Whether you are teaching first grade, 4th grade, 8th grade or high school, I would be willing to bet that you have encountered some struggling readers in your classes. What can we do to help these learners? In the early years, we work on teaching the basics of letter/sound correlation, phonics and sight words. If a student seems to be struggling we use many different methods to reteach/remediate. As the learners get older this gap sometimes widens. If a student is struggling to read, he may well just give up, even though he can understand the content. Reading fluency is a major stumbling block for many students. It takes so much time to decode text that often the meaning is lost. As students read less, they learn less about language, so that as well as not comprehending the content assigned, their writing often suffers.
Technology can offer some tools to help students who struggle to read fluently. These tools vary from tools for students with vision issues, tools for students with cognitive disabilities to tools for students who read too slowly to keep up in class, to tools for students with dyslexia and other LD. These are simply tools, not a substitute for remediation of a vital skill, but can work hand in hand with remediation to help students read, write and comprehend content. There are many tools to help our learners. This is the first of several posts on this topic. Please add your comments, ideas, links to other tools in the comment section. The wiki will be updated later in the week with all the tools mentioned and more.
* Side Note- I removed the password from this blog. Please see me if this is a problem.
Students with Print/Physical or Cognitive Disabilities
Learning Ally and Bookshare are programs for students with print or physical disabilities. Books, including textbooks are delivered as audio via the web or an app. Learning Ally offers 80,000+ books, including books with audio read by people vs robotic voices. It has a teacher dashboard to keep track and document progress.. Students must have a documented visual, physical or learning disability (on the IEP, 504 plan or a doctor's note). Available thru the special education dept. See Maureen, Judi or Pat Bell to learn more about availability of seats.
Tar Heel Reader, a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces, including touch screens, the IntelliKeys with custom overlays, and 1 to 3 switches.
Need Variable Lexile Levels?
Books that Grow is a relatively new site. I think I first saw it on kickstarter. a few years back.
"An AWARD WINNING Digital Reading Platform With Books That Increase Or Decrease In Language Complexity Based On The Reader’s Abilities." It is growing, but has a very limited selection. Works online or iOS app.
Crack the Books Interactive Science Books with variable lexile levels. " Crack The Books™ science books are written in a conversational and whimsical style. They feature hundreds of supportive audio and visual elements including beautiful high definition photographs, integrated video footage, fun facts, custom animations and images, and interactive charts, tables and globes. There are comprehension supports built into the text, with pop up definitions for associated new vocabulary. Users can make adjustments for print size and customize voice over options within the app to accommodate students with disabilities or other limitations. All these multi-sensory features and adaptations lead to a richer understanding of the curriculum, and enable regular ed, special needs and gifted students alike to experience the subject matter as it connects to the real world.Crack The Books™ textbooks include built in comprehension questions, as well as summative tests and other interactive assessments to help teachers efficiently monitor students’ mastery of the concepts and their developing reading comprehension skills. These assessments will help educators track progress for each student. Since these assessments are graded within the app, educators will enjoy a significant time savings, as much of this critical assessment data is automatically collected for them."
These are iOS apps, not free ($29.99)
Newsela (now with Elementary Newsela)
"Read closely. Think critically. Be worldly.
Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news. " Now with more support for younger readers, Newsela is an easy way to assign informational text and readings about current events, with built in quizzes and more. Usually 3-5 lexile levels/article. Teacher dashboard. More data, etc, available with premium service
Smithsonian's Tween Tribune
"Welcome to TeenTribune, TweenTribune,TTEspañol and TTJunior – the daily news sites for kids, tweens and teens – where you'll find the most compelling, relevant and interesting news for 55 million kids in K-12 and their 3.5 million teachers.
Stories are selected by professional journalists working closely with teens, tweens and teachers. Teens and tweens can post comments, with all comments moderated by their teachers before they are published"
Read Works For reading comprehension
"ReadWorks provides research-based units, lessons, and authentic, leveled non-fiction and literary passages directly to educators online,for free, to be shared broadly.
The ReadWorks curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the standards of all 50 states. Most importantly, ReadWorks is faithful to the most effective research-proven instructional practices in reading comprehension."
Google Fluency Tutor is a chrome app. " Fluency Tutor™ for Google is an easy-to-use reading and assessment tool that helps busy teachers support struggling readers.
Great for time-stretched teachers, Fluency Tutor™ for Google lets students practice reading aloud at their own pace"
Flipping the Classroom or ??
"Embed a layer of questions, quizzes, and rich media annotations into any reading assignment. Track mastery of literacy skills and Common Core standards in real-time"
What is a curriculet?A curriculet is a digital layer of questions, quizzes and rich media, placed on top of any text. As students read a text, questions, quizzes and annotations (i.e. material that would normally be placed in worksheets) pop out of the text, so students are instructed and assessed as they read… at just the right moment." There is free material, but most of the books are to "rent". Teachers can also upload their own materials and questions, etc.
Actively Learn is a ... "digital reading platform for students. ... Our software helps teachers use great texts to promote deep learning and helps students explore texts to actively construct knowledge." Embed notes, questions and videos into reading. students must answer questions, write and collaborate Check out the short intro tutorials to get a feel for how this works. This is a great site- about half of the content is free, lexile levels are given for all materials.
Shmoop Homework Help and more. My students loved the reading guides for English and really used the history guides. Kind of goofy with the JibJab like heads, but useful
60 Second ReCap This is a site that divides books up into short (60 second) videos including an introduction, an overview, the context, the plot, characters, themes, motifs, symbols, and analysis along with short informational text. Unfortunately this site now has a lot of ads as well. I have used this site in the past with 8th graders to review the summer reading books- assigning the 60 second video sections to groups of students. This is not a reenactment of the story, but an analysis of it.
For a student who struggles with text, having a 60 second synopsis can really help scaffold the novels assigned.
Skimzee- A chrome app to summarize text online
Do you have tools to help struggling readers?
Share them in the comments.
TO BE CONTINUED...