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Suggestions & Questions > Grabbing another book-related niche: Young Adult Lit reviews

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message 1: by Keith (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Keith Mukai (ebanzai) | 3 comments I just spent a few weeks observing 8th grade classes in a Middle School in Chicago. The kids have a required 40-min reading time to start each day. Each homeroom has a mini-library of books for the kids to choose from (maybe 200 books in each class; sounds like a lot but it's not a great selection).

The problem is that the kids just look at the thickness, the covers, and how big the print is. They don't actually care about the content or whether or not they might actually like the book.

For a lot (most?) of these kids it seems like they just don't believe that reading can be interesting or fun or entertaining.

What I think they need is a peer review system where 8th graders review the books they read and either recommend or not recommend them to each other. When it comes time to choose a new book, the kids can look up the reviews and see if other 8th graders liked it or not.

So far this isn't any different from what you've already got in place.

But I think kids need a subsection of the site that is solely dedicated to *their* reviews of the books they read. An 8th grader won't care that I loved "A Wrinkle in Time". But if 200 other 8th graders say it's good, they might be persuaded.

And it's obviously problemmatic to try to attract young kids to register on a social networking site. So they have different needs in terms of how they access and interact with the site.

I think ideally a teacher would register herself *as a teacher* and then her students would then write reviews under her account (e.g. "Paul" wrote a review as part of Mrs. Shield's virtual 8th grade classroom, but Paul need not be registered himself).

Then the students can see the reviews written by their classmates (or schoolmates if it's done at a school-wide level), but all that content is also aggregated together across all students.

The hope then is that the students will make better book choices by considering other 8th graders' opinions about a possible selection.

In order to maintain quality of content, I'd have the teachers approve student reviews before they're released to the general public (essentially the teacher is the admin for her virtual classroom's contributions). This could even turn into a good "read-write-interact online" exercise for reading classrooms.

I've seen a few small sites that try to incorporate student reviews and keep them separate, but they're pretty unknown and insignificant as far as I can tell.

You've already got 70% of the necessary parts built. It would still take work to implement, but I think it's an interesting and potentially very useful niche to grab.

Email or give me a call if you want to talk more about it or if you need more convincing.

oh and belated happy Thanksgiving!


message 2: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Laura | 68 comments I work in a school that goes K-12, and I know that this idea would not fly at most of my peer schools. Why? Filtering. In order for a school to obtain federal funding via the "e-rate" program, they must filter. Social networking sites are usually filtered and the rationale (we want them to see reviews) may not be enough to convince the IT departments to change the filter.

Some schools have started internal blogs, and many catalogs are moving to allow comments. My Middle School students have opportunities to book-talk to each other and many of them have convinced their friends to read thicker, or more challenging books.

While on the surface it seems to be a good idea, the filtering issue, the need for the (already overworked) teacher or librarian to do all the posting - I just don't see it working.

Sorry if that's Scrooge-like, but it's just my opinion as someone in the trenches.


message 3: by Otis, Chief Goodreader (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Otis Chandler | 4184 comments Mod
Keith-dawg,

We get 1 request a month in our customer service queue for that exact feature. And there are already quite a few classroom's using the groups feature to approximate it. I'm not sure about the 'filtering problem', but maybe if we allowed each school's network to be hosted on a separate url that could be avoided.

In any event, its something we've been considering - but as you mentioned its quite a bit of work. Want to help us build it? :)


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