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4 Tools to Make Reading Instruction More Digital

Jessica Sanders December 09, 2015

There are many reasons why technology and reading make a perfect pair in the classroom. Ted Hasselbring, a research professor at Vanderbilt University, agrees, giving five specific reasons why:

  • Technology is adaptive
  • Technology facilitates repetitive practice
  • Technology is always available
  • Technology helps you collect data
  • Technology motivates

Luckily, there are many tools available that make it easy to bring valuable technology into the classroom, making your reading instruction more digital, and often more engaging and effective. Here are four especially beneficial tools.

Wiggio

Encourage students to collaborate during instruction time with Wiggio, which allows you to create class-specific forums to facilitate conversation around a certain topic. Create a group for the class, or the lesson itself, and allow students to discuss the topics in real-time. Better yet, use the polling feature to gauge understanding at the beginning, middle and end of your instruction.

These conversations can be completed outside of the classroom as well, for homework or to take independent reading one step further. A similar tool to check out is ClassChatter.

Whooo’s Reading

Motivating students to read more is likely one of the most difficult tasks modern teachers face. Whooo’s Reading makes this easier than ever thanks to gamification and social features that engage and excite every student.

After logging reading, answering a CCSS-aligned comprehension question, or interacting with peers in their “newsfeed,” students are awarded Wisdom Coins that can be used to “purchase” virtual accessories from the Owl Store. These accessories are used to decorate their own personal Owlvatar.

This tool is perfect for a blended classroom environment—allow students to do their independent class reading and then log it with Whooo’s Reading immediately after.

MindMeister

Taking notes during instruction is a valuable way for students to better retain the information they’re hearing. However, linear note taking isn’t always the best format: “This note-taking process is monotonous and encourages students to write whole sentences, which is unnecessarily time-consuming,” says Raphaela Brandner, of MindMeister.

Use MindMeister, a mind-mapping technology, to encourage students to take notes in a format that’s more effective. Simply start with a main idea in the middle and then build connecting ideas and important details off the main circle. You can direct this, giving students a main idea, topic, character or plot point, or let them choose for themselves.  

Wonderopolis

This amazing website brings technology, interactive content and fun facts into one seamless reading experience. Allow students to use this tool for free reading time. They simply choose the topic they want to read about—titles range from What Do Bees Do in Winter? to How Many Rooms Are in the White House?—and can test their comprehension in a number of ways: with the attached “Test Your Knowledge” quiz or within the article, with the “Wonder Word Challenge.”

You can use this as a class as well, and take the quizzes together. It’s a fun way to motivate students to read more, especially non-fiction material, without losing sight of the educational and assessment aspects.


 Learn more about maximizing the benefits of digital learning here.

Topics: Learning

Written by Jessica Sanders

Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn, which 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. Check out their new ebook, "How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom."

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