6 Tips for Teachers to Use Goodreads in the Classroom
Are you a teacher looking for a new way to inspire a love of book reading in your students? Or have you already introduced Goodreads to your students and are interested in learning how other teachers are using it into their classroom? We've got your cheat sheet of teacher tips here!
A Fun and Easy Way to Track Reading
Beth Hughes, an English teacher at Wakefield Memorial High School in Massachusetts, asks her students to log into Goodreads weekly to update their reading progress to encourage accountability.
"Many of my students love to watch their own progress, updating their reading every time they read, which, for us, is in class daily and often spins into reading at home. And I love encouraging them by liking their status updates," Hughes says.
To add to that sense of accomplishment, Goodreads automatically sends members a personalized "Your Year of Books" graphic in December with a summary of the books read, pages read, and other fun facts. For an example, see Emma Watson's year of books. It's like an annual reading report card that students can share with others.
One of the most rewarding benefits of Goodreads is seeing students recommend books to each other. Jennifer Roberts, English department chair and digital teacher leader at Point Loma High in San Diego, California, and author of co-author of Power Up: Making the Shift to 1:1 Teaching and Learning, wrote a blog post a few years ago where she talked about her use of Goodreads.
In the post, she wrote: "Often I see students who are light readers friending students who are heavy readers. One student, who has read three books this week and has rated 88 books, is friends with five peers who have rated just three to 15 books each. She is recommending books to them and they are picking them up."
Set a Reading Challenge
Krystal Gagen, a high school librarian and geography teacher in Brisbane, Australia, asks students to set a goal in the Goodreads Reading Challenge to encourage them to read more and more books each year.
"One of our 'year 7' students last year set herself a goal of reading 100 books and she smashed that by managing 110! This year she has set herself the same goal and is well on her way to smashing it again," says Gagen.
Private Discussion Groups
Teachers can also extend the classroom discussion by setting up a private group. You can start a discussion by posing a kick-off question, run a poll, and share videos which provide additional context for a book.
"It's a great way for students to start learning how to verbally express their thoughts about their favorite (or least favorite) books in a safe environment. Having the time to really think about their responses and reply via typed text gives them the opportunity to form well-argued responses," says Gagen.
Don't just limit yourself to discussions about the books you are studying. You can also engage your students with conversations about the book they wish more people would read, the books they would want with them if they were stranded on a desert island, and who their favorite authors are.
Gagen says that a Goodreads group is a great place for students to learn how to interact professionally online in a safe environment. She advises setting rules for your online space before getting started.
"Make sure you model a response to a question, or a post so that your students know what you expect and then let them explore!" she said.
Write Book Reviews
Teachers can also have their students write book reviews on Goodreads as part of their assignments. Jennifer Roberts encourages her students to look at an example review from a previous student, and then submit a link to their reviews in a Google Form. (You can find her class instructions here
Share Your Own Love of Reading!
"It's one of the few [social media] platforms where I will openly connect with [students]. I comment on their progress and they on mine. They will send me a message or a recommendation and it's a great way to encourage their love of reading," Gagen says. "They also love the ability to connect with their classmates, and even friends in older year levels. This ability to connect digitally with older students has been really valuable for our advanced readers in year 7 and 8. It means that they can talk with the older students about books even though they may not get to see them at school."
"It's one of the foundations of my teacher librarian practices," the Australian teacher says of Goodreads. "I use it religiously to track my own reading progress for the year, and to connect not only with my students, but with my personal friends, colleagues, and new professional contacts."
Getting Started on Goodreads
1.) Ask your students to create a Goodreads account—membership is free. Remember they need to be at least 13 years old, as this is the minimum age to sign up. Recommend that students sign up with their first name and last initial, and instruct them to set their profiles to viewable only by friends on the Settings tab of their Account Settings.
2.) Create your own private group and invite your students to it. Add the book(s) you are studying to the group book shelf and create some initial discussion topics.
3.) If you want to have your students set a reading goal, ask them to set their goal in the Goodreads Reading Challenge [link].
4.) Have your students search for and rate 10 to 20 of their favorite books or books they have read recently. Make sure they are adding them to their Read shelf too. TIP: A really fun way to do this is to have your students download the Goodreads app on their smartphone and then use the scanner to scan covers of books on shelves in your classroom, the school library, or at home.
5.) Educate them on where their discussion is public and private. Comments on another student's review will be public (all reviews are public). Comments inside your private group will only be seen by you and the other students in your class.
6.) Ask them to add the book you are studying to their Currently Reading shelf. They will then be able to update progress as they read. (Be sure to choose whether you are reading in print or digitally so you can update by page number or % read.)
7.) If you have questions, please email email@example.com and our team will be happy to help!
For more ideas from teachers, see these posts:
Real-World Tasks in the ELA Classroom: Goodreads
10 Clever Ways to Use Goodreads in the Classroom
What have we missed? Do you have additional suggestions on how to use Goodreads in the classroom and inspire a love of reading with students? Are you a teacher who uses Goodreads with students?
Check out more recent blogs:
Great Children's Books for Young History Buffs
Rick Riordan's Books to Hook Middle School Readers
How to Encourage Kids to Read (Plus Some Modern Children's Classics)
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