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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.

The Book

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.

Time Constraints

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 hours.

The Mechanics

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 participants
  • 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 to speak
  • 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.

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