By Loulou Gaget
Engaging new readers in the classroom and at home can prove to be a difficult task. But, reading books should never be a chore, and with the technology we currently have access to, it never has to be.
Blended learning has become the norm, and classrooms that are on the cusp of integrating technology know just how inspiring it can be to see kids that were struggling suddenly become masters when technology is added to the curriculum.
Become one of the teachers that turns their struggling readers into bookworms with reading tools that make reading fun for your digital citizens.
Top Tech Tool: Buncee
With digital storytelling, students can create, narrate, and illustrate a story all in one place, allowing their creativity to shine through like never before. With Buncee, students start their story by adding text, images, drawings, videos and stickers. Then, they can record their voices into their stories seamlessly, using tools within the platform.
The ability to play audio back encourages students to self-correct pronunciation and practice speech skills, both of which are important for improving reading comprehension.
Soon, reading comprehension becomes associated with the reward of creating digital stories, further encouraging kids to read and write! “Buncees,” the stories created by students, are easily shareable, cloud-based creations, filled with multimedia of their choice.
Buncee also gives students access to the Author’s Corner. This area helps students gain a deeper sense of understanding of the books they’re reading and analyzing. In the corner, you’ll find lesson templates, question and answer sessions with authors, interactive buncees that include music and videos, and so much more.
Students can browse the author’s corner to learn more about their favorite books, gather resources, and find inspiration for book reports and presentations.
Positive Reinforcement and Recognition
Top Tech Tool: Send a Gold Star
Send A Gold Star is a fun way to give encouragement and positive reinforcement with technology. Simply type the email address of your successful student and send them a gold star for free.
This form of extrinsic motivation is a step toward helping your students build their intrinsic motivation for reading: “When students make the connection between their performance and feeling good about themselves, intrinsic motivation is enhanced and positive behaviors continue,” says Carol Gerber Allred in 7 Strategies for Building Positive Classrooms.
Give students gold stars for a number of successes, including getting a great test or quiz grade, reaching a new reading level, or even finishing a book chapter.
With Send a Gold Star, Elementary-level students can send each other gold stars and interact within the site, practicing digital citizenship and peer-praise.
Print your gold stars and keep a star chart so that students can see their own improvement. This gamifies the process, which is sure to make reading fun and motivate even the least excited learners.
Gamification and Social Motivation
Top Tech Tool: Whooo’s Reading
Whooo’s Reading is the ultimate reading motivator for students, both in and out of the classroom. After logging their reading—students can read whatever books they choose—students can answer CCSS-aligned comprehension questions and interact with their peers within their reading “newsfeed.”
They earn points for logging reading, answering questions and “Liking” other responses, motivating them to do this more and more. These points are then “spent” on virtual accessories in the Owl Shop.
One 5th-grade teacher said, “My reluctant readers are actually begging me for more time reading and responding. They love earning coins for their work and designing their page and avatars.”
Bonus: Teachers can also set “minute goals” for their students, see exactly which books students are reading at any given time, along with the book’s Lexile Level, and see individual and classwide reading progress in a simple graph. Gone are the days of guessing about a student’s progress!
Top Tech Tool: Loose Strands
Loose Strands is an app that allows student creativity to blossom while improving literacy. This imaginative app allows students to follow along with the story of a mysterious barbershop and the family who owns it.
However, it’s different from any traditional reading scenario because the reader can decide exactly what will happen next by manipulating the main character’s decisions and actions—students choose from several different plots, settings, and story endings that are pre-written based on the choices that are made.
This app was named one of the best apps in 2015 for young readers. At the 2015 Digital Book Awards, the app was described as, “A brilliant combination of experiential digital design and traditional storytelling.” Watch the trailer to learn more about Loose Strands!
There are just a few digital learning tools that make reading fun and encourage them to continue reading and writing, even when they leave the classroom. Use these tools and more to engage every reader in your classroom and make reading fun again.