Connecting Classrooms Through Books – Asbury University
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February 27, 2020

students walking into a schoolFifth grade students at a school in Indiana recently received a special treat from Asbury’s School of Education. Students enrolled in ED385 Reading and Writing Across Curriculum, taught by Prof. Barbara Hamilton ’15, used several types of video software to record and share their book and reading recommendations with the kids as part of a series of Book Talks.

Book Talks are an easy way to encourage reading and discussion in classrooms. Meant to inspire curiosity and interest in the listener, they are usually short presentations given in as engaging and entertaining a manner as possible – closer in nature to commercials for the books than analytical reports.

Prof. Hamilton’s class had the opportunity to join in with a series of Book Talks coordinated by Kaitlin Smith ’19 for her 5th graders. Using Zoom – web-based video meeting software – for some presentations so the kids could watch and listen together through one giant screen, Asbury students talked about their favorite middle grade books and graphic novels. Other presentations used Flipgrid, a website designed to facilitate video discussions in educational settings. With Flipgrid, Smith’s class could use personal devices to watch videos posted by the Asbury students through the Flipgrid website.

Mikala Flaugher ’21 was one of the students involved on the Asbury side. “It made me realize even more the importance of reading books outside of the required readings for class,” she said. “I loved seeing the variety of books that were shared during our live meeting. We saw everything from fiction and fantasy to realistic fiction!”

Books included in the discussions varied from graphic novels and Louis Sachar’s Holes – about a family curse and buried treasure – to The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, a fictional story of the Holocaust that tied in with some of Smith’s own Book Talks on the same theme.

“What an opportunity for our pre-service teachers to connect across the country through emerging technologies like Flipgrid and Zoom to share our love of reading,” Prof. Hamilton said. “We introduced a variety of genres across disciplines to these 5th grade students, and they shared their favorite books with us. At the end, Ms. Smith’s class surprised ours with a gift of books to begin each pre-service teacher’s classroom library! Here’s to even more connectedness when we start here and impact the world!”