By Troy Lambert
Students can order books through Amazon and have them delivered to the store, but there is another option: e-textbooks, the digital, environmentally friendly spectre that haunts many teachers and delights others.
Your local and school library probably has fewer books on the shelves, a makerspace, and all kinds of community programs. They also have more digital books you can check out without even visiting their physical location.
The same phenomenon has made its way into school libraries as more students bring their own devices to school and more school implement 1-to-1 ChromeBooks and iPad programs. The question for many teachers, however, is: How do you use those eBooks in your classroom?
Here are five ideas to try.
1. E-reader Apps and Devices
There are two ways to access eBooks in your classroom. One is through dedicated e-reader devices, but not every student or teacher will have one. If you are looking for one, Top Ten Reviews has a great review of e-readers.
The other is by downloading an e-reader app to the device you already have. Most are compatible with iPads or ChromeBooks, like Storia, Kindle, and iBook. Choose the app that works best for the workflow in your classroom.
2. E-reader Apps for Smartboard
Download the above e-reader apps onto the computer connected to your Smartboard and you can access all its features and even screenshot your notes for future reference. Not all Smartboards are compatible, so check before purchasing any apps.
If students are allowed to bring their own devices, or you have a full set in your classroom, have textbooks loaded onto them. This is a fun and engaging way for them to follow along and capture your notes as well.
3. Outside Reading
Many classrooms require students to do outside reading, and there’s nothing wrong with students reading an eBook, whether it’s one they’ve purchased digitally or downloaded from the school or your local library.
A new partnership between EBSCO and Macklin has made getting digital materials even easier for school libraries. Check with your librarian to see if your school is participating: this may give you digital access to textbooks and digital testing materials as well.
BONUS: Pair student reading with Whooo’s Reading, an online tool that provides you and your students with online comprehension exercises and worksheets. With this tool, you can track standards-aligned comprehension data among your entire class and provide feedback.
4. Literature eCircles
The Scholastic app Storia allows educators to create virtual reading groups and eCircles. The online application tracks the number of minutes the students spend reading, the number of pages they read, and which words they looked up using the integrated dictionary, allowing teachers to track student progress.
The app addresses many of the concerns of group dynamics in a digital way, allowing for leadership from the teacher, the expression of different personalities, adaptation to different skill levels, and communication between students and with teachers.
5. Assistive Technology
It’s hard to modify a physical book for students with learning disabilities, adjust font size for those who are visually impaired, or even have it read to them aloud while they listen without disrupting the rest of the classroom.
But with text to speech, adjustable font size, and even methods to track reader progress, eBooks offer all of these things. They enable teachers to assist those students who are struggling to read in a much more efficient way.