I've started using GoodReads more lately, if nothing else as a way of keeping a record of the books I read (memory failing, kept starting to read and then realising I knew what was going to happen next!) but I don't often write a review. I have more sympathy now for young people reluctant to write about the book they have just read, typical conversation:
"Miss that was a great book but it scared me so much I couldn't sleep last night!"
"Wow it's wonderful that it gripped you that much - would you write a review for me to go on the library page so that others can see how good it is?"
"Ah............well you see Miss it wasn't that good and I'm a bit busy this break......homework and stuff y'know.....maybe later......Oh is that the lesson bell? sorry Miss catch you later!!"
I was always disappointed that I couldn't get the boys to write reviews so I had to get them to recommend books by stealth, here are some ideas I used/have thought of since:
Wordclouds - using a generator like Wordle or Tagxedo ask students to create a wordcloud with keywords from the book that can be used for display , either physical or online. If they don't mention the character names (as in the one I prepared earlier of my favourite book, above) you could use them as a competition to see if anyone can guess all of the titles.
Video - I have found that even the most shy kids love videoing themselves so getting them to do a piece to camera about their reading experiences is often not that hard a task. You could use an iDevice for this , or mini camcorder or you could let them use their own mobile phones (I know subversive isn't it?!). The videos can be used just as they are or the students could use Animoto or Movie Maker to polish them up. The films can then be shown on plasmas or whiteboards around the school. If the kids are shy and don't want to show their faces (Personally I hate seeing my double chins on screen!!) they could prepare an audio file instead perhaps using Audioboo or any other recorder you use.
Comic - Writing might not excite your pupils but perhaps they would be more enthusiastic if you asked them to create a review in the form of a comic? My generator of choice is ToonDoo but there are of course many others as well as great apps you could use (Toontastic, ComicBook).
Blogging - Yes ok blogging is still writing but somehow it seems to escape the ennui that most kids have towards putting views into words. A school or library book blog with reviews from students and staff could be a fantastic idea, if you could ask authors to write a quick guest blog or even comment occasionally even better. I would use Edublogs but it is just one of many - I wouldn't focus on using a blog facility on a VLE however because this limits your audience to just your school which I think makes the whole experience far too closed in.
Pinterest - Having a review board that you can advertise would be great, just a few lines of text needed with each book cover, genre boards would work well (perhaps a job for your pupil library assistants if you have any?)
Just a few ideas but I hope they might help get some peer recommendations going, very powerful to have friends rave about a book, I know it always influences me - although I don't always agree with them, it's good to break out of your own genre boundaries sometimes.
My blog is a collection of thoughts and I hope you will learn something about me from the ramblings as well as finding some useful links. I'm Bev Humphrey and I'm a Literacy, School Libraries and Technology Consultant. I am self employed so views expressed are solely my own.
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