I previously posted this on Just Write Baby! last night. It contains my reflections about being in a virtual book club.
I am involved with promoting, participating, and organizing a Face Book private book club. The idea came to me to organize such a book study from being in a private Face Book weightloss challenge last year. I really enjoyed being a part of a virtual group. Some of the members meet face to face too. Having the virtual postings and responding to each other's posts have allowed us to develop a rapport and sense of a reading community. In one of the book clubs, I missed the first meeting due to a horrid stomach virus. My colleague and I worked on this together, so she went ahead and held the meeting. I wasn't able to meet some of the member face to face. I meet them on Face Book. We responded to each other's posts. I got to know them this way first and then when I met them face to face, it was a rather cool thing. I felt as if I had gotten to know them better. Of course, I had in a risk free environment where people share their thoughts about what we are reading.
The idea also emanated from my experience of responding on Blackboard when I attended the Sam Houston State Writing Project. Most of the teachers involved in this class couldn't meet face to face the first week of June because some were still teaching in their classrooms. So as to not lose any time, our professor Dr. Nancy Votteler had us respond on Blackboard to each other's introductory posts. We had to respond at least once or more, if we wanted. I found this to be a great ice breaker. When I met them face to face, it took less time to build rapport with each other.
That's when I the idea hit me to fuse the two ideas of the virtual with Face Book. I did this same style of face to face interactions and Face Book with Jeff Anderson's books Mechanically Inclined and Everyday Editing. I conducted a full day video study of Jeff Anderson with a group of 4th grade teachers and instructional coaches. I asked them if they wanted to continue the journey with me in a face to face and Face Book kind of way. They agreed and we had this three month journey. I asked Jeff to join us and he agreed. It was so fun to have him join us. We had some great discussions and teachers were thrilled to get to meet the author virtually.
I carried the idea over to this book study. I asked both authors to join us as we are joining in the research of these authors. They graciously have accepted the offer. It has been great. Many of the teachers who joined me on the last Face Book adventure with Jeff Anderson also were enthusiasticaly ready to participate again. Still others heard about it and joined up. I also have been recruiting with little one on one conversations.
Today, I advertised a new book study with a campus and administration. It was during a staff development when I plugged the book, the contents, and modeled some of the strategies. I then shared with them the possibility of a book study. 17 out of 20 third through fifth gradet teachers want to join! I am so pumped about this.
I think this is where we could be going. Bring the virtual to face to face. Some teachers cannot come due to after school commitments. In the past, we would have not been able to continue with them. Now with both options on the table, more can contribute and get the benefits of shared understand and thought! We can negociate meaning face to face and virtually. Virtually works in a world that is very busy with Houston traffic and time constraints. You can have a book study with your morning coffee or at midnight with some popcorn in your pjs. The only thing that matters is that it going on and it is meaningful! Amazing!