Google Apps in Education Conference – Using Tech to Foster Literary Nerddom

13 Jul

I’m spending the weekend at the Google Apps in Education Conference, and it is wild.  I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but there’s nothing like a tech conference to break down that illusion pretty thoroughly.

I did have to laugh at this picture shared by the keynote:


It’s exciting stuff, even if the sketchy wi-fi at Sequoia High School makes things challenging.  There’s nothing like watching a room full of people trying to get on their macbooks/ipads/iphones/chromebooks at the same time, desperately searching for wireless, to make you laugh.

I wanted to share Megan Ellis’s session on Creating a Culture of Literary Nerds.  If you’ve read my posts on using music videos and movie trailers in the classroom, you know I’m a fan of using technology to teach reading skills and strategies.  Megan’s session dealt more specifically on using technology (both online and off) to help create enthusiasm around reading and to create a community of readers.

She had some great ideas:

  • Online Reading Logs – Megan teaches middle school, and she has her students log completed books in a Google Form that then populates a spreadsheet that everyone in the class can see.  Advantages are that more students fill out the log, no one can lose the log (the bane of my life, lost paperwork) and since the logs are public, students can keep track of what their classmates are reading and use it to help them pick their next books.  My students log their reading daily, and since I teach elementary, I wouldn’t want to get rid of that check-in and the chance for me to analyze how their reading rate is progressing, but I think the idea of an online completed books page is awesome.
  • – I just got on goodreads myself a few months ago–I was skeptical about why I needed a site to keep track of books, but I’m a full convert now.  I never realized how many books I want to read that I forget about, or how many great books I read that I never recommend because I can’t remember the title.  Goodreads solves that problem.  Megan has her students on goodreads, and their online completed book logs link to a goodreads review.  The result?  The class has access to tons of written book reviews that can help them decide what to read next.
  • Book Trailers – Publishers are putting more and more quick book trailers on youtube.  “Book Buzzing” about a novel is a great way to get kids interested in it, but I haven’t read close to all the books in my library, and faking your way through a book talk is pretty painful (and I’m pretty sure the kids can tell.)  Pulling up trailers will get kids excited about books, and the students who troll youtube endlessly after school just may start looking up books!  Caveat: there are a lot of bad book trailers on line.  It’s a good idea to check them out before you press play.
  • Student Created Book Trailers – Have your own students make book trailers and then play them for the class!  Another way to reinforce your literacy community.
  • – If you run around most of your reading workshop helping kids find books, this is for you.  It’s a website that shows books that are similar in genre/content/style to a book the child loves.  It’s a site in progress, so I expect they’ll continue to add books and grow as time goes on.

I think the most important message of Megan’s session was to create a community of readers — sharing their reading lives with each other — as a way to increase engagement, volume, and variety of reading.

Thanks for the great session Megan!

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