Technology does many things for your students. It…
- Creates a more engaging experience
- Makes learning more fun
- Connects the classroom to real-life
Most tools bring all of these benefits together to create a truly exciting experience for students. This is especially true for reading instruction. Most students would rather be playing a game, sharing photos with friends, or watching a YouTube video than reading; or at least, they’d like to do that in addition to reading.
Luckily, you and your students can have the best of both worlds, using technology to make traditional reading time and literacy instruction more exciting. Try these fun ideas that bring online reading logs, video, digital note taking, and web-based reading into your classroom.
Online Reading Logs
Reading logs provide teachers with a number of benefits, including the ability to gather data and hold students accountable. However, it’s not a fun task for students, and one that many education professionals believe “kills the love of reading.”
“I introduced this to my 6th graders last week, and they are IN LOVE with it…
Luckily, the technology used by Whooo’s Reading, an online reading log tool, provides teachers with all the same benefits (and then some!), while motivating students to read more and love every minute of it.
The idea is simple: students log their reading, answer CCSS-aligned comprehension questions, and interact with their peers in a newsfeed-style dashboard to earn Wisdom Coins. These coins are then “spent” on virtual accessories in the Owl Shop, which are worn by students’ personalized Owlvatars.
Used by more than 15K teachers nationwide, it’s sure to make your reading instruction more exciting: “I introduced this to my 6th graders last week, and they are IN LOVE with it!!! It’s amazing how motivated they are to read just so they can customize their owl and screen background,” said Kelley S., 6th grade teacher.
There are so many ways to bring video into your reading instruction, all of which make reading more exciting. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Reading interview: Choose one student who has read the most that month, interview them, and post it on social media (with parental permission). This motivates students to read more so they can get their 15 minutes of fame too.
Compare and contrast: Play scenes of the movie version of a book the class just finished or the whole film. To keep them engaged, pose a few questions before the scene or movie starts, such as: What scenes were removed and what scenes were added? Or, Do the characters look different than you imagined? How so?
Video book report: Give students a chance to create a video instead of a book report. They can recreate a scene of their choice, write, and act out an alternate ending, and much more.
Digital Note Taking
Note taking is an important task for students during instruction, helping them better retain the information they’re hearing. However, linear note taking is time-consuming and inherently encourages students to write in full sentences, rather than jotting down thoughts and information in their own words.
Instead of simply moving note taking to an online word processor like Google Docs, have your students take notes in a mind-mapping format. With a single, main idea in the center circle, students add supporting facts and important details as lines that shoot out from the main idea.
This not only encourages them to write short details and titles, but it makes it easier to understand complex ideas, plot lines, and characters.
While nothing will replace the feeling of a book in your hand, students have nearly unlimited access to new and different reading materials when they head online. This is especially beneficial for students who don’t like traditional non-fiction reading like biographies.
Instead, they can use websites like Newsela to browse real news articles that have been altered for students. Each article can be read in one of five different levels, and comes accompanied by a quiz to test comprehension. What’s more, you can create an account, assign articles, and write custom questions for students to answer.
Students will love the opportunity to explore topics that are more relevant or interesting for them, and you can still check for comprehension. In a 1:1 classroom, each student can read the article on their device, and the class can discuss together.
Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn, a San Diego-based education organization that offers Read-A-Thon fundraisers and reading motivation tools for teachers and schools. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on Amazon.com.