Using book clubs in the classroom
Insideadog’s book clubs are ideal for use in a teaching context. This page will offer advice and suggestion on using these tools in your class.
Book Clubs – the basics
An online book club is a collaborative space for sharing ideas and observations about books. Once students have registered on the site they can join book clubs.
Book clubs come in two basic types, open and closed. Open book clubs are open to any registered member of the site, whereas closed book clubs require an invitation from the founder of the club.
Once you have joined a book club, you can make posts or comment on the posts of others.
Comments on posts can be viewed by clicking on the post title. They do not appear on the front page of the club.
Posts and comments will need to be moderated by the site administrators. If you contact us through the contact form, we can make book club members trusted automatically.
Modelling online behaviour
As students spend more of their time in online environments, it becomes increasingly important that schools play a part supporting them in participating actively and appropriately.
Setting up a Closed book club for your class should be the first step. This will allow all of your students to share their writing in a relatively protected space accessible only to those you allow access. This structure allows students to become familiar with the conventions and etiquette of posting online in a regulated but shared space before being exposed to a truly open forum. More confident students should be encouraged to engage with the larger community of the open clubs.
Open clubs allow students to share their interests and passions with a broader audience, and to move to a larger scale of online interaction. The open book clubs will contain a mixture of students from a range of schools, as well as other interested readers taking part outside of school. This authentic audience allows them to experience both sharing their writing and responding to the work of others. This sense of having an “actual” audience for their writing can be a great motivating factor for students.
Class based book clubs form an excellent basis for running literature circles in your class or throughout your school. See our page on Literature Circles [link: literature circles] for more details.
Book Clubs for Assessment and reporting
Book clubs can serve as an important part of assessment and reporting for English and Literature classes at a range of year levels. Participation can easily be monitored and reported upon by accessing the students’ user pages. Posts and comments should be rated on their use of appropriate language and their content.
Book clubs for teachers
Closed book clubs can also be set up specifically for teachers, both within a school and between different schools. Like students’ clubs, they can be based on a particular text, or on a theme. They are great as a place to share resources, ideas, and even lesson and unit plans. They also provide a place for teachers to collaborate and to get new ideas and perspectives, perhaps even find new books to teach.
Teacher book clubs, as well as being used to share lesson plans and discuss themes, could be used plan collaborative work between classes or even between schools on a particular book or a particular theme. Teachers could coordinate an inter-class or inter-school book club (closed or open) catering to a particular interest or reading group.
User pages for assessment and reporting
Students’ user pages are a very valuable resource for teachers. They can play a major role in assessment and reporting of outcomes across several Domains. Monitoring a students’ user page gives you instant access to all of their activity on insideadog in one location. This makes it very simple to see what students have written and produced. This tracking of reading can include class tests, wider reading, recreational reading, and other specialist reading lists such as the Premier's Reading Challenge
Use or adapt the Book Clubs worksheet (attachment below) to support student understanding of the purpose and uses of book clubs.
Students plan their own book club. Their plan should encompass:
- The topic for their club – is it a specific book/series, or a theme?
- Why are you interested in this book club?
- Membership – open or closed? Why?
- Who would you invite to join your club if you could? Think big – this could be anyone form the author to celebrities. Why would you invite those people?
- What will you discuss? Come up with at least three discussion topics.
- Students can actually establish these clubs on the site. If they do, monitoring and reflecting on membership and usage of the club can form a separate assignment in itself
Investigate which public clubs are the largest. Why are they popular? What content do they include? Can you learn anything from this for a book club of your own?
Publicise your book clubs. What strategies will you use? Posters? Publicity events? Social media?
If you have contact with a Primary school, arrange for your students to organise and run in-class book clubs for primary students.
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