Social Media Duh: English Teacher (me) Discovers Goodreads

I have started getting all of my students signed up for Goodreads, a website that allows you to track what you’ve read, what you want to read, and what you’re currently reading. The train of thought that led to this stroke of brilliance went as follows:

  1. I really want my students to read more on their own. Some do, some don’t.
  2. Last time I tried to get students to read on their own, I made them fill out reading logs.
  3. I really got sick of printing those.
  4. The kids really hated filling those out. So much so that many just… didn’t.
  5. There’s gotta be a better way.
  6. Hmmm….
  7. Well, while I ponder that, I’ll go catch up on reading for next week’s lessons.
  8. 20 minutes later, distracted from The Awakening by the need for a snack: I should enter this on Goodreads, I don’t think I’ve done that yet.
  9. OMG.

When I signed up for Goodreads last semester, I didn’t think I would use it. Goodreads cons: the interface isn’t entirely intuitive, some people log regularly while others don’t, and I still can’t figure out how to tell Goodreads to stop posting my activity to Facebook (anyone know how to do this?). But there are some serious Goodreads pros for a teacher who only sees her students for about 45 minutes a week, too. Pros: it’s digital, which means no more printing logs; it’s digital, so I can keep track of students’ activities even when I’m not seeing them every day; it’s digital, so they can all be “friends” with each other and keep each other accountable; and it’s digital, so they can have discussions even though they never actually have sessions together with me (since most of our lessons are one-on-one). A non-digital pro: it’s a great way to keep a log of all you’ve read. I can see students enjoying seeing their lists of “read” books grow!

We have a group called “Liz’s Tutoring Students.” I need to come up with a better name. From what I can tell, students can have book discussions and add books to the group list from our group page. They can also do this maintenance on their home pages, and I’m not sure how the two overlap. I’m also not sure if there’s a way for me to keep track of “minutes read” or “pages read”… still trying to figure that one out. Would love to hear stories about awesome ways you’ve used Goodreads, or any advice or warnings you have if this is something you’ve done with students before. Or, if you know of other wonderful sites to support students’ independent reading, send them along!