14 Aug

Reading with technology – an update!

This post is an update to the most popular post on this site – Guided Reading on the iPad. This post has been read thousands of times, and lots of the apps and ideas there are still relevant, but times are changing and I thought it would be interesting to revisit at why using a tablet like device can be beneficial for reading. I won’t go through the activities and ideas in detail, instead I’ll look at what else has been happening with technology and reading in the classroom.

Not just the iPad

Much of the two year old post was based on my work which was specific to iPads. My experiences have now been across chrome, android and kindle devices. Much of what I wrote about in my initial post still rings true and there is now a huge increase in apps available for all platforms, and indeed all devices can be seen in the classroom.

Group work:

if you are organised into groups, tablet devices work very well. Many of the apps detailed in the previous post are now available for android, including the fab Explain Everything (which as I write this is also coming to Chrome) and there are some really great apps out there for testing word skills, spelling, sentence structure etc. Obviously it depends what your focus is, but I know that with the increased focus on spelling and grammar many great apps are appearing that would work great as a paired activity.

 

Some of the new iPad apps i've bee using

 

  • Alan Peat’s apps include grammar references, word play games and references for the national curriculum. iPad and android. Works very well on small screens.
  • Puppet Pals on the iPad has had a complete overall with Puppet Pals 2 – and is jam packed with even more features.
  • Book Creator is now also available on Android, and remains a brilliant way to get children to create something quickly, or work as a group to repsond to something
  • Google apps have a wide variety of word processing, comic creating, animating etc. The collaborative nature of these, as well as the way in which teachers can be involved make them ideal for responding to text work (interviewing, imagining endings and so on).
  • Web sites such as Oxford Owls who have online books, with partners and tasks such as reviewing orquestioning each other children can get alot from these services.
Individual work

Putting aside the individual scope for production and creation eBooks with features such as dictionaries, links to other books and read along (or aloud) features are now mich more common. Kindles have worked very well in my experience alongside the traditional classroom library, can be seen as a reward (though not always!) and borrowed by children who may benefit. Alternatively a class reader on the kindle, then used with targeted readers has also worked very well. Motivation, easier to read text (often resulting in a feeling that they are reading more) and cheaper books. Kindles are also much cheaper than some tablets, and don’t have so much distraction (though they are online now) – turning parental controls on however is a very simple process. Other than that publishers are coming round to putting books out electronically, and they can be a huge space saver in the classroom.

There has been a huge increase in story telling apps. Many I discussed already elsewhere on this site – I always enjoy reviewing these as some of them are absolutely gorgeous. There have been some great new ones as well. Mr Glue is an iPad app which supports the retelling and creation of books. Me Books is a fabulously creative book app on both android and iPad. Story telling apps should all now include recording, breat voice acting, recording of your own, and some level of control over how the narrative paces. It’s worth asking the developer for a free trial before you commit the school!

Mr Glue Stories - easy and fun

 

I hope this update proves useful for those of you using digital technologies in the classroom. Please let me know what you’ve found useful in the classroom!


Resources:

What is guided reading? A guide from Scholastic!

Top Tips for using Kindles in the Classroom

 

10 Jan

Don’t Forget… e-reading!

As part of a review of the year it occurred to me that there were plenty of apps, programmes and ideas that shouldn’t get lost over time, but are often overlooked. So I thought a ‘don’t forget series’ might remind teachers of what is out there.

Number 3 : E-Reading

 

Strange, I know, but with the number of devices in a typical school these days it’s easy to forget that every single one of them could be used as a platform for books. The iPad and Guided Reading Post is still, after nearly two years, one of the top read posts of this site- so I know that people still see the iPad as a platform, but there is so much more you can do with computers, laptops and chromebooks.

On tablets the Kindle app is great for books – books can be cheaply bought for the app, and it allows notes taking, book marks and the usual tools such as a dictionary and read-aloud.

 

  • Talking Stories – great for language, vocabulary, creativity

With headphones children can access a wide world of story telling – most of it incredible high quality and usually free. Start your search here, at the ever excellent Woodland Junior Site, Many of these stories come with games to play alongside – such as the excellent Clifford at Scholastic. The Children Books Online site also offer an ever changing selection. The quality can vary though, so do check. There is an excellent site, currently free,  – Storyline Online which offers books being read aloud on video. A slightly different approach, but with great results.

wpid-Photo-20140429204436.jpg

The Comic app by Made in Me – Me Comics

 

 

  • Just books

There are, of course, options of just accessing books – and whether it is leacing an open book on the computer for children to access or setting homework there are many to find. Some can be American-English, so always have a read through first (or get older children to review them for you!)

Children’s Storybooks on MagicKey

 

  • Creating books

On iPad, books can be easily using apps such as Book Creator – but there are other ways of creating images and adding sound – such as Explain Everything. Some apps also allow you to create books within them  – Collins Big Cat are great examples of this. Some paid services such as Pearson TikaTok also offer a platform for children to write and be published.

 

Some ideas:

  • Older children, or digital leaders, can review books and then share them with younger children.
  • Often the authors site will contain extracts, or section read by the author – these can be a great way in to a story.
  • Check with any reading schemes you use – they often have online areas to share books.
  • Sites will also offer books in other languages – great for practise!
  • Share with parents! What you find useful in school may be just what a parents is looking for!

 

Resources:

Scholastic Storia

An excellent article here by the British Council

A digital Frankenstein

Oxford Owl

Storyline Online