For many years I have run a reading program in my English Language Arts classroom. Students know that every class begins with them coming into to class and reading for 10 minutes or so silently before we start the lesson for the day. The requirements for the reading are pretty basic: students are expected to read a certain number of books per year based on their grade level, the book must be a reasonable length (no newspapers or magazines) and after they finish the book, they write a brief (5-10 sentences) review of it.
This year, I decided to use goodreads.com for students to publish their reviews. The advantages seemed obvious: students can access reviews from home to complete them, they can share reviews with each other and they can update their progress as they are reading. So, going all in, in the first month of classes, I had all my students register and ‘friend’ me.
Immediately there were some issues – student forgot passwords, they couldn’t find me to friend, the site slowed to a crawl with the entire class bombarding the server etc. But gradually reviews have started to come in. As students wrote their reviews, I tried to comment on each one – which has led to some interesting exchanges:
I always love it when students catch me on my grammar! What I like best is that the student felt comfortable enough to give me a hard time.
The other thing I really love about goodreads.com is the new recommendations it makes to students once they’ve read a book. This student put it best:
Since this isn’t a book I knew, goodreads.com is doing a better job than I could have at helping this student! Overall, I’m super impressed with the results of using it in my classroom and I can’t wait to see where students take it next.