Considerations in Running a virtual professional community as part of the effort to encourage reading in Elementary Schools.

Submitted by: Yael Segev
Abstract: In Israel, the engagement with promoting the love of reading is part of the ongoing activities of language classes in the primary school setting. For various reasons, language teachers are not trained to lead their students in discussions based on their reading as a tool to encourage reading (Burgess, Sargent & Smith, 2011; Hason, 2018).
This fact has propelled Israel’s Ministry of Education to prepare an intervention program and to present teachers with pedagogic practices for the classroom which promote the encouragement of reading books. As part of this program, it was decided to open a virtual professional knowledge community, with the goal of transforming language teachers into change agents with respect to promoting reading.
The expectation was that the advantages of the digital platform (Lev-On, 2015) would lead teachers to gain new knowledge and classroom-ready tools, and that the connection between the teacher, the book, and the student would be strengthened thereby.
At the end of the activity, the 28 teachers who participated in the community continually were asked to answer a Questionnaire which consisted of 19 questions: six open questions and 13 closed questions. The open questions provided qualitative answers on the issue of changing the perceptions and perspectives of the participants regarding the encouragement of reading following their participation in the community. Six of the closed questions were presented as multiple-choice questions which dealt with technical issues and operational aspects of the community and the other 13 questions required ranking according to the Likert scale and dealt with their learning experience. The results discovered that 43% of the teachers reported that the community activities had changed their perspectives on their role in encouraging reading. 65% were also able to respond with at least one classroom activity that they organized as a result of their participation in the community, and mentioned its clear influence on encouraging reading

Key words:virtual professional knowledge community, Elementary school

Burgess, S.R., Sargent, S., & Smith, M. (2011). Teachers' leisure reading habits and knowledge of children's books: do they relate teaching to school teachers? Reading Provement, 48(2), 8-84
Hason, S. (2018) The role of the reading book in the elementary religious school through the eyes of teachers, librarians, principals and policy makers. Doctoral dissertation, Bar-Ilan University.
Lev-On, A., (2015) online Communities Tel aviv: Resling Publishing