Saturday, January 08, 2011

Book clubbing and blogging

My friend and Poetry Sister Kelly R. Fineman has been blogging about Pride and Prejudice in the month of January. She is taking a chapter a day to read, reflect, and discuss it in her blog Writing & Ruminating. In each post she summarizes the action and dialog, gives background of the cultural and linguistic complexities of the time, and offers witty, articulate and pointed analysis of the personalities and social relationships brilliantly developed by Jane Austin. Kelly is one of my favorite book bloggers because she is so insightful, intelligent and down right funny. A long time ago, before I filled my house up with children, I used to have a book club that met once a month to read, talk, laugh and eat together as friends. Kelly's blog is like that and I am loving it.

I knew she was starting the series on January first and I wanted to join in. I was wondering where on earth my old copy of Pride & Prejudice had got to and if I in fact still had a copy around somewhere.  So I was sitting in Micky D's while the boys ran around the play place. I had decided to use that couple minutes to stretch my learning about what tricks my new iPod touch could do, and I suddenly realized I had wifi and an app called "iBooks". I crowed with delight when I found I could download a free copy of P & P while sitting right there nibbling on french fries! Two minutes later I was into chapter one and already wondering about what Kelly would be posting in the next several weeks. Friends, this is what I love about the 21st c. I am back in a book club and it's mobile!!! Yee Haw!!

The screen on the iPod is a little small but the text can be enlarged easily. It is well lit and I can scroll with my thumbs, flick on a bookmark, and read on the go, in bed or while I'm waiting for the kids to finish up their piano lessons. I love carrying so many books in my pocket and jumping online to discuss them with folks who are as clever and entertaining as Kelly and her host of commentators. The iBook app is free and easily downloaded. Many thousands of books in the public domain are free, including classics like Pride & Prejudice, the Bible, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit, which I also quickly added to my ebook library.

There is also an app that reads the text aloud to you, so that struggling readers or audio learners can hear the text while following the written word. (It's called vBookz and it is available from the iTunes app store for a small price. There may be other good apps that do that for free, I haven't tried it yet. Anyone?) The public libraries around here have huge ebook collections that are easily accessed and borrowed from with wifi on the go. If you have a mobile device or ebook reader please leave a comment and share how you are using it for learning and collaborating in education. I am so eager to explore the uses of these flexible and fascinating tools!

I was telling a friend at school, who happens to be the 8th grade English teacher, about how much I was enjoying re-reading Pride & Prejudice this way, and she got excited about sharing it with her students. They are starting new book clubs in class and her kids have blogs as a class writing assignment. She is going to use Kelly's blog as an example to them and encourage them to think about using their blogs in their book clubs. Commenting on each other's reading & writing is such a great way to connect learning the skills with creative thought while applying digital literacies to real life learning & relating. Too Cool!!

I have started to get more interested in high school and college libraries, as I learn about jobs in academic and upper school libraries, and I am wondering how the social media tools, ebooks, and other online resources are being used by more advanced students. I am reading an ebook in conjunction with reading a blog that is using  a wide variety of online reference resources, including video segments of the movie version of the story and incorporating reader's comments and questions. What a powerful way to explore the depth of the literary work!

Anyone reading here that can give some examples of how you are using ebooks and blogging for student learning?

How have you incorporated digital technologies and resources to advance your own learning?

What are you seeing students do as strategies to advance their own understanding with the new tools available?


MotherReader said...

I follow Kelly's posts too, but was annoyed with myself for forgetting to pick up the book at the library - not once, but twice - this week. Maybe I'll check out the free downloads, as I never thought of that.

Kelly really helps me understand the Austen books as I never did before -with so much more context.

Lindsay N. Currie said...

This is an excellent post and I'm so glad I popped on over from the comment challenge! I find that one thing technology has really changed for me is my ability to read what and when I would like. With three small children, running to the bookstore or library isn't always feasible and having a kindle that cna provide the downloaded book for me in less than sixty seconds is as close to magic as you can get LOL!

Bibliovore said...

Hopped over here from MR's comment challenge and found this post! About my favorite book of all time!! That I haven't read in . . . oh. Uhoh.

I have a hard time with extended reading on the iPod, but I have P&P on my Nook, which is perfection. I also like to listen to it, because it forces me to slow down. My usual speed of reading is breakneck, and, well, Austen doesn't lend herself kindly to breakneck. You don't get half the jokes.

I'm a public librarian and I always drift around the idea of having a kids' after-school book club. I've done it once and the kids got a lot out of it. It is so validating for them to not only be reading as a group but also airing their opinions and not being graded on them. Maybe I'll do it again.

Pen and Ink said...

What do you think about the Jane Austin plus "monster" books?
Zombie Sea Monster

Angela Craft said...

Thanks for leaving feedback about my new comments system on my blog!

I'm not a big Austen fan so I haven't been following this particular read along, but I absolutely love how blogs can function as a book club! Whether it's lots of people following along with the same book, or connecting with people who are reading different books but all in the same genre, blogs can be wonderful for developing communities of people that are passionate about a shared subject even if they may never meet in real life!