Imagine students so engrossed in a topic that nothing stops them from reading, discussing, and thinking about it. Tablets, smartphones, or notebook computers in tow, students discuss the assigned readings they completed beforehand and exchange ideas or opinions about each section read. The digital book club is a 21st-century twist on its traditional predecessor, and have the potential to be an effective tool for student learning. These are five keys you want to consider when forming your clubs this year:
1. Decide on a structure and set boundaries. How often will students meet? Will they read books at home or during certain times at school? How will you manage students who are absent, behind in readings, or ahead in readings? Will groups form their own standards or will you give a set of expectations for them to follow? Where will groups meet in the classroom? Will students use school technology, or will they bring their own devices? These general questions help in the planning phase of preparing for digital book clubs.
2. Get books and form groups. Books can be based on a central theme or subject, such as biographies of famous people or books written by a certain author, or they can be anything that students enjoy reading. Big Universe has many books on a number of topics from which you can choose at different reading levels, so you can tailor the book selections to your students’ needs. Book clubs typically are self-selected for the best effect, though other grouping methods (ie. random grouping and reading level) may work as well. Small groups of no more than five help to keep the group intimate and allows everyone the space to actively contribute to the book club discussion.
3. Determine how students should record and share their own thinking. Graphic organizers, guiding questions, meeting outlines, journals and more are great starters. Assigning roles on a per-book or rotating basis helps students take responsibility for their learning and serve as an accountability measure for them. Many digital books allow students to highlight things that are important to them and make notes as well. Whatever you choose—or not, make sure to model your expectations and then follow through by monitoring the groups closely in the beginning stages, so that you can make adjustments as needed based on what is best for your students.
4. Assess student learning while they read. In addition to observing students interacting with the text and with one another, how would you assess the effectiveness of your digital book clubs? Will students complete assessment activities leading up to the book club discussions or will they do a culminating project only? Exit tickets provides snapshots of student learning on the day of Big Universe has quizzes based on key ideas, craft and structure, or integration of knowledge and content, providing real-time feedback on student progress. As far as a culminating project, depending on the skills targeted in the group discussions, students can create a digital video of their own highlighting the various components of a story or character traits or make an animated cartoon interpreting scenes from the story. Students could then present their work to the class so that students learn from their peers about the books they chose to read.
As with any other form of reading, digital book clubs are meant to be fun and an effective way of using technology in our reading classrooms. These tips should help make your digital book clubs a success!
Are there any other keys that should be considered when implementing digital book clubs? Please share in the comments section below.