Building a Community of Readers with Destiny and Biblionasium
by Jennifer Lewis, Media Specialist at Indian Knoll Elementary School in Canton, Georgia
What kind of readers do we want our students to be? Some colleagues and I were discussing this at our state library organization’s conference in June of 2016. We all agreed that we want our students to be motived, social readers. We want our kids to love reading and to share their reading lives with each other. We want our teachers to be a part of this also. We want to build a community of readers.
It was during this conference that I first heard news of the integration between Follett Destiny® and Biblionasium. When I read the press release, I knew right away that Biblionasium would be the ideal tool to help create the community of readers that we had just been discussing. My school started using Biblionasium last year, and it has quickly become an important part of our reading lives.
Biblionasium is a Destiny add-on that helps kids discover new books and encourages them to share the books they love with other students. I’ve heard it called “Goodreads for kids,” a great description of the site. As much as I love logging my books on Goodreads and sharing books with my friends, my students love doing the same on Biblionasium!
Since we have started using Biblionasium, here are the benefits I have observed.
- The digital bookshelf is the centerpiece of the site. It’s a great visual representation of all of the books students have read. My students love logging on to Biblionasium just to see all of their books. It gives them a big boost of confidence to see their progress. It also helps remind them which books in a series they have read.
- There is nothing more powerful than one kid recommending a book to another. When students receive book recommendations from their friends, they often read those books. Biblionasium allows students to send book recommendations to each other.
- Biblionasium also allows teachers to send book recommendations to students. When a reading group falls in love with their current book, the teacher can send out a few read alikes to members of that reading group. This really encourages students to try out new titles, most of which they probably wouldn’t know about otherwise.
- Since Biblionasium is integrated with our Destiny catalog, students see in real time which books are available for checkout. I have also noticed heightened use of Destiny, as well as students being more aware of books’ locations in the media center.
- Kids love earning digital badges on Biblionasium. The badges they earn encourage them to continue logging their books on the site.
- My students love how Biblionasium has the look and feel of a social media site. I love how Biblionasium provides a safe place to practice good digital citizenship. When students log in for the first time, they agree to use the site the right way. We talk about being kind toward others on all social media sites, including Biblionasium.
I introduce Biblionasium to all of my 3rd-5th grade classes during one of our first library lessons of the year. I give each student (and teacher) a laptop. I teach them how to access Biblionasium (both at school and at home). Then I show several of the videos from Biblionasium’s YouTube channel. After watching each video, students perform the task on their own account. A couple of weeks after these trainings, I replay the YouTube videos at the end of our morning news broadcast so that students are reminded of how to use the main features.
After training, students and teachers share tips on using Biblionasium with me! Biblionasium’s interface is very user-friendly. Students have no trouble navigating the site by themselves.
I have worked with my 3rd-5th grade teachers to create a plan for using Biblionasium to support their reading assignments and goals in the classroom. For example, my 4th grade teachers really love the book reviews tool. As their students finish a book, they add the book to their book shelf and then write a review. Students are also encouraged to recommend the book to a friend who they think would enjoy it.
Here are a couple of reviews recently written by some of my 4th grade students.
My 5th grade teachers ask students to log their reading using the reading log tool. Fifth graders are focusing on finding good fit books that they can complete this year. I meet with the 5th grade teachers to review students’ reading logs. We discuss students who are abandoning more books than they are finishing and why they that might be the case. We think of books these students might enjoy more and send them these recommendations through Biblionasium.
We also look at students who we think may not be challenging themselves with their book selections. Again, we brainstorm books they might enjoy and push out recommendations. We constantly remind students to send recommendations to their friends via Biblionasium because we believe that peer recommendations are one of the most effective reading promotion tools.
I am very excited to use the challenges feature this school year! Each month, I push out a new challenge to my students. Challenges may be based on genre, number of minutes read, number of pages read or a list of books created by the teacher or media specialist. To promote these monthly challenges, I created a poster with Coach Chip Manzee (Biblionasium’s mascot) on it. Students who complete the monthly challenge have their name added to the poster. Our morning news team anchors also promote the monthly challenge each day.
Here is the new October reading challenge I will introduce students to when we return to school from our fall break. November’s challenge will celebrate Picture Book Month.
I also created challenges for our state book award nominees. This type of challenge is based on a specified number of books from a larger list. I added all of the book titles and the number of books students are required to read in order to vote for their favorite in February. Now students can track the titles they read and know how close they are to being eligible to vote.
Biblionasium has quickly become an integral part of our school. It has allowed me to get to know my students’ reading habits better and be connected to my students’ reading lives. Through Biblionasium, we are creating motivated, social readers!
Jennifer Lewis is the Media Specialist at Indian Knoll Elementary School in Canton, Georgia. This is her twenty-first year in education and seventh as a media specialist. You can find Jennifer on Twitter @librarylew or on the web at http://missliberryteacher.blogspot.com/.