Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book clubs are nice, but...

Book clubs are nice - but you have to find a club, buy a book (it's not even necessarily your first pick), go to meetings (even when you are dead tired after a long day) and take your turn buying snacks.

Now imagine reading a book online (your choice and possibly free) with a group of people all passionately interested in the same topic, making margin comments and adding stickies to the same book, chatting in real time with people from your group whenever you are reading (in the middle of the night when you can't sleep but have a burning question about why the heroine opened the door). Interested? Go to the Book Glutton.

But book clubs are social, you say. It's the friendly faces, the glass of wine, the cheese tray, the laugher. Yes. And the online world is social, too. Just different - and it meets different needs. Think, for example, about the how we could use this tool in classrooms where we've made a commitment to teaching to diversity. You are setting up for Literature Circles in your grade 9 classroom and you have a gifted reader. She wants to read a classic, but there isn't anyone else to partner her with for discussions. You contact other teachers in your district or province or the world - and you find two other students with similar interests. You and their teachers give them the choices: King Lear or Tale of Two Cities or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or Room with a View or Crime and Punishment (I'm just choosing off the top of my head; the classics are freely available). Your students read, mark text, ask questions, research together using Diigo and Google Docs, and co-create a presentation using Presentit. For your gifted reader, it is a rich and rewarding experience: she meets other students with similar interests and feels challenged, stimulated and excited about learning.

We have extraordinary tools for diversity at our fingertips. We just need to learn how we can use them and how we can work together to leverage their power.

Image: Prattman's photostream on Flickr

1 comment:

  1. Wow, nice looking blog. I like the twitter update widget.

    Since you are a bit of a book glutton yourself I thought you'd be interested that Google has reached a groundbreaking settlement on a lawsuit with the authors guild and a bunch of others. Now you can search the full text of 7 million books through google!

    I've started my own library and for each book you can see ratings, reviews, related books, and where you can get it (amazon, chapters.indigo, etc.) I have a calculus book I'm interested in, and when I clicked on the 'find a library' link it took the postal code from my wireless to tell me the book is at the Vancouver Public Library and the UBC Library if I wanted a print copy to read. It looks like google has partnered with Worldcat, which claims to be the world's largest network of library content and services, to provide this service.