Professional Development Articles
Book Study Groups
Book study groups have long been one
of the least expensive and most enjoyable ways for educators
to grow professionally. Their popularity is on the rise, as
more and more educators get together to discuss educational
books such as textbooks or general art books.
Forming a Group
A book study group can be formed in your
school, your district, your community, or even with an online
group. Groups are easiest to manage when there are between
five and ten participants. Any educator can participate in
a book study group. Members must decide at the outset whether
their study group will be subject- or pedagogy-related. This
decision will help determine who might be interested in participating
in the study group.
If your group consists of art teachers,
your topic could be in either art or pedagogy. However, if
your group is for all educators, art topics are probably not
of primary interest.
If your book study group decides to focus
on pedagogy, you may want to browse the Web site of the Association
for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) at www.ascd.org.
The ASCD is one of the best resources for books on pedagogy
and has vast book offerings for educators. In addition to
publishing many books on all the latest trends in instruction,
they also offer discounts to members.
A great resource for book study groups
that focuses on art is the National Art Education Association
(NAEA). You can visit this organization’s Web site at
www.naea-reston.org. Here you will find several publications
on teaching art. Another great book for an art study group
is your textbook.
Where to Meet
Meeting places can be just about anywhere:
- a school
- a home (rotate by members)
- a restaurant with a meeting room
- a museum meeting room
- an art store or studio
Choose a location that is convenient for
members of your study group and that will provide the best
atmosphere for conducting a book study group.
The length of time devoted to a book depends
on the length of the book and the material covered in each
chapter. Most groups discuss one to three chapters per session.
The sessions usually meet once or twice a month at a designated
time and place. A book session usually lasts 1 to 1 ½
There are a variety of ways to conduct
the actual book study group meeting. One method many enjoy
is to assign a different member of the group to lead the discussion
at each session. Regardless of who the group leader is or
how the discussion is set up, there are certain procedures
that will help assure success of the meeting:
- Have small group discussions if the group has 5 or more
- Have different participants share thoughts
- Assure that mutual respect is given to all opinions
- Make sure only one person talks at a time
- Assign a facilitator to allow everyone the opportunity
- Develop questions before the meeting to cover key concepts
Book studies not only help educators
grow as professionals, they also help teachers build friendships
with other educators.