Sep 10th, 2014 by Cathy Jo Nelson
Just about three years ago, Joyce Valenza shared in her Neverending Search blog the idea that she and Shannon Miller came up with to connect their school library book clubs into a “somewhat virtual book club” for joint discussions. And, she generously invited other TLs to participate. I was one of the readers who responded asking to join in. And, in October 2011, we had our first virtual event. You can read my reflection on our early meetings in my December 2011 blog posting.
We’ve experienced a variety of bumps in the road keeping this going, but I am so proud of my students and of all the students who have participated and shared their insights on reading with other students across the country. It was also especially exciting for all of us to have authors accept our invitations to talk with us. Many thanks to Libba Bray, Lauren Myracle, and Ellen Hopkins for joining us! Regular TL and student participants over the last three years have included Joyce Valenza’s Springfield Township High School in Springfield Township, PA; Shannon Miller’s Van Meter Community Schools in Van Meter, IA; Michelle Luhtala’s New Canaan HS in New Canaan, CT; Colette Cassinelli’s La Salle Catholic College Prep in Milwaukee, OR; Cathy Jo Nelson’s Dorman HS in Roebuck, SC; and Debbie Bobolin’s James Caldwell HS in West Caldwell, NJ.
And, this year, the “Somewhat Virtual Book Club” (#SWVBC) is ready to expand, and we invite everyone interested to join us.
Here’s the plan so far:
- Each monthly meeting will be hosted by a different school, and the students at that school will take ownership of both running the technology and serving as moderators. We TLs all love running things, but we want to empower our students with those skills.
- The books selected will be for a high school audience, but middle schools are welcome to join discussions for any of the books that interest them.
- As with regularly scheduled webinars like TLCafe, you and your students are welcome to be regular, occasional, or even just one-time participants.
- We plan to use Google+ Hangouts as our meeting platform. For the last couple of years, we have been on Blackboard Collaborate, and have really appreciated the stability of that platform, but we want to try software that we know students will have access to on their own. That, way they can leverage what they learn about using the software during our meetings to lead virtual meetings in other contexts. We are aware that Google+ Hangouts is limited to 10 participants. Should we exceed that number at meeting, those unable to join the Hangout can still participate by viewing the live stream and contributing to the chat. And, we are, of course, flexible, and can modify our plans if circumstances call for doing so.
- The tentative schedule for the year thus far includes:
- September 17, 3:30 PM PT/6:30 PM ET: The Fault in Our Stars, hosted by New Canaan HS, New Canaan, CT
- October 8, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: All Our Yesterdays, hosted by Mira Costa HS, Manhattan Beach, CA.
- November 5, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: We Were Liarsby E. Lockhart, hosted by Cambridge HS, Cambridge , MA
- December 3, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: considering Butter by Erin Jade Lange or The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy, hosted by Dorman High School, Roebuck, SC
- January 7, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
- February 11, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book TBA & hosted by La Salle Prep, Milwaukie, OR
- March 11, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
- April 8, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
- May 6, 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
- June 3:00 PM PT/6:00 PMT ET: book & host TBD
- If you are another librarian or club member out there reading this, please contact me if your school would like to grab one of the open sessions. Also, feel free to invite the author to join us if you can.
- Also contact me if you simply want to join in; we’ll set you up with the links for the sessions.
- In addition to this monthly schedule of book discussions, we have several social media platforms we hope to “grow” this year for “any time book” discussions, news, and announcements:
- And, please don’t worry if your club, or “club trying to happen” is small. That’s the benefit of connecting virtually; it gives our students the opportunity to connect with other readers even when you only have a small group at their own school.