Friday 5: Reasons to Use Goodreads

Full confession, I’ve been active on Goodreads since 2007.  It is my longest social media relationship, and I’m still madly in love. First, it served as a reminder about books I wanted to read and those I’d already read. Then I realized it was a great way to connect to students and to use in the classroom.

1. You and your students can publish reviews publicly.  Having an authentic audience can help students shape writing more carefully.
2. You can create shelves (essentially lists) for yourself or your students.  For example, I have a poetry shelf, a play shelf, a shelf for books I’ve taught.  I also have a 100 books for my students to read before they graduate shelf. You can assign students to make shelves, too, which could be an interesting assignment. They could create a shelf for a literary character: what might be on Holden Caulfield’s bookshelf?
3.The quotes section for each book is so much fun–and you or your students could add quotes that you think should be on the list. This is also a great resource for writing papers–if you have students like quotes as you read a book, they can look back and use them for analysis.
4. When I first went onto Goodreads, I realized I hadn’t been reading as much as I wanted to, so I was able to set a goal for myself.  The option of having a goal for each year is helpful to keep me on track, and turn off the TV and read.
5. The updates feed with my friends’ and students’ books has been a great place to find books to read.  For example, my former students, who are now in college, are often reading books that I then put on my to-read list.  I can also follow authors and see what they are reading.

Find me on Goodreads

Image below shows some of my favorite books & shelves

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Posted by Kate,  VP Secondary PCTELA

Friday 5: Reasons to Use Goodreads

Goodreads Challenge: Balancing Reading & Writing in the New Year

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I resolve to balance my reading and my writing. In past years, I’ve made reading a priority, setting my Goodreads challenge at 75 or even 100 books for the year. This year, I’ve decided to make a moderate challenge for myself in the reading area so I can balance that out by doing more writing–poetry, professional writing, personal writing, and even some fiction.

One of the motivators for me was a recent tweet from the Boston Globe citing the likelihood of winning powerball (1 in 292 million) versus the likelihood of writing a NYT bestseller (1 in 221). I don’t need to write a bestseller, thank you very much, I’d just like to write something a few other people want to read.

So here’s to a new year filled with plenty of reading and writing opportunities!

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Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA

Goodreads Challenge: Balancing Reading & Writing in the New Year

Friday Five: Top Five Summer Professional Development Activities

Summer is coming, and that means time for teachers to relax in the sun and spend their massive salaries while eating bonbons and taking extravagant vacations. Ha! You all know the truth–that summer is the time for us to rework curriculum, find new ideas, and take part in professional development.  There are many valuable ways to energize for the next school year. Here are our top five–what’s one you suggest?

1.NEH Summer Seminars and Workshops.  I know the deadline for these has passed, but attending one of these in Michigan about African Literature was a powerful experience for me as a teacher and a learner.  I still keep in touch with people I met at this eight years ago.  You should consider applying to one of these for the summer of 2015.  I originally heard about this opportunity from a colleague and every fall when they are announced, I eagerly comb through the options posted: 

2. Attend a Conference. While NCTE’s Annual Convention doesn’t occur until July, they host other conferences like the CEL Institute on Critical Issues.  This year, the focus is:  Assessment, July 17-19, 2014, at Elmhust College, in Elmhurst, Illinois  There’s also the Annual AP Conference in Philadelphia July 9-13 at the Convention Center.

3. Lunch with Colleagues. During the year, social events can be ways for us to vent and work through current issues with students and curriculum.  But during the summer, social events can energize us and allow us to launch into the fall with exciting new ideas. There’s nothing better than meeting for lunch on a weekday with another teacher and having one of those conversations that blossoms into an idea for a new unit or new activity.  

4.Twitter. While we may be out of the classroom in the summer, twitter can allow us to connect with others all year round, by reading through twitter talks, following hashtags, or following other educators or organizations.

*Top 50 Elementary Teachers on Twitter  

*Project Based Learning Teachers 

*Twitter for Teachers: Best Tweeters & Hashtags for Educators 

*PCTELA on Twitter

5. Read all the books! All year students, teachers, and friends recommend books to me.  The Summer is my opportunity to catch up on my reading.  Some weeks I’ll read a book a day if I can. can be a great website to track books and see what friends are reading. I also have a booklist for my students and a list of books I’ve taught and books I want to read. 


posted by Kate, VP Secondary k1a9t7e5 @ gmail

Friday Five: Top Five Summer Professional Development Activities