En la Clase: Virtual Book Discussions

I have to give Myra at the Gathering Books Blog the credit for the idea of this post.  I know I’ve mentioned the Gathering Books Blog before. It’s great for teachers. They have an unbelievable variety of resources, and so I visit it regularly.  Recently, they had a post on their first Virtual Book Discussion for a children’s book group.  Myra posted questions about the monthly book that the children are reading, and then the children posted their answers in the blog comments.  As I read through the post and the children’s comments I got so excited thinking about what a cool idea this would be to implement in a classroom.

For many students it would be something novel–which always gets them engaged.  It would also be another way of introducing technology into the classroom, while encouraging literacy skills.  I thought, I have to write a post on this, encouraging teachers to use this idea. I even found myself wishing I was still teaching, so that I could start my own classroom reading blog.  Then, reality sunk in.  I realized that if I were still teaching, this would be one of those ideas I’d jump right in to, get started, and then run out of time to actually implement.  Finishing the blog, posting the questions, or replying to comments would all end up buried at the bottom of my ‘school to do’ list.  If this was my reality, then most likely it is the reality of the majority of teachers out there

I started thinking about how I could help.  Then, it occurred to me–teachers could use our blog as their classroom reading blog!  We’ve posted on a variety of middle or high school novels.  If you are a teacher and want your students to read any of our highlighted books, I will happily host a virtual discussion of any of them. Then, the students can comment on the book via our blog here, and I will reply to keep the conversation going.  I realize that many of our highlighted books are for older grades, so if you teach a younger group of students, our novels may not work, even for read aloud.  If there is a picture book or other children’s book that you’d like to use in your class for a virtual book discussion, I’d be more than happy to read it, then post questions for your students.  Our focus here at Vamos a Leer is Latin America, so the book would have to be related to that in some way.  We’ve got a great list of possibilities in our section on the Américas Award.

So that is my offer to any teacher out there interested in implementing some sort of virtual reading discussion, but short on time to create their own virtual space.  As I can’t always guarantee I’ll have time to read longer books outside of our own monthly featured novels, it would be best if you used those to assign to your students.  With a little advance notice, any children’s or picture book shouldn’t be a problem.  If there are specific questions you’d like your students to answer, let me know and I’ll post them, or I can use some of my own.  It would be like having virtual reading pen pals!

There are numerous ways you could use the idea of a virtual book discussion in your classroom.  You could require individual students to post, small groups work together to answer questions or write comments and then post, or the whole class creates their questions or comments together as a large group activity.  Perhaps, one group of students is responsible for creating the questions for a section of the book, while another group answers.

If you’d like to take me up on my offer, leave me a comment below and we can continue to discuss more via email! Or, if you already use something like this, please share your ideas and experience! I’d love to hear about it.

12 thoughts on “En la Clase: Virtual Book Discussions

  1. This is such a fantastic idea! I will be ‘in charge’ of Literacy next year and would love to try this! As you say whether we manage to keep it up remains to be seen, but I’m going to give it a go!

    • I’m so glad you like the idea too! If you want any help, especially if we can offer our blog as your ‘virtual’ space, let me know! I’m very excited to hear how it goes.

  2. Hi there Katrina, I am so glad that our virtual book club discussion has inspired you to come up with such an ingenious idea! Thank you so much for your pingback and for your very kind words about our blog. I know what you mean about teachers not having enough time despite their best intentions. I know that in some Singapore classrooms there’s a school portal, like a virtual blackboard where teachers can use a variety of resources such as blogs, discussion forum, virtual chats and such that are available, but very few ever have the energy and the time to actually utilize them. You’re right also that our actively-running blogs may be of service to them in that respect, as it would be one less thing to manage. Great ideas! 🙂 it could even be a research project for us. 🙂

    • The school portal sounds very interesting, I haven’t heard about anything like that here in New Mexico–I’ll have to check into that, but like you said, teachers still might not have the time or energy to make use of them. It will be interesting to see if using actively running blogs is anymore helpful or encouraging to teachers. . .it would be a fun research project!

  3. I am reading Cajas de Cartón by Francisco Jiménez to my fifth grade class. Could they write to you in Spanish? (title in English is The Circuit)

    • Absolutely! I’d love that. I will work on setting up a special page or post for our ‘discussions’. Let me know if you have certain questions that you’d like me to ask, or if you just want them to start the conversation by sharing their thoughts. We can discuss more via email if you prefer. Very excited about this! The Circuit is our featured book for November and I’m just starting it right now–so, perfect timing.

  4. Great idea! My high school students will read We Were Here by Matt de la Peña. He will be visiting our school in December, so they will read it before his talk. I have just started planning lessons for the book; I’d love to incorporate something online. Let me know if he is an author you’d consider.

    • We would definitely consider him. I haven’t read his work yet, but it’s on my list. We highlighted Mexican Whiteboy earlier this month, and it looked great. When would you want to start the online part of your unit plan? I should have time in the next month (maybe 2 weeks) to read the book. How exciting that he’s going to be at your school!! Also, if you’re interested in putting your lesson plans for We Were Here up on line let us know–you could do a guest post on our blog, or post on your blog and we’ll do a post highlighting and linking to your blog post.

      • Hi, this all sounds great. I’m in the early phases of planning, so I haven’t mapped much out yet. School starts soon, so I better get on it! I will be in touch when I have the lessons and timeline planned.

      • Sounds great. Just let me know whenever you have your plans mapped out and how you’d like to use the online component. In the meantime, I’ll get the book and start reading,I’m looking forward to it. Good luck with the beginning of your school year–and enjoy the last parts of summer break!

  5. Hello there! I am very excited about the new line up of books! I am looking forward to virtual discussions and hopefully some evenings with the group at Bookworks!


    • We’re so glad you like our book selection!! We’re looking forward to a new year of discussions too. We’d love for you to join us at our book group meeting–hope to see you you there! Thanks for the comment–we’ve got you entered in our drawing now!

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