Most avid readers will agree: no technology could replace the feeling of a book in your hands, immersed in its pages, flipping furiously from one chapter to the next. But that doesn’t mean technology doesn’t have a place in the world of reading.
Quite the contrary, introducing new tools in your classroom can get students excited to read more and provide you with greater access to student data—which you can use to further enhance your teaching.
However, these tools won’t teach your students for you. To make them effective, you need to maintain a learning-first attitude: “When you’re focused on ‘Learning First’ and not ‘Technology First,’ the technology is secondary to your good instruction,” said Lauren Steinmann, a Digital Learning Coach and 11-year teacher.
Find that delicate balance between teaching and relying on technology with these three tips.
1. Qualify Your Technology Needs
There are dozens of tools available to help you teach reading with technology and all of them vary in one way or another. Take a minute to consider what it is you and your students need, which can help to narrow the options. To do so, answer a few important questions:
- What is my goal?
- What is the main goal of this product?
- Do I need the product to be common core-aligned?
- Will the product let me monitor my students’ progress?
For example, you may think: My number one goal is to make reading more fun for my students. The main goal of the product will be to build a community around reading with my students. I need a product that comes with built-in, common core-aligned comprehension questions. I want to be able to check-in whenever at any time to see which students are excelling and which are falling behind.
In this case, Whooo’s Reading, a social platform that encourages students to read more and makes it easy for them to discuss the books they love, would be the perfect fit for your needs.
Other reading technology tools that may fit a variety of needs are:
2. Use Data to Improve Your Lessons
One of the greatest benefits of using technology to teach students to read is that (in most cases) you have access to accurate data, rather than extracting it yourself manually.
Use this data to improve your lessons; offering personalized learning opportunities for the students who need it and challenging those who are standing out as top readers. This data can also offer insight when meeting with parents or grading reading homework.
3. Take it Offline
Your classroom doesn’t need to put all its focus on technology to reap the benefits. In fact, organizing offline opportunities to discuss and reward reading can enhance work your students do within the tools. Here are four offline activities to try:
- Hand out reading certificates: One could go to the top reader of the week or the student with the most thoughtful comprehension answer, for example.
- Organize a reading party: Plan to have a reading party once a month. Bring a special snack for the students to munch on while they get lost in their books.
- Organize a book swaps: Kids of all ages agree: the books they finish (and love) are the ones they pick out themselves, according to the newest Scholastic Kids and Family Report. A book swap encourages kids to choose the books they want to read.
- Create competitions: Challenge your students: Who can read the most this weekend? Who can finish their book by tomorrow morning?
Technology makes reading more fun and exciting for students and provides you with accurate data about how they’re improving. Use these tools to enhance the great work you already do.
Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn. 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. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.