Monthly Archives: March 2013

Learnist – a bit like Pinterest and a little bit like Scoop.it

learnist

I might be late to the party, but I’ve just discovered Learnist. It looks a lot like Pinterest so I was excited from the start. It combines a few bests, including images, easy collaboration and sharing and educational content. And, as always, what I really like about it is finding people who take the time to curate quality resources. The excitement is in the lucky dip aspect; I like to search specific things but the unexpected joy of discovering something you didn’t set out to find is what makes this addictive for me.

featuredauthorslearnist

Once you start browsing the categories, you’ll realise how open-ended these are. It’s interesting to see what interests people. I’d like to experiment with Learnist as ‘wider reading’ for students. Wouldn’t it be nice to give them time to browse within a general theme or topic to find something that catches their interest instead of prescribing their focus?

attitudelearnist

Learnist is very user-friendly. As with many social networks, it allows you to browse, rate and comment, as well as find out a little about people and follow them or their boards. Learnist has enough statistics at a glance to give you an idea of whether the board has attracted many viewers or commenters. You can add a suggested site to a board or a tag – very similar to Pinterest and Scoop.it. It’s also easy to share a link with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn or email the link. It would be valuable to create a shared Learnist board with your faculty, or even create a cross-faculty board, or better still, one for the learning literacies we should be embedding across the curriculum, for example, digital citizenship or critical literacies.

Basically, Learnist allows people to learn with and from each other. That’s the way I like to learn. And the mix of text, image, video and audio is a great way to engage learners.

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Creating a reading community – Goodreads

goodreadscontemp

Encouraging young people to read has never been harder – on the one hand. Recess and lunchtimes at our school attest to a full-to-bursting library, but on closer inspection our boys are socialising around the games on their ipads. On the other hand, the technology we sometimes blame for a drop in an interest in literature could also become our saving grace in bringing the passion back in reading.

Photo source: http://pinterest.com/kellianneauthor/books-and-reading/

This year I’m keen to experiment with Goodreads as a platform for reading, sharing and discussing literature. There’s been a decent amount of interest from Year 9 and 10 English teachers, as well as from my team in the library. So, why am I so passionate about Goodreads?

Goodreads is the best of social media. I think it can work very effectively in schools. Just as blogging provides students with a real audience, peer as well as global, so does the Goodreads platform extend reading from a solitary experience to one which can be shared with a whole community. While the Premier’s Reading Challenge is a positive step in encouraging young people to read, I’m looking at more than the completion of a limited list of recommended reading, I’m interested in a platform where students can see what their peers are reading, where they can have a conversation around their reading.

Photo source: http://www.mybookcorner.com.au/articles/798-davide-cali-15-good-reasons-to-read-a-book.html

Reading can be much more than completing a book; within Goodreads it can involve:

  • rating
  • designating a shelf
  • reading reviews
  • writing reviews
  • connecting with classmates to see what they’re reading, rating, reviewing
  • connecting with broader community for the same class community for a text studied – the whole unit can take place within the class group
  • easily finding similar books in the genre, author or a series
  • following people to see what they’re reading, eg students could get ideas from each other or follow their teacher’s list to broaden their reading scope
  • following people to see their ratings and reviews
  • joining or creating discussions
  • following authors and becoming a fan to see their biography, see what books they’ve written, their series, what they’re reading, their latest activity eg. reviews/discussions; sending them a message, comparing your reading tastes to theirs; discovering their blogs and booktrailers/videos
  • creating your own groups or joining public ones

Melbourne High School is full of boys who respond to being stretched and challenged. They are often reading at a sophistocated level and appreciate the opportunity to read beyond a generic list for their age group. Goodreads allows students to browse eclectic group topics, for example, the group for The Year of Reading Proust or Old Norse Literature.
The virtual Book shelves default to “read”, “currently reading” and “to-read.” Students can add more individualized shelves to their profile, organising books by genre, reading challenge, books loved or loathed, by discussion group, and more. The possibilities for teachers are varied. I can imagine rich discussion of texts including all students in a way not possible in class. Social media connects students to each other, and beyond the classroom; it creates opportunities for real conversations, for many literacies, for digital citizenship.

Some teachers have said that they enjoy the competition aspect of Premier’s Reading Challenge. Goodreads provides this also –

goodreadschallenge
If you like the competitive aspect of a reading challenge, you can tailor this challenge to suit you either in the form of a class challenge, a year level challenge, or whatever you like. You could create your own list of books, different levels of difficulty, selection of genres, or you could leave it open.
Students will feel at home in the Facebook-like functioning of Goodreads. They are so used to being connected, it makes more sense to them and is more engaging than a traditional classroom where they don’t often share their learning. It’s fun and it really does encourage reading.

I’m looking forward to seeing how teachers customise Goodreads to their classes and teaching styles. I’m hoping we’ll bring our students back to a love of literature, ideas, good stories, powerful characters, clever plots and controversial issues in the form of books.

Of course, there is more than one way to engage our students in reading. As I’ve mentioned before, students will be enriched by Judith Way’s high-quality Readers’ Cup program. In any case, reading promotion in schools will be most successful when you engage students in a relational way, providing opportunities for them to have conversations about how they felt or what they thought about a book.

Photo source: http://pinterest.com/kellianneauthor/books-and-reading/

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Filed under Books, reading