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The Little Book Clubs that Could

Virginia McMillan

As the professional learning chair for the Kawartha Pine Ridge Occasional Teacher Local, I am always trying to find new opportunities for our members. The online book club is one of these: last year we had three online book clubs and we will do more this year.

Why do the club online? There are many reasons, including travel time and distances, flexibility, home commitments, and weather. All of these were issues for our members. Someone has to be in charge of organizing the book club, but in the club everyone is equal.

As the organizer I looked after the advertising, obtaining the books, deciding on the day and time, and finding a good location for discussions.

I thought we had a good online location for the club – a free whiteboard – but only two of us could get onto the site at one time. We used another online location and were having a super discussion when we were abruptly kicked off because of a time limit.

Our first book was Classroom Management that Works  by Robert Marzano. Readings and questions were assigned, we stayed on topic, and we accomplished all we set out to do.  Our main challenge was our discussion location, but we all felt the club was successful as we helped each other consider issues and gain new deas to put in our arsenal of classroom management strategies.

In January, I advertised once more and three different members decided join me in the club. We chose The Arts Go to School,  edited by David Booth and Masayuki Hachiya. We made it a five-week club; members were in charge of one art each. The ideas we developed for music, visual arts, dance, drama, and media literacy were great and provided a marvellous boost to our teaching tools.

The biggest difference this time was our chat location: by using the technique of inviting each other to one location, Google chat allowed all four of us to get on at the same time. For the next club, four people were interested in discussing Making Math Happen in the Primary Years, published by ETFO. We all liked the ideas of math journals, trying to incorporate more literature, and promoting more math,talk. We really improved our communications by having a Google site where we could share and respond to each other’s ideas.

The guidelines from the ETFO book club website were very user friendly and easy to adapt. I strongly recommend online book clubs – we had fun exploring different ideas and making new ideas our own.