English teacher candidates, or “Reading Coaches,” conducted virtual reading conferences with sixth graders using the digital platforms Zoom and Flip to support students’ independent reading as part of a 40 Book Challenge in an online and blended learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. As evidence of students’ participation and engagement, we present survey results and draw from conference records, observation notes, and a content analysis of video transcripts, triangulating across data sets to illuminate important design features. Connecting research with practice, we offer educators tangible resources of a Conference Guide, Flip design, record-keeping system, and training materials, as well as considerations for cultivating a reading community that extends beyond the physical classroom to support students’ independent reading through digital platforms.
Dr. Amy Carpenter Ford is a Professor at Central Michigan University. Her teaching, research, and service focuses on preparing teachers to provide equitable, inclusive, and engaging learning experiences for PK-12 students. A former urban high school teacher, she loves working with aspiring and practicing teachers as well as children and youth in schools. She teaches a variety of English Language Arts education courses, coordinates clinical experiences, and builds mutually beneficial partnerships by collaborating with classroom teachers, schools, and educators from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and community. She can be reached at .
Ms. Kayla Szymanski is a middle school language arts teacher for Community Unit School District 200 in Illinois and a recent graduate of Central Michigan University. Her interests include helping students form successful reading habits, spending time with family and friends, and dancing. She can be reached at .
Ms. Isabel Slate is a teacher and basketball coach at Woodhaven High School in Flat Rock, Michigan. She is interested in history, literature, and traveling. She can be reached at .
Rachel Derusha is an English Language Arts teacher in the Mount Pleasant Public School District. She coaches varsity basketball, mentors teacher candidates, and curates a vibrant classroom library. Her interests include mentoring students and athletes, reading, cooking, and promoting physical and mental health through trauma-informed practices. She can be reached at .
Ford, Amy Carpenter; Szymanski, Kayla; Slate, Isabel; and Derusha, Rachel
"Reading Coaches for a 40 Book Challenge: Creating an Online Reading Community to Support Sixth Graders’ Independent Reading,"
Michigan Reading Journal: Vol. 55:
2, Article 9.