Whether it’s communal or solitary, reading has a significant impact on children and the way they view the world. Regardless of our age, or the size of the group, discussions about books usually transition into conversations regarding the subject. With schools having moved their curriculums online, many extra-curricular activities including book clubs have suffered. If you have students who have been affected by a learning loss due to the pandemic, you must consider setting up a virtual book club.
How to Guide K-12 Students in a Virtual Book Club
1. Send your students an introductory video message
Before starting with your virtual book club, it is crucial to introduce yourself to the students and make them feel comfortable with your presence. Send them a short introductory video message to let them know who will be guiding them in the days to come. Tell them a little about yourself, and give them a glimpse into your style of leading a book club so they know what to expect when they start.
2. Breaking the ice
Students are relative strangers in an online reading group. Not many have the confidence to participate freely without being faced with peer pressure. Knowing each other by name will help children develop the confidence needed to share their opinions and ideas with the group. In your very first session, make sure you dedicate some time for introductions. You could ask the kids to reveal their names and other information that is not very personal, such as their favourite books or movies. Doing so will help you create an online community and help the students develop a sense of familiarity, thereby making it more interesting and engaging for the whole group.
3. Promote student-to-student discussions
When students discuss their ideas with teachers, there is always some hesitation on the students’ part. Conversations between students, however, are more personal and engaging. Promote student-to-student discussions by creating smaller groups within your virtual book club. They can start by sharing their findings in groups before you ask them to share their ideas individually. You could also ask students to write down their answers to questions before reading them out, as this will make them more confident when sharing their ideas.
4. Ask questions to promote self-reflection
During your online reading group session, you can help your students better understand the story by connecting it to their own experiences. When you ask them questions regarding the story, do it in such a way that it leads to self-reflection among the students. For instance, you can ask them questions about which character they think they may befriend, or which character they can associate with, or what they learnt from the story. Simple questions like these enable students to reflect on themselves, thereby helping them get the most out of your online reading group.
5. Acknowledge participation
Some students are more shy and reserved than others. While you encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions, make sure you acknowledge their participation by offering positive comments on their answers. You could prolong the conversation with the shier kids, but do in a manner such that they don’t feel uncomfortable. The stakes are low in virtual book clubs, but kids may feel pressurized regardless. Their experiences in an online reading group will help them learn and understand better, so encourage them to practice self-reflection and take healthy risks.
An online reading group can help students get better at reading and comprehension, which in turn will help them develop proficiency in English and find career options they love. There are plenty of other benefits of virtual book clubs , and following these simple tips can go a long way towards making your virtual book club a success.