Saturday, July 13, 2013

On-line Book Clubs help to Engage the Reluctant Reader

Blending traditional book clubs with Wiki 2.0 technology is an excellent strategy to engage reluctant readers. Read my experiences in the classroom when I took the traditional book club to a multimedia format!

Book Clubs/Literature Circles
Allowing students to create reading groups is first strategy that I employed. Students formed interest oriented literature circles also known as book cubs. The clubs are socially formed but they have an academic objective. Specific genres of literature were read and the main points of the book were discussed in the form of posts to the wiki page. Students were also given time during the day to meet and discuss their novels. I occasionally provided a question or a focus for the clubs to discuss. For example, “compare and contrast two or more characters in your novel”. I fostered student reading motivation by giving them a sense of ownership and autonomy. Allowing students to pick their own novels and to choose the members of the clubs helped to increase their reading motivation.

The social appeal of the book club was its driving force; interest oriented book clubs give students an opportunity to work with classmates that have similar literary interests.


The term 'wiki' is derived from the Hawaiian phrase, wiki-wiki, which means quick.  A wiki is a collaborative web site whose content can be edited by visitors to the site, allowing users to easily create and edit web pages collaboratively (Chao, 2007).  In essence, a wiki is a simplification of the process of creating HTML web pages in combination with a system that records each individual change that occurs over time.

The book club members had one common goal, posting their literary insights to the wiki. The common goal persuaded the reluctant readers to read more. The reluctant readers felt compelled to read because they want to be regarded as a contributing member to their club. I routinely checked the volume of posts that each club submitted; students were made aware that they were held accountable at all times.The discussion board is the main component of the wiki that I used--it is an electronic web page within the wiki that allows students to create unique avatars; under these avatars, students posted summaries, reflections, and questions about readings and other academic topics. My overall role was that of facilitator. I interacted with students as I saw fit and provided scaffolding when necessary. The discussion board was created based on the constructivists approach to learning (Wertsch 1997). My plan was for the discussion boards on the wiki-page to be areas where students constructed their own understanding. Open-ended questions were routinely posted and students were encouraged to communicate and learn from each other.

The wiki page/online book club was effective because students published their thoughts for a real audience, their classmates. Students gained a sense of self-efficacy because they were contributing to a constantly evolving document. The wiki page is an unrestrictive environment, it is not punitive, and all students, regardless of their academic ability, had a “voice” that is valued.

Here are links that you can use to create your own online book clubs:

Book Club Registration Form

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