Monday, October 12, 2009


Oh, novel study.

So far this year, I have not commissioned my Secondary English students to study a homogenous novel.  Instead, I let them choose their own novel.  They are supposed to read a chapter for homework after every class, then comment on it on their blogs.

This experiment has had mixed results so far.  About half the students are completing the journal entries regularly; the others are not.  I wonder if the students who are not participating are affected by the lack of structure associated with this task.  Would they produce more if I followed a more traditional model of assigning a novel along with accompanying worksheet?  Or would they abstain anyways?

For those students who are participating, I fear that their summaries might become stale after awhile.

I found a website that I hope might make the task more dynamic.

Shelfari lets users catalogue the books they have read and are reading. are multitudinous ways to comment on and categorize your books.  The interface is very nice, with a bookshelf that can be embedded on your blog.  I created my own bookshelf and embedded it on this blog.

I think that the inherent nature of Shelfari; that is, collecting read books, might encourage my students to read.

Each book has a wiki-style page, called “Details.”  Here, anybody can make comments in various categories.  (Summary, Cast of Characters, Memorable Quotes, etc.)  I will ask my students to write a comment on the “Details” page after every class. 

I was hoping that Shelfari would provide a place for private comments, but this does not appear to be the case.  I have my hesitations about asking the students to comment on a wiki page; but then again, maybe it is a good way to encourage authentic writing.

There are two websites similar to Shelfari, and they allow for private comments.  They are Readernaut and Librarything.  However, Shelfari has the most aesthetic interface, so I will stick with it.


Paul said...

Before you choose Shelfari, you should check out OurShelf. It let's you form groups and have comments within the group. Groups can be private too, so you could have your students participate in a private threaded discussion.
You can also have students shelved the book they're reading, and comment on it directly, but like Shelfari, OurShelf doesn't make these private.

Check out my shelf and browse around a little. I'd love to know what you think:

CEO and Co-founder

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