Category: Reading

orton-gillingham

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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kids reading

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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summer learning

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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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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class library

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.

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reading

5 Tech Tools to Inspire Reading

readingReading is defined as “the action or skill of absorbing written or printed matter silently or aloud.” Sounds dry, maybe even boring, but once a child learns to read, they get much more than an understanding of words, sentences, paragraphs, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. They get an escape from reality, exercise for their brains, a closeness to like-minded souls, answers to problems–and reading can even predict success in school. It alleviates boredom in the bits of free time that pop up between soccer and dinner and it can be done alone or in a group.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends…”
― Charles William Eliot

Teachers and parents know all this and still, the Literacy Company reports that most teachers in classes of twenty+ students spend only five minutes a day reading, and 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine. Not a surprise, Statistic Brain says 80% of adults did not buy a single book in the past year (Pew reports it as 77%).

I am constantly on the hunt for good tech reading tools. There are hundreds–thousands–of them, but I’m picky. Here’s what I look for:

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reading

52 Resources for Read Across America Day

stone-figure-10542_640Many 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. Interactive storybook collection
  8. Listen/read–Free non-fic audio books
  9. Magic Keys–stories for youngers
  10. Mighty Book
  11. PBS Stories–Between the Lions
  12. Signed stories
  13. Starfall
  14. Stories read by actors
  15. Stories to read for youngsters
  16. Stories to read from PBS kids
  17. Stories to read–II
  18. Stories—MeeGenius—read/to me
  19. Stories—non-text
  20. Story Scramble
  21. Storytime for me
  22. Teach your monster to read (free)
  23. Ziggity Zoom Stories

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online reading

5 Tech Tools That Motivate Every Reader

digital readingI 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.

Bookopolis

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.

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digital citizenship

3 Organizational Apps to Start the School Year

Whether you teach science or PE, there are hundreds of apps to help you do it better. The response to this tidal wave of information has been confusion. As each teacher downloads their favorites, students spend as much time learning the app as applying it academically.

There’s a move afoot to pick five that are cross-curricular, train faculty, and then use them throughout the school year. This is the way it used to be when MS Office ruled the computer and everyone understood it. If this is your school, here are three apps to start the school year:

goodreaderGoodReader

When looking for an app to curate classroom reading, consider these requirements:

  • works well with your current LMS
  • includes a wide variety of reading formats
  • displays books quickly, allowing you to open multiple books, add annotations, and take notes
  • displays class textbooks

Lots of apps do the first three; none the last. Why? Many class texts use formats that only display on the publisher website. What became apparent as I researched was that GoodReader was one of several considered Best in Class because of its broad-based ability to read, manage, organize, access, and annotate a wide variety of file formats. Where it has long been considered a leader in reading and annotating PDFs, new releases accommodate almost any type of file including .docx, mp3, jpeg, ppt, xlx, audio, and videos. With its tabbed interface, users can open multiple documents and click through them as needed.

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