessment area for students to comment on their own reading levels & abilities.
What I loved about this idea was that it still provided me with lots of flexibility in grouping students, and I truly ended up with groupings that I never would have created on my own without the students' input in this way.
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