Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Goodreads.com in the Classroom: A Slam Dunk Resource

About five months ago, I posted about the possibility of using Goodreads.com in the classroom in a post titled Goodreads: Another Classroom Resource Possibility. Once you're on Goodreads, it's addictive, similar in social networking terms to things like Facebook and Myspace. However, Goodreads is focused solely around literature experiences. What I did was set up a private classroom group under my profile, and set up accounts for my students. I monitor their accounts closely because they're registered under e-mail accounts that I control in the classroom (I did this through epals.com, they offer free e-mail for classrooms that can be teacher monitored).

On the surface, the Goodreads experience isn't anything unbelievable. You have a profile, and you write reviews and give ratings to books you've read. But that's just the beginning. You can also connect with your friends, show them your bookshelf, see theirs, do trivia, write poetry or your own book, and even meet the authors of the books you've read. Within the classroom group, you can have ongoing discussions, give short quizzes, do polls, just let students discuss books with one another, and get recommendations for books based on your history of reading and ratings.

It's a valuable tool to use for your class. Students can use it to keep a log of what they've read, to express themselves to their classmates, and most importantly, to get excited about literature. I recommend this site, it is a little work to set up, but well worth the effort.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I use Goodreads in my classroom and have tremendously positive experiences. I do much of what Nanci Atwell describes there, rather than in paper journals. While I don't control the email accounts, I haven't had trouble with it. Yet.

I'll friend you.

The Buss said...

I'd love to hear more of your ideas. I try to cruise around on Goodreads when I can and check out other classrooms on there (that aren't set to private). My class is set to private because they're still 10-11 years old, and I keep fearing for safety and privacy. Online journals are something that I've used on and off, the difficulty being that there's not equal access among my class. Some students have the internet at home, but at least a fourth of my class doesn't, so their only opportunity is at school, and I try to split computer time equally among everyone when they're there. I've managed to get 8 computers running in the class, but time still becomes an issue. Please share some ideas with me, I'm always looking for ways to improve the whole experience.

Anonymous said...

I should have known trouble would come as soon as I wrote that. I teach high school English, mostly Juniors. I've set up a 'group' at Goodreads for each of my classes, and within each group I've run discussions, posted responses to literature, and had kids keep track of vocabulary.

Yesterday, we were using a mobile computer lab and I didn't properly log off Goodreads. One of my lovely children opened up the computer I'd been using, saw my account, and promptly deleted it. Hilarious. I had 300+ books read, many reviews, 150+ firends. All gone with five key strokes. Don't know yet if some sort of restoration is possible, but I'm hopeful.

The Buss said...

My heart goes out to you, I've heard similar stories locally. Our tech people always remind us to log off when we're away from the computer, and now, I will use your cautionary tale of horror to remind myself yet again. I hope this can be restored by the Goodreads people, any updates?

Anonymous said...

They have said "we'll look into it," which is better than 'no-way' but I've been three days without my account, and it isn't pleasant. I will not make that mistake again - this is one of those painful lessons.

The Buss said...

"We'll look into it" is usually tech speak for "you're screwed." Well, Goodreads is easy enough to use, have you started over yet?

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm back and running. They restored me to about 90% of where I'd been, which is far better than I expected. I just sent you a friend request through Goodreads.

Anonymous said...

It seems like this discussion has concluded a while ago, but I hope someone can help. I'm looking to use Goodreads in my classroom (university undergrads in Europe) and would love to have a resource that explains it step-by-step. Does anyone know of such a thing?