#MyInnovativeYear: Wikibooks and the Great Summer Book Study

So I like to read.  I also like to learn new stuff.  I even like helping others learn new stuff.  How can I do all three and still work on my tan this summer?
A BOOK STUDY!!!! (loud cheers and screaming from the crowd)

Our principal had me start a blog for our teachers last summer and we spent a little time writing and comments on various topics.  The blog has been sitting dormant all school year and it occurred to me we could be doing something collaborative with it.  At first I thought, how about I start a book CLUB.  I participated in one last summer with teachers from around the state; it was interesting, the book wasn’t too expensive, but I didn’t really think I LEARNED anything from the experience.  On reflection, that may have been because the book and discussion were more for teachers just beginning their connected journey, where I’m already pretty far along in the process.  I thought about that as I considered reading collaboratively with my peers this summer.

As noted, I participated in a CLUB and I want to facilitate a STUDY.  Not.the.same.thing.  In a book club, a book is chosen, everyone reads it, and it is discussed. Depending on the group, their temperaments and time, it can be a very enjoyable experience.  A book STUDY is different.  In a study, the book is chosen, very specific goals regarding what outcomes are wanted from reading the book are established, and depending on the number of people in the group and a few other factors, creating and reflecting on what’s being learned is the focus of the adventure.

So, I want to facilitate a book study.  I’ve created a Google Form to ask the teachers in the building if they’d even be interested in studying together this summer. Taking an hour or so a week out of our “busy” schedules during the summer isn’t asking much, is it?  I’m also providing choice in this, as opposed to just choosing a book and forcing it on everyone.  Finally, I’ve decided we’ll read it Jigsaw cooperative method of reading with groups of teachers tackling different parts of the book and reporting back to the whole group.  I have two great ways to get teachers to participate: 1) offer professional growth points that they can use for their annual learning and; 2) provide the book for FREE.  Enter Wikibooks.  

Don’t ask me how I found this.  I think I was googling something and the Wikibook for it came up, I don’t know.  All I know is, as a member of the same group of resources as Wikipedia, I’ve found a gold mine of resources. All books in this library can be edited, which, if you’re familiar with Wikipedia, CAN prove to be an issue.  However, if you find a book that has edits held for review before changes are made, you just might find some great reading material out there.  Some books are considered “featured” books because of substantial content, good formatting, and approval of the Wikibook community at large.  Other books are part of Open Educational Resources (OER), which provides freely accessible, openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, and assessing as well as for research purposes.1

Just enter the name of a book or a keyword and a listing of possible matches will appear. Go to the resource of your choice and just begin reading.  I’m currently previewing the two books I’m presenting to the teachers for consideration, and they’re both very well written, informative, and easy to navigate.  This is going to be a great experience.

I’ll be dusting off the old blog next week, doing some marketing and surveying and getting approvals for PG points. I”ll make suggestions to the teachers to begin building their own blogs to show off work we’ll be doing and letting the powers that be “downtown”what we’re doing.  If this goes well and we all learn from each other, who knows, maybe we’ll do it NEXT summer!

What will YOU be doing this summer to grow and learn?  Remember, it doesn’t have to be something professional; just go LEARN something!


1″Open Educational Resources.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

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