Melodi Belei December 8, 2006
Literature Circles Wiki, Interactive Book Review Tutorial,
and Book Blogs
Final Project Plan
Audience and Need
The English 10 students at Kankakee Valley High School (KVHS) read one book each
semester. The books are read in Literature Circles (LC’s). The LC philosophy gives
students choice in reading, and the opportunity to read, discuss, question, and create in
groups that are interested in the same novel.
A typical class of thirty may be reading up to five different books, but there may be only
one group of students reading any given book. The addition of wikis and blogs to the LC
units, will give students the opportunity to view the thoughts and ideas of students in
classes other than their own, and an opportunity to speak about their book in a
controlled environment. Often quiet students offer written ideas that they would be
afraid to articulate in class due to a fear of speaking, and many students think of a
profound idea to share after the opportunity to discuss it has expired.
“Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our
educational system was designed to teach.” Marc Prensky had me at “Our” because it is
something I firmly believe. Teaching with a staff of approximately 70 teachers, most
over the age of 50, many of us don’t have the skills to change our ways. I’m hoping that
being on the inside and promoting what I am learning this semester and next I will be an
instrument of that change.
Prensky’s quotes from the “Digital Immigrants” such as myself, are words are hear
spoken weekly in the lounge. “My students just don’t _____ like they used to, “I can’t
get them to _____ or to _____.” Sadly, I have heard myself say things like these. This
article frightened me and I decided that I really needed to make the most of this class. I
have learned a lot and need to learn more, but more importantly I need to try these ideas
on a consistent basis.
A KVHS survey of student graduates revealed that students felt they were lacking in
technology skills. A freshman is expected to be able to navigate web sites to register for
classes, pay tuition, turn in assignment, and check grades. Even our honor students
were not comfortable working in these forums. Students need to know how to do more
than search a topic through Google. Introducing wikis and blogs along with interactives
will give students more experience.
Technology Effectiveness and Issues
Adding one main wiki as a starting point and individual blogs for each book title is the
best way to control the usage for 160 students within our technological realm. KVHS is a
rural school and its middle income status often makes it ineligible for grant money.
Since the school’s technology is limited and there are often not enough working
computers in the lab to accommodate all students in a class, posting to a blog in their LC
groups through links from a wiki will allow students to post from home, or at school in
the media center and during their study time in the Writing Lab.
Having never administered any type of electronic resource, choosing a blog allows
previewing of student added material before it is made public. KVHS is a very
conservative school and according to notes from the last school board meeting is even considering a uniform, school-wide policy to “…deal with students who do go to My
Space.” As one of the only teachers in my building using a blog or wiki, it is essential that
students only post appropriate materials to avoid further fears about the Internet and its possible corruption of the students.
Luckily, everything went well and this assignment has given me the encouragement to continue adding technology. My observation of the whole lesson is below.
December 6, 2006 a.m.
I am going to try out my final project today on my English 10 students. I am a bit nervous. It is easier to create a wonderful project in theory than it is to actually pull one off. I know this from my ten years of teaching experience.
I was going to try it out with all five classes of sophomores, but decided to try it with the class with the highest average and the class with the lowest average. I also decided to have them work in
their literature circles instead of writing individual book reviews. Individual postings would be
too many to sift through before our Friday deadline.
I will not make changes to the site until after it is graded, but I do need to figure out how to post my rubric because it would not allow me to upload it to the Book Blog from Oncourse. I may
simply attach it to my plan. Today I will just hand out a hardcopy to my students.
December 6, 2006 p.m.
Third hour went wonderfully! It’s a small morning class of 23 students and also the class with the
highest overall average grade. It went something like this:
? Tell students we are going to the writing lab
? Walk to the writing lab
? Pass out a strip of paper with the wiki address to each lit circle ? Oops, forgot strips of paper, back to class, pass out strips of paper ? Explain that we will be going to two different Internet locations, a wiki and a book blog ? Remind them to be sure they read the instructions so they will know how to write their book
? All students log in successfully and read the instructions
? Two groups question me about what to do; they really just need affirmation that they are
doing the right thing
? Only half of the groups noticed the Scholastic Book Review tutorial, but one announcement
clarified it and they went back to look at it
? One student was able to write the review and get it posted
? Everyone else will post on Friday
? I am wonderful!
Fifth hour was not wonderful. It is an afternoon class of 28 students with the lowest overall
average grade. Fifth hour was challenging. It went something like this:
? Tell students we are going to the writing lab
? Walk to the writing lab
? Pass out a strip of paper with the wiki address to each lit circle
? I remember the paper strips this time
? Explain that we will be going to two different Internet locations, a wiki and a book blog
? Remind them to be sure they read the instructions so they will know how to write their book
? Half of the students log in successfully but most do not read the instructions; I help the
unsuccessful get to the wikki page
? All groups question me about what to do; they really have no idea what to do, and do not want
to read the instructions
? Only a few of the groups noticed the Scholastic Book Review tutorial, and the ones that did
were working on Step Five in the Scholastic Interactive Tutorial writing their book review; it
states in the directions NOT to do Step Five
? Not one student was able to write the review or get it posted
? Everyone was able to get logged on and to realize what they are supposed to accomplish
? I am exhausted!
Since all classes are not as self-sufficient as 3rd hour, I will need to make the following
adjustments to the introduction of the Book Review assignment. These are all things that are
written in the assignment but missed by some of the students.
1. Tell students we will be writing a Book Review
2. Explain that there are three separate sites: The Lit Circles Wiki, the Book Blog, and the
Scholastic Book Review Tutorial
3. Make certain that they realize they should not go to Step Five in the Scholastic Book
Review Tutorial, but instead write the book review in a Word or Star Office document and
then copy and post it to the Book Blog.
4. Change the color or font on the Scholastic Book Review Tutorial so that it is more easily
seen by the students
5. Overall the assignment is a success and a few changes will make it even better. The good
news is that most of those changes are in my directions/behavior and that is easily remedied
6. It was quite apparent that most of my students are not familiar with blogs and wikis, so I feel
good about introducing them to a new form of technology and I actually was more confident
than I had anticipated. Many of them were impressed that I had designed the whole thing on
my own. Just wait until I teach them how to build a wiki instead of doing a research paper
December 8, 2006
Today went well with both classes, although some of my students did not finish and will not get
their blogs posted in time. I was also hoping to have one of the other classes respond to them, but
we don’t have time with final exams so close. I will most definitely keep this as an integral part of
our Lit Circles Unit. The other English teacher also thought it was a great addition to our unit and
we’ll sit down after break and figure out exactly how we can fit it into our unit. I found just a few
more things today that will make it run more smoothly.
1. The Book Review Rubric should be made available online for reference and absent students,
but it is cheaper to run copies off on the copy machine than to print them with the printer, so
I will continue to give students copies.
2. Some students don’t want to give their email addresses (we do not have school wide email
accounts) so I told them to put my IUPUI address and had one put a fake address and that
also works. It does not matter. It still posts to the blog.
Book Review Rubric Author/title (underlined or italicized) Here is a copy of the rubric: are mentioned in first few sentences. 1 2 3 4
Setting is discussed
How does it add to the book?
Does it help to set the mood or tone? 1 2 3 4
Main character(s) is/are discussed.
Do they seem real, believable? 1 2 3 4
Plot is discussed, but not given away 1 2 3 4
Paragraphs have topic sentences,
indentations, and discuss only one topic 1 2 3 4
What is the reader supposed to learn? 1 2 3 4
Which point of view is used? How does it
add to the book? 1 2 3 4
Actual passages are used to support opinion 1 2 3 4
Your opinion of the book is clear and fair 1 2 3 4
Does info about the author explain anything
about the story? How does their life influence
their writing? 1 2 3 4
Points earned _____/40=_____
Adapted from a Rodman Philbrick assignment located
Indiana Standards for English 10
? 10.1.1 Understand technical Vocabulary in subject area reading ? 10.2.3 Demonstrate use of sophisticated technology by following technical directions ? 10.3.9 Explain how voice and choice of narrator affect characterization and the tone,
plot, and credibility of a text
? 10.3.12 Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues
of its historical period
? 10.4.1 Discuss ideas for writing with classmates, teachers, and other writers and develop
drafts alone and collaboratively
? 10.4.7 Integrate quotations and citations into a written text while maintaining the flow
? 10.4.10 Review, evaluate, revise, edit and proofread writing using an editing checklist
? 10.4.11 Apply criteria developed by self and others to evaluate the mechanics and content
? 10.5.2 Write responses to literature that demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the
significant ideas of literary works
? 10.6.3 Produce legible work that shows accurate spelling and correct use of the
conventions of punctuation and capitalization
Prensky, Marc. Digital “Natives, Digital Immigrants.” NCB University Press 9.5
Philbrick, Rodman. “Write a Book Review.” Scholastic. 2006.
http://teacher.scholastic.com/wrItewIt/bookrev/index.html (8 Dec. 2006).