All of the courses that Scott Hertzog teaches at Penn Manor are involved in the new, modern, and, dare we say it, fun book report called “Fireside Book Chats.”
An innovative teacher at Penn Manor, Hertzog is now one of 700 entries that are hoping for one of ten first place prizes for innovative teachers through the Public Broadcasting Service.
The chats are really podcasts that are recorded in front of the class, “They still have to do work, like writing an annotated bibliography,” said Hertzog. “It’s an interview setup that students alike agree is less threatening.”
Hertzog describes the students as having anxiety about their thoughts on a book going worldwide.
Originally called Room 312, Fireside Book Chats started as a quick five-minute lesson recap that students could use if they hadn’t made it to school that day. But since no one was using it, Hertzog decided he could evolve it into something more interactive.
Clearly the Fireside Book Chats have had an impact worldwide. Hertzog says one of his proudest moments was when their site; www.firesidebookchat.com hit 55,000 downloads. Not only is it a hit online with people all over the world, but even the authors of the books have written in.
Taking one look at the site, you can see why Hertzog would be motivated to compete in the innovative teacher’s award. Book reviews ranging from Nickled and Dimed to A Great Derangement can be read on this growing site.
The thirteenth year English teacher at Penn Manor said he likes how the whole concept has developed.
Hertzog said, “It has evolved from just a simple list of questions to using MLA citation and writing an annotated bibliography.”
Ninth through twelfth graders participate in Fireside Book Chats, but, “I slowly increase the intensity as courses are taught,” as far as length of books and the depth of annotated bibliographies, Hertzog explained.
Hertzog is currently ranked among the top five teachers nations wide. Winners will be announced on April 5.
By Dana Poetzl