April 13, 2015
April 23 - Middle/High
April 24 - Elementary
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3 Ways to Reach Reluctant Readers With Technology
Avid readers often delve deep into a book, exploring the story and meaning behind the words on the page—they may think about the historical context of a story, the psychology of a character or the geography of a setting. By doing do, these students discover topics and ideas far beyond the story itself, developing a broader worldview in the process.
In this way, avid readers exhibit a hunger for learning more, anything to keep the story alive until they’ve closed the last page. “Avid readers exhibit a hunger for learning more, anything to keep the story alive until they’ve closed the last page.” While getting all your students to read, especially at this level, is difficult, it’s even more of a challenge when working with reluctant readers.
However, the act of reading is a vital skill that can affect a student’s performance in other subjects and situations down the road. Fostering a lifelong love of reading will have a positive ripple effect on the student’s future.
How can we help reluctant readers dive deep into a book and learn to love reading?
Teachers today have a wealth of technological tools at their disposal, which can be used to foster a love of reading in all students, reluctant readers or otherwise. Here are three ways to use them.
1. Delve Deeper Into a Story
Encourage reluctant readers to use the Internet as a tool to research something that was mentioned in the book—let them choose what interests them. This process doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated, and when it’s done, urge students to share what they’ve learned with their classmates. This can be great tool for cross-curricular study as well, for example: Google Maps
Use Google Maps to help students learn more about the geography of the book’s setting. What cities or landmarks are nearby? Check out the Street View; does it look the same as what was described in the story?
If a character in the book made a physical journey, have students find directions to see how long it would take on foot, by car, and so forth.
Have students use Wikipedia to learn fun facts about the time period of the book. This could include defining and researching certain vocabulary terms that have historical relevance.
For example, if the book takes place in the Victorian Era, there may be references to women lacing their stays too tight, fainting as a result, and having to be revived by smelling salts. Your students will get a kick out of what they learn and associate that fun with the reading they just did.
2. Collaborate With Peers
Use wikis, blogs or class websites to have students learn in a collaborative environment. Remember, collaboration doesn’t have to be limited to students in your classroom. Use your professional network, LinkedIn or other online forums to find another teacher who will be doing the same novel as your class.
Together you can create a collaborative blog where both avid and reluctant readers can discuss the book. Look for one of the many free or cheap website builders, such as WordPress, Weebly or Wix. Don’t forget to include fun features such as discussion forums and embedded videos.
3. Differentiate Instruction
With the class sizes that many teachers are dealing with, it’s nearly impossible to be exactly what every student needs—maybe your approach works well for most of the class, but doesn’t click with certain students. This is especially apparent when you’re tasked with teaching a certain novel at the last minute, and you don’t have time to give your lessons the hook that some students need.
Technological solutions like Learning Bird help teachers differentiate their instruction by offering a variety of perspectives on a topic, including a book. Teachers can also find digital lessons made by other teachers, create playlists, and assign them to certain students, either as homework or as part of a flipped classroom scenario.
Helping reluctant readers enjoy a good book can be incredibly rewarding for you as a teacher. Use the technological tools at your disposal to further unlock a book, encourage collaboration, and build-out your instructional toolbox. Make the most of what’s available and you may be surprised with the results.
Heather Belbin, posted April 2015, learntoearn.org