Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Setting Up A Classroom: A How To Guide

In the past I have discussed the merits of the social networking site for use in the classroom. I am currently teaching 4th grade and am using the site with my class. The goodreads environment is easy to monitor even with young students, and provides a social (web 2.0) place for sharing book reviews and book shelves. It is a good site for students to build a library of read books and books they would like to read, and using the classroom environment gives the students many options to expand on what is being read. So here is how to get started:

1. Your students need e-mail addresses. Some districts give these out for students, and if so you can use those (you don't need to log in to the e-mail accounts, they're just needed to sign up). If your district does not give accounts, you can either have students use their own e-mail accounts (appropriate more in the upper grade levels), or you can go to and create monitored accounts for all of your students. If you need to go to epals, just do the following:

SIGNING UP FOR AN E-PALS CLASSROOM ACCOUNT: Head off to Epals and click on the join now button. When you have finished filling out the information, sign up and then log in. You can then go to monitored accounts and create e-mails for your students. What I did was I gave the same beginning to each students address (in my case it was the abbreviation for my school), then I put each students name, first and last, into the form box. Epals then makes their addresses automatically, so once you've filled it all out, you're set.

Once your students have e-mail addresses, you're ready to go to Goodreads. If you haven't registered for your own account, do that first by clicking the register button at the top of the page.

Once you're registered, log in. From the options at the top of the page, start by clicking on GROUPS.

Now, follow these steps to make a group for your classroom:

1. On the page that comes up, in small letters, you will find a "create a group" link. Click it.

2. Fill out the form that comes up, giving your group a name and short description. You don't have to put rules in unless you want to. For topic, I suggest student groups / academic groups. Also, select the group type according to your needs and the level of privacy you would like to have. The group for my class is set to private. Once it's all filled out, click the create button at the bottom.

3. Once you're in the page that you created for your class, the basic items of interest are the discussion board, currently reading list, and the bookshelves for upcoming reads and books we've read. It's easy to add books to these lists. Simply click on the list you would like to add a book to, click add a book, search for it, and then make sure you give it a starting date you will begin reading it. To set a new discussion board topic, simply click the appropriate link and type in the information as you would like to see it.

FINALLY, you need to invite your students or have them request entry into the group. As an elementary school teacher, I invite the students in. This is a little more time consuming, because they need Goodreads accounts. What I suggest is having students each click the register button, type in the information as you give it to them (the e-mail addresses, either their own or the one you gave them). Once they're registered, they can fix their information, add a picture, and search for you as a friend.

Once each student has added you as a friend, you can go to the invite people link under the home page for the group, and add them through the friends link. Do this after you have confirmed your entire class as friends, then all you have to do is check them off in your friends list to add them. From here, you will have a group page set up, and each student will have access. Now from there, you need to show them how to do book reviews and discussion postings, and that will be the topic of my next post. Sorry if this was a little confusing, but with some basic internet skills, you can figure it out.