How to bring reading instruction into the digital world

June 15, 2016 | by contributor

Post contributed by Jessica Sanders of Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read everyday.

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Reading is arguably one of the most important skills a student can learn, and technology can make it easier to keep students engaged in reading instruction, while empowering them to use creativity to gain a deeper understanding of the text. Here are four ideas to bring your reading instruction into the digital world.

1. Add new layers of information
With technology, students can learn more about the book they’re reading or explore textual topics they find most interesting. For example, if the book is non-fiction, students can do additional research online to find information that creates context around the characters and their actions. This can provide students with a more well-rounded picture of the book they’re reading. Free apps or even your own cell phone can be used easily and effectively.

Try it:

  • Show students a scene from the movie version of the book you just finished. Ask them to compare the differences between the book and the movie, explain whether they liked the changes or not, and describe how these changes might affect certain aspects of the plot.
  • Have students create a custom Google Map to outline the plot of the book you just finished. If the book setting is fictional, have students choose the area of the country or world in which they imagined it taking place and explain why.

2. Elevate book reports
With so much amazing technology at students’ fingertips, why limit them to writing a typical book report? Instead, empower them to find the medium they think is best.

Try it:

  • Create a Facebook page of one of the main characters along with a one-page explanation of why you chose to include the information you did.
  • Take video of a Q&A with one of the books’ main characters, acted out by your partner.

3. Make books more available
Students can be forgetful. With technology, you can avoid the “But I forgot my book in the classroom!” excuse by providing students with online or audio copies of the text. Consider whether your school is willing to purchase audio or online versions, if it already has subscriptions you can take advantage of or if you can find it online for free.

Try it:

  • Give students access to the audio version of the book you’re reading and encourage them to listen to it in addition to reading. Add a small comprehension assignment for each chapter to ensure that students listening to the audio aren’t tuning out.

4. Gamify the experience
Gamification brings real life into the learning experience in many ways. This technology, which uses leveling, personalization, and rewards to motivate students, keeps them more engaged and makes the lesson more memorable. Students will love the chance to “play” while they learn.

Try it:

  • There are a variety of free or inexpensive gamification tools available to you—in both web and mobile applications—that can easily be brought into the classroom. When choosing one, keep educational priorities your focus; it can be easy to accidentally choose a tool that distracts more than it helps. Ask colleagues for suggestions and recommendations as well.

Empower your students with technology. Let them use their creativity and curiosity to show what they know, while enjoying the process along the way. With reading instruction, the sky’s the limit!

Follow Whooo’s Reading at @Learn2Earn and check out their new ebook How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom.

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