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Reading

Print or Digital Textbooks? What’s the Low-down?

For the past decade, schools have invested millions of dollars in technology. It started with a push for desktop computers which soon expanded to iPads and the wonderful apps (like art programs) that made tablets essential tools. Quickly after iPads, schools fell in love with Chromebooks and their amazing ability to allow students to collaborate and share, not to mention their ease of maintenance. Today’s focus is to give every student a digital device, much as kids used to be provided tablets and pencils.

The next game changer, according to education experts, will be digital textbooks. This is driven in large part by the affordability and portability of digital devices like Chromebooks, tablets, and laptops. Why lug around half a dozen heavy books in a backpack that too often is left behind on a sports field or at the library? Why spend a year studying information in a print textbook that doesn’t match the thinking or values of the school and its students? It’s no wonder proponents of digital books are pushing for change.

But there’s another side to the story of print vs. digital, one that is at the core of why 2015 e-book sales dropped in the United States and the UK. Let’s take a clear-eyed look at the pluses on each side of this argument. Then, when it’s time for your school to make that call, you’ll be ready.

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Categories: Classroom management, Digital Devices, Reading | Leave a comment

39 Resources for Read Across America Day

Many people in the United States, particularly students, parents and teachers, join forces on Read Across America Day, annually held on March 2. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Here are some great reading websites for students K-5:

  1. Aesop Fables—no ads
  2. Aesop’s Fables
  3. Audio stories
  4. Childhood Stories
  5. Classic Fairy Tales
  6. Fairy Tales and Fables
  7. Listen/read–Free non-fic audio books
  8. Starfall
  9. Stories read by actors
  10. Stories to read for youngsters
  11. Stories to read–II
  12. Stories—MeeGenius—read/to me
  13. Stories—non-text
  14. Story Scramble
  15. Ziggity Zoom Stories (more…)
Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, Holidays, Reading, Websites | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Let’s Celebrate World Read-aloud Day (#WorldReadAloudDay)

world read aloud dayOn Feb. 1, 2018, World Read Aloud Day celebrates the pure joy of oral reading with kids of all ages. Created by LitWorld, past years have found more than 1 million people in 100 countries joining together to enjoy the power and wonder of reading aloud in groups or individually, at school as part of classroom activities, or home, and discovering what it means to listen to a story told through the voice of another.

For many, this is a rare opportunity to hear the passion of a well-told story and fall in love with tales where hearing them reaches listeners on a level nothing else can. Think back to your experiences. You probably sat with an adult, in their lap or curled up in bed. The way they mimicked the voices in the story, built drama, and enthused with you over the story and characters made you want to read more stories on your own. This is a favorite activity not just for pre-readers, but beginning and accomplished readers because it’s not about reading the book; it’s about experiencing it through the eyes of a storyteller.

Somehow, as lives for both the adults and children have gotten busier, as digital devices have taken over, as parents turned to TVs or iPads to babysit kids while they do something else, we’ve gotten away from this most companionable of activities. World Read Aloud Day is an opportunity to get back to it.

Here are some classroom activities designed to do just that.

Read more on TeachHUB…

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Categories: Holidays, Reading | 3 Comments

Is Orton-Gillingham Right For Your Students?

Orton-Gillingham started over seventy years ago as an instructional approach intended for those with difficulty reading, spelling, and writing, like what children experience in dyslexia. Sometimes, teachers recognized the special needs of a reading-challenged student, but just as often, it was blamed on disinterest or lack of effort, leaving the child to conclude s/he “just wasn’t good at reading.” When those same children were taught to read using the Orton-Gillingham (O-G) approach, many felt like that child who puts glasses on for the first time and his/her entire world comes into focus.

Since then, the Orton-Gillingham Method has enabled thousands of children to access worlds opened to them by reading, something they never thought would happen. In fact, it has been so successful, O-G is being mainstreamed into the general education classroom, as a way to unlock the power of reading for more students.

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Categories: Classroom management, Reading, Teaching Strategies, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

13 Websites That Provide Lots of Digital Books for Summer Reading

online readingAt the beginning of the 21st century, the definition of digital equity revolved around the provision of a digital device to every student. Usually, that meant desktop computers, iPads, and laptops, either in small groups or 1:1. As digital equity discussions matured and hyperbole became reality, educators found that those loudly-touted digital devices often became paperweights. The reasons were varied (teacher training, infrastructure, and professional support to name a few), but one of the most prominent was money. Good intentions to give all students access to the world’s knowledge were derailed by the cost of the websites and webtools that made that happen. Turns out — and not really a surprise — the cost of the digital devices was minor compared to the cost of the websites and webtools required to meet goals.

There is one bright spot in this story: Online books. Thanks to the efforts of many devoted professionals and the financial support of more, there are a wide variety of free/inexpensive sources for books that students can use for classroom activities as well as pleasure.

FREE

Here are eight sites that offer free books for kids to adults:

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Categories: Reading, Reviews | Tags: | 12 Comments

Why Teaching Children To Read And Write Should Be Fun

orton-gillinghamAsk a Tech Teacher contributor, Sara Stringer, has a good article this month on literacy among children and how to improve the dismal statistics:

In the Middle Ages, literacy was highly valued. People yearned for literacy then, the way an average American might yearn to win the lottery today. For instance, Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor crowned in 800 AD, was admired as much for his ability to read as for his military victories. However, he never did learn how to write, claiming that he never quite got the hang of it, and he left that to the monastic scribes.

In the Middle Ages, literacy was highly valued. People yearned for literacy then, the way an average American might yearn to win the lottery today. For instance, Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor crowned in 800 AD, was admired as much for his ability to read as for his military victories. However, he never did learn how to write, claiming that he never quite got the hang of it, and he left that to the monastic scribes.

The opportunity to read is no longer only something that kings and monks can do. The rare and valuable skills of reading and writing now available to almost everyone in the US can improve a person’s life in many ways. A literate person can reap the fruits of a rational life, earn more, and enjoy a higher standard of living.

Unfortunately, we have now come to take the opportunity to read and write for granted. In fact, the decline in reading ability alone in the US is alarming. Education Dive, quoting a Renaissance Learning’s 2016 report, said: “high school seniors are reading at a 6th-grade level, and only 9% of students in high school read texts above a middle school complexity level of 8, leaving students ill-prepared for college-level reading at about 13.”

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Categories: Reading | Tags: , | 2 Comments

3 Important Books for Kids

Summer’s approaching. Kids love playing outside, visiting friends–and reading! To encourage that last activity, here are three great books that will entertain, motivate, and educate–all in one fun experience.

  • Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees Story and Cookbook — a clever blend of baking and reading. This is one of several Robby Cheadle and family have written
  • Why are There Bullies and What Can You Do About Them — an interactive Q&A about bullying and its solutions
  • The Piper Morgan Series — addresses issues youngsters are curious about, told in first person through the eyes of delightful Piper Morgan

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Categories: Reading, Reviews | Tags: | 10 Comments

3 Book Reviews about Anthropomorphized Computers

I know a lot of bloggers who are both geeks and authors. Often, their books including those techie topics I love to read (and ended up critical to my recently-published novel, Twenty-four Days). Here are a few I think you might like:

  • Digital Dick — an AI takes it upon himself to solve the murder of his creator
  • Little Computer People — an AI takes an interesting turn  as she attains sentience
  • Hyperion Web — Jack Crockett and an AI named Moses fight for what may be the soul of America.

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Categories: Reading, Teacher resources | Tags: | Leave a comment

Ten Reading-with-Tech Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

READING IN CLASSHere are ten of the top reading-related articles according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. How do I create a classroom library checkout system?
  2. 5 Tech Tools to Inspire Reading
  3. 5 Tech Tools That Motivate Every Reader
  4. 3 Digital Tools to Encourage Close Reading
  5. 32 Reading Websites
  6. How Minecraft Teaches Reading, Writing and Problem Solving
  7. Common Core Reading–What if Students Don’t Like Reading
  8. I need reading resources for ELL/ESL
  9. 17 Story Sites for First and Second Grade
  10. Reading + Keyboarding = Success

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Categories: Reading, Tech tips | Tags: | 1 Comment

Dear Otto: How do I create a classroom library checkout system?

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. 

I got this question from a colleague:

I am looking for an app that classroom teachers can use to scan a classroom library and allow teachers to check books out with students.  Any suggestions on one or your colleagues may have liked?  Thanks for your help!

I chatted with colleagues and got a few common answers:
  • Classroom Organizer–a free app that works with a desktop application; lets you scan in books, manage them, and check them out (through the app)
  • Classroom Checkout–a fee-based app that catalogues books, manages student checkouts, and keeps track of books.

Another interesting approach that one friend uses is through Google Forms and an add-on called Checkitout: You enter all the books yourself (rather than scan a barcode and have the information populate) into a Google spreadsheet tied to a Google Checkout Form. Students would fill the Google Form out with relevant information and that would automatically populate on the spreadsheet you created. You can sort the spreadsheet by book rather than date to see which books are checked out to whom. Richard Byrne does a nice summary of how it works here.

A final option: QR Codes. I didn’t find anyone in my PLN using this approach, but it sounds pretty good. Here’s an article on it.

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Categories: Classroom management, Dear Otto, Reading | Leave a comment