Reading Skill Development and Assistive Technology
The world of education like the rest of the world is rapidly changing and evolving. To help educators keep pace with this change, we turn to the world of technology. Before I get too far, this post is not about how technology will be the answer for all of the issues facing education today, nor do I think that if you aren't using technology on a daily basis you aren't demonstrating good teaching. Technology is a tool that can enhance teaching and more importantly LEARNING when used appropriately.
In my new role as a tech integrator I have been exposed to some amazing new technologies. I have met with teachers who are adventurous and want to try the latest and greatest tech and tools. I also work with teachers who are reluctant to engage in the use of technology. I sometimes have to take a step back and analyze why teachers might now jump right in to the use of these amazing tech tools. Well this could be a whole post about getting the reluctant teacher to embrace technology. For time sake we will focus on the short version could be simply their lack of knowledge of what technology tools are even available. I think there are a lot of teachers who want to do more, but need to be exposed to the tools at their disposal. So today I put together a sampling of tools that could be used in the classroom to assist in reading skill development.
Upper Elementary and Middle School
NEWSLEA- Do you want your students to be more knowledgeable about the current events happening in the world around them? Do you struggle to find resources that are age appropriate for students? Well Newslea has created a site to assist you in and your students in this endeavor. Newslea is a site that offers news stories written for students and is capable of providing modified articles based on Lexile levels. https://newsela.com/
REWORDIFY- Rewordify is a site that allows the reader to insert a passage of text and it will convert the content into a simplified format by identifying difficult vocabulary words and rewriting those passages to include easier to understand verbiage. Teachers can insert text into rewordify and adjust the levels of difficulty. You are then able to print the text to provide students differentiated readings of the text. Students could take a passage they are working with online and insert this into rewordify to assist their understanding. rewordify.com/
READTHEORY- Readtheory is a site to assist with reading comprehension. The site is designed to help students work on their reading comprehension. There are over 1000 passages available to students. When students sign in using a username that you create when setting up your classroom account, they are able to select their level, typically based on their grade level. You could assist them in selecting their initial grade/reading level. When students are reading they are given quizzes at the end of the passage much like any standardized test you have ever seen. The cool thing about this site is as a teacher, you are able to see analytics of student progress. You will see information about student reading levels, how they are answering questions, and feedback about areas where they are having success and struggles. The program adjusts the students reading level according to their success with the quizzes. Students will see their level on the side of the screen to help inform them of their progress. http://readtheory.org/
CURRICULET- Curriculet is designed to work in conjunction with novels, many of them the classics like “Moby Dick”, or “The Scarlet Letter”. With this site you can use some free and some paid books to create guided reading tasks for your students. You are able to add video clips, annotations to help explain or ask students to think deeper about the passage, or multiple choice questions to have students do a check of their understanding. I have just started to explore this site, but I think it has potential to add depth of understanding. You can use or modify existing questions and quizzes, or start your own. https://www.curriculet.com/
“The Scarlet Letter” example https://www.curriculet.com/c/3435-the-scarlet-letter
Tweets as exit tickets- Have students explain what they have learned from today’s lesson in 140 characters. In other words have them create their own reflective tweet. https://www.dropbox.com/s/c3gp81hg6yln478/TweetsAboutTodaysLessonAFunExitPassToCheckStudentUnderstanding.pdf
Lower Elementary Resources
Matt Gomez is a Kindergarten teacher in Northern Dallas, and had created a plethora of resources for teachers to assist in their classroom practices. He has created several symbaloo list of resources for teachers to use with students.
The examples shared here are of e-books. Audio books that students can flip the pages and read themselves, or click the speaker button on the screen and have the book read to them.
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/uflbooks1 list of e-books
http://mattbgomez.com/170-online-ebooks-for-young-kids/ other e-books
Another exmample of e-books is http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/e-book1kinderchat this one is a little different in that actors read the story on video.
SCREENSHOT- Ever want to explain something using but were lacking the visual cues to help enhance the clarity of your instructions? Try using a screenshot of what you are trying to illustrate to your students, staff, parents etc. Mac users have had the advantage in creating annotated screenshots, but not anymore. There is a new Chrome extension that allows you to not only take screenshots. Yes you could take them of the entire screen before using printscreen, but now you can select just the area of the screen you desire. You can also add text, arrows, and other annotations to enhance the image to create a more descriptive visual.
SYMBALOO- Symbaloo- looks similar to launchpad- you create links to sites you use for your content areas. You can also share them with others as the examples above demonstrate. There are examples of this under the Lower Elementary e-book links above. Put resources all in one place.
FUR.LY- Fur.ly is another way to provide students with a mutlitude of resources that will assist them in gathering information, or completing projects all in one central location. http://fur.ly/ Here is an example http://fur.ly/b9xq from a sample science video project presented at WTI in Stevens Point Wisconsin by Karla Lockman science teacher at SPASH.