10 February 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Guest Post: Teaching Reading with Modern Tech Tools

Author: Reece Jones  @r_am_jones 

The Evolving Age for Literacy Skills Development

The combination of modern technology and effective reading instruction produces very meaningful results. Educators from all over the world have been making use of high-tech gadgets and lightning fast internet speeds to aid them in teaching kids the wonders of reading. Literacy instruction, among many other areas of teaching, evolved as society gets ‘plugged in’ and ‘wired’. The traditional classroom is no longer bound by four walls; learning can be done outside the confines of the school.

For reading teachers, one of the challenges remains creating engagement and interest within the students. Fortunately, technology brought about tools that can be easily incorporated in the traditional learning setup. The internet provides a wide array of resources – written, spoken, or visual. Below are some of the most exciting and effective tools to help teach reading.

Fundamental Skills-Honing Apps and Software

There are many apps and free downloadable software that reinforce the fundamental English and reading skills of students. These games include mechanics that hone:

  • Sentence mastery
  • Word construction
  • Sequencing
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary

More importantly, these apps are designed with audio that helps in remembering the correct pronunciation of words; association between words, images, and sound is an all too important skill which should be emphasized by teachers of young kids.

Verizon includes two apps on its best educational app list which are great tools for teaching reading.

  • Brain Pop is an animated and cartoon-style app which provides tons of educational resources in reading comprehension (and other subjects) both for students and teachers.
  • Copia is a social networking app with emphasis on giving e-reading materials for learners of any age.

Other noteworthy reading games are the following:

Gary’s Place tells the story of a delightful gopher and his adventures. This charming little storybook app helps young kids practice reading through a simple yet engaging story.

iSort Words helps out with homonyms and word families. Children will develop faster word recognition while having fun with this reading and spelling app.

Digital Thesauri, Dictionaries, and Atlases

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model enables a more dynamic and interactive learning experience, especially with tools such as tablets containing digital versions of dictionaries, thesauri and atlases. What’s great about these modern reincarnations of our traditional books is the visual and interactive aspect of it. For example, a single word entry’s proper pronunciation may be easily learnt just with a single tap on the screen. Similarly, there is no need to scour the thousands of pages of a dictionary to look for the meanings of synonyms. There are free online dictionaries and thesauri which can be accessed on WiFi enabled classrooms.

Examples of reliable apps in this category.

Each can be previously installed on the students’ devices.

Merriam-Webster

Oxford Dictionary

FreeSaurus

National Geographic World Atlas

Barefoot World Atlas

 

Audio Books and Publications

Recorded books or audio books can provide an alternative way for students to appreciate literature. The teacher should be proactive and make steps to ensure students receive the best reading (or in this case ‘hearing’) materials. Collate audio files and visual materials into a single dashboard or hub for the class. Pinterest, a social networking site, provides a great platform for online meetings for classes to share and interact.

More than just the obvious complementary relationship between technology and education, there are more benefits that result from this combination. Learning disabilities such as dyslexia can be accommodated by technological tools and practices.

The National Assessment of Educational Press conducted a study concluding that reading for entertainment actually boosts academic performance. For dyslexics who have a hard time reading traditional books, alternative methods should keep them up to par with their peers in terms of academics.

Possible resources of digital resources for dyslexics include:

Project Gutenberg, a collection of classic reads such as Charles Dickens and Aesop

Books Should Be Free, bestselling books that are in the public domain. This cornucopia of literary goodness has materials for young ones, teens, and adults.

StoryNory is the best place to download spoken fantasy literature. Teachers of dyslexic students might want to check out this wide collection of read fairytales, myths, and fables.

Web-based learning opens more doors for genuine interest in the many subjects in school, reading being one of them.

Question: I would love to know, how you using technology to teach and aid students’ reading abilities? Share with us your thoughts on the comments section.

Reese Jones is very passionate when it comes to Ed-tech. She has been participating in various events related to the spreading of technology education in her area. A freelance writer and self-confessed geek, Reese is soon to acquire her degree in education in the soonest future. Talk to her on Twitter and Google+.

 

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