It appears that books will be still around for some time in our classrooms, whether in paper or some other form. Teachers and students can enhance the reading experience with some easy to use educational technology tools. Here are ten websites I selected for their usefulness, their navigational simplicity, and for the fact that they are all free!
Few things can bring books to life quite like reading aloud. With Bookster, kids can take adults out of the equation and gain role models along the way as they listen to other children narrate their favorite books. They’ll learn vocabulary words as they go, and when they’ve become confident in their skills, they can give reading aloud a whirl themselves with in-app voice recording.
Looking to increase reading comprehension while also teaching classic fables? Then Aesop’s Quest is the app for you. Students will read stories like that of the ant and the grasshopper, stopping along the way to answer questions and play games that draw on knowledge they should have acquired through reading. This is a fun, interactive way to help younger children read for depth rather than speed.
We loved the old Storia, and are just as excited about the new and improved version, scheduled for launch in early 2015. Storia provides access to hundreds of Scholastic books for the classroom. As a teacher, you can put together reading groups, allow children to create their own shelves, assign reading, track progress, and automatically quiz students for vocabulary learned and comprehension. It’s an individualized way to promote learning in the classroom at large.
For students who struggle with reading or attention, audiobooks can be a great companion to written texts. This is especially true for dyslexic students struggling to keep up with heavy homework loads. The industry leading Audible has thousands of titles available with excellent narration. Or, if you’d like to work with your local library instead, give the OverDrive app a whirl for access to eBooks, videos and audiobooks.
Reading is one thing, but how about actually understanding the greater context in which a work of literature was produced? With Gatsby’s Light’s Literature Analysis Guide, students will learn how to dig deep with poetry, prose and plays. Guides are available to provide context on different historical movements within literature, like Rationalism and Realism. There is analysis discussing everything from the foundations and ethics of each period down to the style of writing at the time. As such, this guide can be a great boon for writing as well, as readers become more attuned to the purposeful ways authors use their words and literary devices to communicate their unique messages. The guide can be accessed through both iTunes and Google Play, as well as through Amazon and YouTube, and can be used as a companion to current reading or on its own.
To read up or to read down? The reading life of a tween can be difficult for teachers, parents, and students to navigate. With the Best Books for Tweens app, 5th and 6th graders will have instant access to information and reviews on common tween books, which they can also bookmark for later or mark as read, so they can track their accomplishments. All lists can be emailed out, so the tween can receive praise from the people that matter most.
There was a time when carting around the entire Shakespeare canon required a well-developed pair of biceps. With Shakespeare pro, your students can take the Bard of Avon wherever they go with no more than a tablet. What’s more, the texts can be cross-searched for key phrases, and search itself is “soft,” so students will find what they’re looking for even when they search things like, “All the world’s a stage, and there are a lot of people on that stage” rather than the exact quote. That’s important point when it comes to navigating arcane English.
As students grow older (and standards grow ever more rigorous), they must master the skill of reading quickly without losing out on comprehension. Reading trainer helps high school students do just this with exercises that promote both speed and retention. Think of it as exercise for the eyes and brain.
For most students, taking notes while they read is essential in terms of retention. While students can annotate text in other eReading programs, with Marvin its easy to see all of those notes on a separate page. Notes sync with Dropbox as well, for extra convenience. What’s more, Marvin is one of the simplest, most intuitive and well-designed eBook readers on the market, making reading easy, interactive, and fun.
Ever wondered what it would sound like if Tina Fey had opted to go for her Literature PhD and then enter teaching? With Shmoop’s free literature guides, we have an answer. These guides are hilarious, written in a down-to-earth voice that students can relate to while still respecting the intelligence of everyone involved. They’re comprehensive, too. In fact, even Yertle the Turtle gets a complete rundown, with a section devoted to the characters, meaning, themes, quotes, deeper analysis, and even a rundown of where Yertle has been referenced across the web. Guides are available for picture books up through Shakespeare, and the site is adding more every day.
What are your favorite book apps to use in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below, through Twitter @dailybuzzes