15 September 2014

Google Community Reader Response

I'm not a big fan of quizzes to check assigned reading completion. I'll use Kahoot to refresh and get an idea of who has fallen behind or misunderstood from time to time, but as long as I don't assign points based on the quiz, they'll generally tell me where they are with the reading. As for credit, well, it generally shows in the unit essay what students skipped around or used SparkNotes.

For A Raisin in the Sun, I had students keep director's post-it notes, five directions for the characters per scene for reader's theater the next day. It was a bit messy, and a family emergency interrupted the flow, but I, for one, liked it better than the quizzes.

For An Ordinary Man, the memoir we're starting this week, though, post-its and Kahoots seem a little too tedious and haphazard. And it would take a lot of maneuvering to get those strategies to connect to the deep issues I really want to touch on.

So I set up a Google Community to address each of the quotes that spoke to me on my first read through. I had highlighted quotes on my Kindle app and added notes for questions I could ask students to help them connect the reading to their lives. I copied these quotes and question notes to a Google Doc broken up by chapter so that I could copy them onto separate topic sections in the Google Community and let students choose which of them spoke to them.
  1. Create a Google Community with the title of the book and/or movie you are focusing on.
  2. Upload a picture of the book for the Community picture and add a tagline about the book and movie.
  3. Make a discussion topic for each chapter with the due date in the topic titles.
  4. Make a discussion topic for each day you will be viewing the movie in class.
  5. Add discussion topics for important focal points of the unit. (I made a topic each for Setting and Narration, the two literary elements that will be the focus of our film/book study for this unit.)
  6. Add links to due date calendars, class blogs, or other pages students can refer to for more information.
  7. Save the community and invite all of the students from your class (incidentally, they didn't have Google Plus set up on their school accounts, so it was handy that I had their personal addresses from working with this particular group for the past 2 years.)
  8. Add directions for posting in the "About this community" section, for example:
    Choose 5 prompts to respond to with at least 3 sentences each for each night's reading. If the reading is over 2 chapters, be sure to choose prompts from both.    
  9. Open the first chapter's discussion topic and add the LAST question from that chapter for your first post.
  10. Add posts in reverse order up to the first question from the first chapter ending with a post asking for an overall reflection on the chapter (perhaps with special emphasis on an important theme or literary element).
I'm going to add posts day by day from the Google Doc as we proceed through the chapters so as not to confuse things too much, but students need only poke the topic with the day's date to see their choices and respond.

If these students had better access, I might make this homework, but as it is, reading assignments are already at least 20-30 pages a night, so this will be our warmup for the duration of the unit.

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