Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Goodreads

March8

Many teachers, students and parents are not thrilled with reading logs.

Why? Paper reading logs are flat. On the norm, they only show a list of book titles. Therefore, there is not a lot of investment. Students (often with the prodding of parents) fill out these sheets to fulfill an obligation. At the end of the year, the data only indicates the number of books read. (And honestly, do we even know if the students are actually reading?)

One fifth grade teacher did not feel that these traditional reading logs were making lifelong readers and reflectors. Therefore, she asked for volunteers in her class (with parental permission) to try out Goodreads. This site allows users to keep track of books they have been reading, but it also makes reading interactive and social. Some of these features include creating book groups, writing stories, and creating/taking book trivia quizzes.

After using the site for a couple of months, I interviewed the teacher and three of her students to get their opinions about the Pros and Cons of Goodreads.

Teacher Pros:

  • Students are able to set reading goals and the number of books that they want to read.
  • Students can read each other’s recommendations.
  • The site allows for book conversation between the users (teacher to student and student to student).

Teacher Cons:

  • This is a not an educational/school site, so there is no dashboard or classroom area for a teacher to find and manage students.

Student Pros:

  • Students can explain about what they like/didn’t like about books they have read.
  • Users can share what they are reading with friends on the site. This helps with future book selections.
  • Users can comment back and forth about books that are being read.
  • Students can form their own book groups to talk about books, authors and topics.
  • Users can write stories and get feedback from friends on the site. (This makes students want to write more!)
  • Users can test their book knowledge with the quizzes from others.
  • Students can make their own quizzes.
  • There is an iPod app for Goodreads.

Student Cons:

  • Site is not entirely kid-friendly: other users (who are not even friends) may use inappropriate language that can be seen by students.

To the best of our ability we are addressing the Cons. We have set student accounts to be more private with students using anonymous user names. We have conversations with students about how to conduct themselves so that they are safe and in respectful situations online. The teacher has friended students and interacts with them at the site. Finally, an important piece is parental support. Since it is being accessed at home, students only can participate with parental consent. Parents are aware that this is a real world site, and they will need to guide and monitor students as well.

I feel that the Pros definitely outweigh the Cons. Every student I interviewed was enthusiastic about what they were doing at the site. The students and teacher are discussing books authentically. Reading is no longer defined by a book list on a piece of paper.

I welcome your thoughts and experiences with reading logs on or offline. 🙂

4 Comments to

“Goodreads”

  1. March 10th, 2011 at 8:44 am       jlmoreau Says:

    Lisa, sounds really interesting. Is there a way to check out the student comments to just get a little more understanding of seeing it work? Thanks!


  2. March 11th, 2011 at 7:24 pm       Peri Says:

    It sounds like the students, parents and teachers are well-versed with the purpose of this authentic work and inherent pitfalls of online interactivity. Great work. I am interested in exploring the features provided through our own server. I like the GoodReads idea though because it IS real/not isolated. If the site continues, might the student be able to continue this on their own for ……. ever?! A life long list of books. Hmmm!


  3. March 11th, 2011 at 7:45 pm       lsanderson Says:

    Jeanette- I’m sure one of our students would willingly give you a tour of her account’s view! 🙂


  4. March 11th, 2011 at 7:49 pm       lsanderson Says:

    Peri- I think it definitely is testing the waters at our age level. I’d love to find an educational community site, but I agree- isolation may make it stagnant or even forced.


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