Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

3 Reading Strategies to Engage Digital Natives

3 Reading Strategies to Engage Digital Natives

By Jenny McClintock

This generation of students is surrounded by computers, cell phones, tablets, video games and other digital wonders. This constant exposure has changed the way they process, interact and use information.

In the book, Understanding the digital generation: Teaching and learning in the new digital landscape, Ian Jukes, Ted McCain, and Lee Crockett explain that because students today lack a balance of digital and non-digital life experiences, it is important that educators transition from traditional methods of teaching to methods that target the learning preferences of this generation.

Here are a few ways to transition to a more modern approach in your classroom, specifically in regards to reading.

1. Visualization

Visualization is one strategy that can increase student interest in reading while improving reading comprehension. Visualization is the process or result of forming mental images while reading or listening to a story.

Students today typically process pictures sounds, color and video before text, so it’s critical to teach these techniques. In fact, more than 60 percent of students today are visual or visual kinesthetic learners (Jukes et al., 2010, p. 31).

It may be necessary to provide drawings, photographs, graphics, and dramatizations to help students learn how to visualize what they are reading. Eventually students will master this strategy and should be able to explain, create or find media, or act out the details of what they are reading with these edtech tools:

  • Creating comic strips might be a great way to help students summarize and represent what they have read. Try BitStrips for find another option in this collection of resources.
  • There are many different iPad apps that allow students to draw freely. My favorite is Tayasui Sketches. 

2. Relevance

Relevance is the perception that something is interesting and worth knowing. Students today prefer learning that is relevant, instantly useful and funYou can bring this into your classroom by connecting text to real world situations.

Ask students to reflect on their reading and identify ways in which it mirrors situations in their own lives or in current events. Then, question students about what can be learned from these connections. Allow students to share what they learn by writing in blogs, digital portfolios or other media outlets, such as:

  • Time for Kids is a great resource to help student connect with current events.
  • Kidblog is another free site that allows student to write and share with others.

More: 3 Best Online Resources for Promoting Student Reflection

3. Collaboration

Students want to be engaged and learn through exploration, interaction and collaboration. Provide students with a choice of reading materials and then ask them to participate in book clubs with others who chose the same text.

The key is that students must take ownership of these clubs and can use technology to create reading deadlines, participate in discussion groups, and hold each other accountable.

As the teacher, you must provide guidance while allowing students to explore, interact and collaborate on their own. Introduce them to these two tools, which will help them organize and collaborate.

  • Wunderlist is one of my favorite tools to use for collaboration. It allows multiple users to create to-do lists and tasks. The lists sync between the app and browser and group members can chat and message within the platform as well.
  • Google Apps for Education allows students to collaborate and connect. They can create word documents, presentations, and spreadsheets for collaboration and productivity.

More: 6 Top Rated Google Apps for Education

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