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.