Monday, January 8, 2018

Technology, reading and digital literacy - discussing books

Ever since 2005 I've been in a book club.  This has generally been a group of teachers at school who come together once a month or so, over something to eat, to discuss a book that we have read.  I've been in professional book groups as well where we have tended to focus on a couple of chapters of a book to discuss each time we meet.  In recent years I've also continued to connect with some of these book club friends, even though we are no longer working in the same country, using Goodreads.  I love my book clubs and enjoy our discussions - so we can assume that students would also like to opportunity to discuss what they are reading as well.  Even reluctant readers can be engaged "beyond the book".  As a 5th Grade teacher I used to encourage students to come up with a variety of ways of sharing what they had read and enjoyed, and I agree with L. Robert Furman who writes that this can lead to a passion for reading.

Technology provides many platforms that students can use to discuss what they are reading.  As mentioned before, Goodreads can be a great tool: now 10 years old, it has over 30 million members who have written 34 million reviews of over 900 million books.  Wow!  That is a lot.  When I hear about a new book and am thinking about whether to purchase it, Goodreads is definitely my go-to place online.  I'm particularly interested in seeing if the friends I've known in person have reviewed these books.  Teachers can also make book groups within Goodreads for their students to join.  Students can then discuss the books, make quizzes and take quizzes.

Other tools recommended by Furman for discussion books include ePals and videoconferencing either with other classrooms or with the authors of the books themselves. I've blogged before about activities that students can get involved in both pre call, and during and after the call. Furman recommends the Children's Authors Network for connecting with authors. For a couple of years now, one of the teachers at ASB has been participating in the Global Read Aloud. Through this project, her class has been able partner with other classes/schools and participate in shared literacy experiences using tools such as Edmodo, Padlet and Google Docs. Tracy has written about this project in her blog which also contains a video with student reflections. Other tools suggested by Furman for virtual books clubs include LitLovers, Edublogs and email.

As well as promoting a love of reading, global book clubs are an ideal opportunity to address issues of digital citizenship with students. They need to understand that once a comment is published, it's there forever, and it has been a good "teachable moment" for us to revisit our Responsible Use Policy with students.

Have your students been involved in virtual book clubs or online discussions about what they are reading? What are your favourite tools for encouraging a passion for reading?

Photo Credit: amrufm Flickr via Compfight cc

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