Fantastic Find: Goodreads

The other day one of the lovely educators I follow @carlaleeB tweeted a link to an article from Free Technology for Teachers about this website called Goodreads and how it was helpful when teaching student’s about reading and an appreciation and enjoyment of reading. Now, I dabble in a little English teaching myself. It’s not my first love and I probably spend more time teaching English than Drama but it’s still something I do enjoy teaching. Especially when it comes to the appreciation and enjoyment of reading. I’m much better at teaching that than the actually issues in a text.

I then had a think about how this resource could be used in Drama. It got me thinking about two things:

  1. It’s a place I could go to find text ideas to use in my classes.
  2. It’s a place my student’s could go to find text ideas for performance.

The NSW HSC (Higher School Certificate) is made up of two components:

  1. 60% – Practical
  2. 40% – Theory

Two topics are studied in the theory component: either Contemporary Australian Theatre Practice or Australian Theatre Traditions. You must choose two texts from the prescribed list and look at both theoretically and experientially. The second topic is Studies in Drama and Theatre. Studied in a similar fashion students can choose from a range of topics include Approaches to Acting, Greek Theatre, Irish Drama etc.

The practical component consists of a Group Performance (3 to 6 group members create an original playbuilt piece for between 8-12 minutes) and an Individual Project. This can include anything from Performance, Scriptwriting, Design (Costume, Set, Lighting, Poster and Promotion), Critical Review, Director’s Portfolio or Video Drama.

One of the most popular areas of the HSC and the Individual Project component of the course is Performance. Most Drama student’s choose to perform a monologue. Followed closely by Scriptwriting and Costume Design.

The thing I struggle with the most when it comes to my performance student’s is:

  1. The lack of dramatic material that they know;
  2. Their lack of motivation to look for any play scripts;
  3. Their inability to look and adapt novels and film scripts for performance;

Even with a consultation process and fortnightly peer review and presentation sessions I always find students steering towards an average script from some B-Grade website and an unknown author. Not that I’m being frank or anything (rolls eyes). It’s a hard, cold reality unfortunately and it’s affecting the quality of student performance and ultimately the grade they receive.

At the same time and in complete and utter honesty, I’m often at a loss to remember or have anything on hand that I can think of to recommend to student’s for them to consider researching and performing. As teacher’s we’re in a position to guide student’s and it is incredibly difficult when you have a thousand things to do and be a walking library as well!

That’s why I think Goodreads is a great idea and an inspiration for a new section on my blog: I can connect with others and get ideas about great novels and add them to my new page.

After posting this today I will be beginning to compile a page of recommended movies and books with characters in them that can be adapted for an individual performance. It doesn’t even have to be for the HSC. It can be for any kind of performance.  I’ve already got some fantastic ideas.

The website says “Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone’s bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings. You can also post your own reviews and catalog what you have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future. Don’t stop there – join a discussion group, start a book club, contact an author, and even post your own writing.”

Some of the features I like include:

  • Three shelves: one for “read”, “currently reading” and “to-read”. You can also create your own shelves and name them. “Great Books for Drama” anyone?
  • Links with Amazon: When searching for a book to put on your shelf it links with Amazon’s catalogue. Amazon has just about everything so this means your selection of titles is huge!
  • Create a Spreadsheet: You can import your book list to Excel. Excel-lent for when you want to give your list of titles to your drama kids as ideas for their monologue performance.

There are plenty of other great features as well. You can sign up through your Facebook account or create a separate login. It also has an i-Phone app and can be followed on both Twitter and Facebook.

How do you find texts for student’s to use? Share your ideas with us in the comments.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Karla, thanks for the mention🙂 There are some great ideas in your post for Drama and English. Our DEC filter has classified access to this site for students “not set” but I would love to use it for sharing reading with my classes by setting up a group. I am endeavouring to change this but not sure it would happen-classified as Social Media.
    Currently, our Stage 5 classes are learning via a wide reading unit and one Dad shared with me on Friday that his son has now read his first book ever during our study! He is currently reading the sequel too. Goodreads would really allow students to inspire one another with their engagement and recommendations. There is no reason why they could not start their own accounts for sharing out of class. I think it is really useful for an English Faculty too, to promote and share their reading experiences. Sadly, I’m sure we often don’t read as much as we would like or should. It should be encouraged for all school staff don’t you think?
    We do not offer Drama at my school but I enjoy your blog because it provides me with inspiration for Drama in English.I am very aware that we need to give our rural students even more exposure and creative opportunities in role play, acting and theatre both within and outside of their English course studies. On that note, I am excited to be taking a small group of Year 12 to the Shakespeare Festival in Gloucester next weekend- to see “ As You Like It”.

    • That’s disappointing about the DEC filter. I’m not sure how we’re going to get around this fear of social media being “dangerous” or “not productive”. Isn’t everything in some way or another? I think if we don’t start showing kids how to use social media appropriately it will continue to be a problem rather than something social that is also useful.

      I’m in two faculties at the moment, English and Creative Arts. I enjoy teaching English but not nearly as much as Drama. I think I will definitely tell my faculty about Goodreads though. I think they may enjoy it either for their own personal use or to encourage their classes. I think we need to keep pushing technology in any way we can with our staff. It’s in our lives and many of them need to face up to it.

      Thanks for supporting my blog and I’m really glad it helps you in some way with your classes. The Shakespeare Festival is so brilliant. I performed in it when I was in high school. My student’s don’t love to perform Shakespeare. They find the language too difficult. Shakespeare is amazing to watch however and seeing other student’s do it, your kids should be inspired.

      Great name by the way😉

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