Thursday, October 6, 2011

Virtual Book Clubs...part 2

On to part two of our discussion about changing the way we talk about books.  So you may wondering how you can easily start and maintain a virtual book club that will benefit students.  There are many ways that I can conceive to go about this and two that I have actually tested.

If you maintain a google site, adding a page of announcements creates what amounts to a blog.  You can post questions or opinions about the book you are sharing.  Your groups members can comment on those posts to add to the discussion.  The issue with this for me in the past was giving permission for those in your group to edit the page.  Recent changes in Sites now allows owners to give permission to individual pages and not an entire site.  I have yet to test this new format and therefore do not recommend going this route for most individuals.

Google groups however is a great way to maintain a secure location. Groups can be set up and users added and deleted very easily.  Any member of the group can post and comment.  The best part is that you can have notifications sent to your e-mail letting you know when anybody makes a post or comment.  Several staff members in my building used groups last year for reading response.  They all found it easy and a good way to make more connections with their students.  It does not take long to get  a group set up and students connect with it very easily.  If your students can check and respond to an e-mail, then they can use groups.  Within my district, an e-mail to the help desk is all that is needed to get a group started.  The IT team will set up the group and I can give you a brief over view in person how to do the moderation.  If enough interest is generated, we could even set up a short after school session to get going as a team.

I realize that we are all stressed and overwhelmed.  This is really a small thing that can make a big difference.  We as educators need to connect to our students in as many ways and as often as we can.  No longer can we afford to make excuses.  We became teachers to change and improve lives.  Can you spare five minutes in the evening to enrich the lives of a few kids?

In the words of the late, legendary Steve Jobs, "THINK DIFFERENT."