I love having guest posts on Ask a Tech Teacher because I always learn a lot. In this case, efriend and fellow educator, Jessica Sanders from WhooosReading.org, shares her favorite tools for kick-starting readers. I think you’ll like her choices:
Not every student is motivated to read—as you, as an educator, know better than anyone else. Luckily, technology not only comes as second nature to the digital citizens in your classroom, but engages readers of every level, motivating them to read.
These five tech tools do exactly that, and can be used in almost any classroom environment or to encourage independent reading at home. Harness the power of peer-to-peer book recommendations and gamification to motivate your students to read more every day.
Nothing inspires students to read more than recommendations from their friends. Bookopolis harnesses that power by offering students a social reading community, where they can share book recommendations, write book reviews, and more.
Students can sign up alone, or with the help of their parent or teacher. Through the platform, students have a chance to uncover more of what they love or discover the kind of books they want to start reading.
Use It: Use Bookopolis as an activity station, where students can scan through reading reviews and discover book lists. Require everyone to write at least one review about the book they most recently finished and make at least one book recommendation to a fellow student.
Gamification can make almost any subject more fun, especially reading. With Whooo’s Reading, students earn Wisdom Coins for logging reading, answering standards-aligned, open-ended comprehension questions, and talking about books with their peers in the Facebook-style newsfeed.
Wisdom Coins can be “spent” in the virtual Owl Shop, where students buy virtual accessories to dress their owl. This tool is used by more than 35K teachers nationwide, making it a smart choice for almost every classroom.
Use It: Use the teacher dashboard to set reading and response goals for your students. They’ll see the goal and how far they are from achieving it, motivating them to log more reading and answer more of the standards-aligned questions.
Newsela makes reading non-fiction text fun and exciting. With a broad range of subjects being covered every single day, from environmental issues to political topics, students can choose to read about whatever interests them.
What’s more, students can choose to read each article at their own reading level—there are five to choose from—so they’re not intimidated by difficult text or feel left behind when their peers are reading something that they can’t.
Use It: Require students to read one non-fiction article a week from Newsela. At the end, each student must write a blog post about their top three takeaways, and link to two more relevant and reliable sources on the subject.
This is another tool that uses gamification to motivate students. As they navigate through the quest, which is based off Aesop Fables, they must read and recall the information via comprehension questions, to move on to the next level. All reading excerpts are grade-level appropriate and each question for leveling up requires higher-level thinking.
Use It: Use this app as an activity station in the classroom. After choosing the appropriate level, students can play for a certain period of time and see how long it takes them to get higher than they got last time. They’ll be excited to compete with their peers to see who can get to the highest level.
It’s hard to motivate struggling readers to pick up a book—it can be stressful and intimidating. Prizmo makes this a little less scary. With the app, students can scan any text, including book pages or the newspaper, and listen to it read out loud to them. The easier and more available reading feels, the more these students will “read”—in whatever way they can.
Use It: Make this app available to all of your students during independent reading time. Prizmo will make reading even more fun for every reading in your classroom.
A brief bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day. It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica 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.
More on reading:
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.