I hate reading logs. Seriously. I haven’t had any meaningful success with real students using them. I mean, they’re great in theory: keep track of books and pages read. Some teachers even have parents/guardians sign the reading logs in order to add some extra authenticity to them. But, all I’ve ever faced is frustration. By the time I am asking my teens to fill out their page count for the day, they are packing up to leave or they’re ready to move on to the next thing. Some of them fake numbers for fear that they are disappointing me (they’re not–for some students, just getting through a few pages is an accomplishment) and some just flatly refuse because they don’t see an authentic connection to anything in their lives, academic or otherwise.
Enter Goodreads (available online, apps for Apple and Android devices)
I wanted to find a way to do reading logs that would reflect an authentic reading life. I have been using Goodreads.com for about three years to keep track of my personal reading. In the past, I’ve shown students how to use it, but have had limited success with it because my students don’t often have access to computers or other devices. But this year, our county is officially becoming a BYOT district, so I think now is the time.
- Join Goodreads yourself before introducing it to students.It’s a pretty fun process: as part of your profile, you choose your reading preferences and books you have read in the past.
- Once you’ve created your reading preferences (which you revisit at any time), Goodreads will recommend titles you might be interested in. And that’s sort of the beauty of it, especially for students who aren’t motivated readers. I can always find a new book to read using this service. Students, too, get excited about titles. Your “to read” bookshelf will grow exponentially. Don’t Panic: embrace the fact that you’ll never read all the books you add, but they are there when you need them
- Bookshelves: All accounts have three basic bookshelves: “read” for books you have read, “to-read” for books you are interested in, and “currently reading” for books you are currently reading. Pretty straightforward, right? But what’s also nice is that you can add as many shelves as you want. I have an additional one for “abandoned” titles.
- Rating and Reviewing books: Both when creating your list of preferences and as you finish books on your “currently reading” shelf, you can rate the books based on a 5-star system. For more depth, you can also review the books you read.
- Groups: You can join or create reading groups. Great for bookclubs and, of course, classes.
Potential Classroom Uses:
- book reviews with an audience beyond the teacher
- students recommending books to other students
- share your reading life with students
- demonstrate reading in a context other than the classroom
- give students the opportunity to communicate with other readers
- participate in a wider community of readers
- update reading progress
Remember how I said I hate reading logs? Well, check this out:
That’s right. Students can use this site to keep track of their reading progress.
Students can update using the website or the app. They can also give quick thoughts about what they are thinking as they read. Observe:
If you create a classroom group, you can check all your students’ progress without collecting a bunch of reading logs or going through binders. This can lead to great mini conferences. “Hey, I noticed you haven’t updated your reading progress in awhile. Is something going on?” or “That was an awesome progress comment you made! Keep up the good work!”
Maybe you prefer the old way, paper and pencil, etc. But I like this because it’s something I actually do. I can, with a clear conscience, demonstrate an authentic reading life.
- Students always ask how they can get the books. They’re always a little disappointed that there aren’t free ebooks immediately available.
- It’s a little time consuming. If you really want them to set up their own accounts, they need email accounts and they need TIME. Also, you have to be willing to allow the students to use their phones or devices to update.
Still, I think it has a lot of potential, and I will update this blog later in the year, once I have had the chance to really experiment with the Group function.
What other applications can you see for using Goodreads.com with students?