Using PhotoStream to help build a community of readers


In a previous post (14/April – The Book Whisperer), I shared how I had read a book by Donalyn Miller, called Reading in the Wild.

She lists 5 things that lifelong readers (or wild readers, as she calls them) do.
One of these is to be part of a reading community, where you can share what books you have read – to inspire others  – and hear about what others in that community are reading – to be inspired  – and to add to another of Miller’s lifelong readers’ behaviours – add to your reading plan, which is the list of books you want to read.

As I no longer have the year 5 and 6 classes for a stand alone library session, one of the things that I feel they are missing out on is this ‘reading community’. So how to achieve it when I am not seeing the classes regularly in the library to talk about books I have read and give the students a safe forum to share their reading as well.

Miller uses GoodReads, an online reading community, to connect her middle school students to a wider reading community. With primary age children, this open access to the www could be a problem in terms of keeping an eye on what they are accessing.

So, one of my colleagues came up with the idea of using PhotoStream. As all the year 5 and 6’s have their own iPads, this is a great way to use it.

I set up a photo stream, 5J Reading, and individually invited each class member, by email, to join the stream. So only people who are invited can access it.



I took a photo of a Tashi book I had just read to my year 1 classes and wrote a few words about why it was such a good story and posted it. This is so easy to do. Then the other members of the 5J PhotoStream can get on and ‘like’ my comments or comment themselves back so it is possible to get some to and fro happening between members.

I only set this up on Thursday of last week, so I’m not sure how successful it will be. Will the year 5’s post and will they comment? Of course, they can do these things whenever it suits them, ie. at school or at home, which is a positive, I think.

The Science teacher at school has just started using Photostream to give feedback to the year 5’s on their work. When they complete their science work, she asks them to take a picture of it and post it on the PhotoStream, with comments and she can reply back with – yes you are on the right track, or ahhh, what does this mean? is this what we talked about in class? – more immediate feedback and she likes it, because she doesn’t have to lug 27 bits of paper from school to home and back. It is all there on her iPad and easily worked on at home.

I have told the other year 5 and 6 classroom teachers about it so hopefully, they will want to get on board with this as well and we can create 4 ‘reading communities’ – to inspire and be inspired by reading and books.

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