I'll let this speak for itself. Personally, I think it's pretty darned cool!
in mind. I have used this tool successfully with other teachers and students to get everyone engaged in a discussion topic. It is the facebook-like interface that allows this tool to transcend other web 2.0 tools. The teacher must structure the conversation for the students, but little time is wasted in teaching students how to sign up or use the tool. This works great when the students are all on one topic or are reading the same book (either whole-class, or in lit circle groups).
What continued to stump me was what to do to engage the students as a community of readers who might all be reading different books. Furthermore, I wanted the experience to be one that students might learn a skill that could continue beyond the requirements of their 10th grade English class.
I went home and googled around a bit. The answer came to me in a nifty social book sharing site called Shelfari http://shelfari.com. At our next meeting, the three of us signed up for accounts (you need to create an amazon.com
account, but no personal information is required for shelfari) and played around a bit with the interface to see if it would suit the teacher's and the librarian's requirements. The signup is a bit tricky, so I made a step-by-step cheat sheet with screen shots for the students to follow. We set some parameters on what the students would be required to do: 1. Sign up for an account using first name and last initial only. 2. Create and post an avatar as the profile photo. Set their location as Our Town, PA (Trying to protect identity here.) 3. Start by adding five books they've already read to their shelf. Also, they would add three books they wanted to read, and any books they are currently reading. 4. "Friend" all of the other members of the class, their teacher, and the librarian.
Talk about transformation! The signup was a breeze. The avatar creation was simple (we used MyAvatarEditor<http://
Poof! Instant community of readers!
The librarian required the students to "friend" her on Shelfari. As she explained to them, she'd be looking at their "Books I Plan to Read" shelves for ideas of books to purchase for the HS library collection. Because this site is directly linked to amazon.com, she can quickly access professional reviews, bindings, and prices.
We had a difficult time getting the kids to return the laptops and leave at the end of the period. I was just on my Shelfari account a few moments ago and many of the students have friend requested me. Once I approve them, they will be able to see what I am reading and will receive a news feed about all of the latest updates I and their friends have made to our accounts. There's even a feature that suggests books you might like based on your reading history, which becomes more refined as you add more books to your shelves.
The teacher has a rubric that she will use to rate the students' use of Shelfari. She is currently teaching them how to write an informative book review, and she will evaluate their reviews by looking at what they've written on Shelfari. Talk about an authentic learning experience...with an authentic audience for their work.
I bet they're even on this site today...on their day off!!!
Just had to share. This is an example of 21st teaching and learning at its finest. I hope you can find a way to try it with your teachers.