There will not be many of these. As we have been focusing on the links and sites, in this post we wanted to turn our attention to strategies again. Ideas. We don’t want to be eCoaches who are just known (are we?!) for lists of links. So, here we look at a few ideas. They are based on the Reading Milestones, earlier in this series, and the DareDevil Missions from our book, TechnoTeaching, Taking Practice to the Next Level in a Digital World. In case you are concerned about learning being impacted by screens in a negative way, or on the other hand, believe that screens can improve results in reading instruction, here are some Missions to encourage reading with no screen time to start …
Age 7-8: Creating Confident Readers
Reading Support: Encourage your child to read & read easy books.
Dare Devil Mission: Create mini-libraries for your readers
Why? You are now asking young readers to read books, either by sharing them with you, or reading them on their own. But with so many children’s books in the world, how will you choose? Begin by finding out which subjects interest the children you are working with and what subjects they want to learn more about. (Also encourage discussions about possible titles with your school librarian and fellow-teachers at break time.) By offering children a range of titles, you are helping them develop their skimming and selection skills. In other words, you will be giving them a chance to voice opinions and have a sense of ownership over what they read with you and on their own.
Children in this age group are ready to decide what they want to read, and can do so independently. They are also ready to start bedtime routines in which reading plays a central role.
Tools: Create a reading box, shelf, bookmark and/or online folder to help organise children’s favourite books—ones they have selected themselves. Ask them 'new' questions about their dog-eared favourites to help them seem them in a different light. You might even refer to a book they read two years ago. This time asked them about the representation of the characters and themes. What might be a good alternative ending?
In a similar vein, find eBook versions of children’s early years books and ask them to switch roles with you; now that they can read them aloud to you! Capture their reading using a camcorder. Or ask children to ‘play’ the part of a character and interview them. Alternatively you could do a ‘#Mystery Skype’ with learners guessing who the character is, if you have a game teacher or parent volunteer who is willing to dress up and be interviewed via web cam! Otherwise record the interview yourself and play/pause in the lesson so children can guess what character is speaking.
If you have strong feelings about using edtech (or not) with children in this age range, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Our last two blog posts have been aimed at the under-5-year-olds. Now we want to look at the over-5s. The school age children. When it comes to searching online for resources––this is where the money can be made so it’s not surprising that there are heaps of products. From guidance offered by school inspectors (the UK’s Ofsted), to ‘Free Educational Apps’, to creating ‘old school’ style reading flip charts, you can now use technology to find everything you need––and a few things you don’t.
Therefore here will illustrate our favourites and how they fit alongside both our TechnoTeacher “Daredevil Missions” and the reading milestones from our previous blog.
Age 5-6: Heads Down for Reading
Reading Support: Have fiction and nonfiction books & magazines available. Visit museums & libraries.
Dare Devil Mission: Explore the idea of genre while learning outside the classroom.
Why? At this point in a children’s learning, you will want them to be able to read letters, words, and sentences from the page. You can help them learn how by opening up the new ‘worlds’ of literature.
Begin by inviting children into the grown up world of culture. Help them understand that knowledge is valued in our society, and that as readers you are giving them the key to unlocking new worlds.
Tools: Seek out the best examples of local libraries and museums. Find out which have events to take in, and which have the best children’s section.
You can also ask children to design their own museum! Similarly, if you have a school library, encourage students to take real ownership by asking them what they can do to improve it.
Alternatively, you can use electronic research to find a book online, sorting by genre, author, or title. Consider different types of books, from reference material (“Guinness World Records” for example) to comic books. Then ask children to create their own mini-books based on what they like. Show them how to create their own comics (using 'Comic Life'), for example. Or try clicking on the “Guinness World Record” site and have children create comprehension questions they might ask another student, based on what they learned.
If you want to encourage first steps into museums, begin with the ones where you live. Do they have any family or exhibits geared specifically for children? You can also research national museums to find out what they offer online. Many will have online museum tours and games. For example, the The Natural History Museum in London has a great ‘What type of dinosaur are you?' quiz on their website. Similarly, the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City, has an app called ‘Power of Poison’, which can deepen and enrich children’s understanding of the exhibit.
Taking this exploration one step further, you could videoconference a team member of the museum for a Q&A session with your class, using Skype or Skype Classroom. Not only will this virtual visit cut out the paperwork for an actual trip, but it might also help forge a new relationship with an outside organisation.
If you have another other apps or websites that you would like to share,please add a comment below!
N & J x
In our last blog post, we looked at technology to support early reading skills in 3-4 year olds. This time, reader, we are looking at 4-5 year olds - preschoolers in UK and US terms. This is an interesting group, as many will be ‘schooled’ in technology at home, more than with their childcare.
As a result, the Internet is full of mixed viewpoints, research and . . . anxiety, to be honest. From cautionary articles like ‘The iPad Is Stealing My Son’s Childhood’ to print-books-only blogs that give ‘Tips for Reading to the Age of 5’, there is a real mixture out there folks. Therefore, we think if you are reading this, you are probably looking for support and ideas. I cannot stress too much, as a mummy to a three-year-old, that there needs to be a balance. My child is also a boy and I am more than aware of the ‘news’ headlines that link screen time to ADHD. Therefore my son is allowed to ‘play’ on my iPhone, but the apps I let him use are all aimed at language skills and motor skills. He is on a tight leash - not literally - poor dear. Well, Mummy is a teacher . . .
I prefer to look at blogs like kidsactivitiesblog.com, where there are heaps of great ideas for play time with kids - from science projects, toy car maths, and name games (big in our house), and reading. Therefore we hope you have balance and not going with 100% screen time in your house (or even 10%) for 4-5 year olds. But when they are allowed, here are some great sites that we have found to help teach them to engage with reading.
Ages 4-5 Pre-Schoolers Pads and Pods
Reading Support: Call attention to letters on signs. Talk about letter sounds (“Mom & milk both have ‘mmm’ sound at the beginning,” for example).
Dare Devil Mission: Reinforce decoding and phonics concepts using online resources.
Why? By using ‘reading materials’ around you (signs and names of streets and stores) you can help children learn to decode the words they discover in their immediate world. Show them how to work out which words rhyme and which letters make what sounds. This type of auditory and visual training is an important step in learning to read! Online materials can help you develop these important building blocks for reading.
Tools: Look at the best toddler word building and rhyming apps and online shows. For example, ‘Alphablocks’ and ‘Sesame Street’ have a range of episodes that focus on rhyming and building words. You can also take look at electronic toys, like Leap Pads. The ‘Letter Factory’ is a favourite of many little ones. Also find out what is available in the App store. Instead of just ‘feed the animal’ games, try more challenging ones like ‘Dr. Seuess’ and similar titles that encourage young readers to interact whilst they listen to the story (and who doesn’t like ‘The Cat in the Hat’?).
Similarly, try introducing children to books that also have videos/ TV/ theatrical shows that they can start to get involved in. Ken Nesbitt's poetry is a great example. His website has a range of activities and links to get you started.
‘Reading Eggs’ is a favourite around the globe. While it is not free (it requires a subscription), we have heard directly from schools and parents that it really does the trick. ‘Reading Eggs’ is available for iPads and Androids, and has a range of printable resources.
If you have any more suggestions for this age range or comments on 4-5 year olds and screen time, please post them below. Also if you are a parent and/or teacher, we would love to hear the ‘different’ sides of your experience. Do parents need more information on this topic or less? Who do you trust when it comes to early reading and media?
The other day I (Julie) came across a graphic that stopped me in my tracks. After studying how children learn to read as a teacher (and as an academic) and the various benchmark goals we expect them to master along the way, here at last was a quick summary that captured some of the major benchmarks. Titled “A Developing Reader’s Journey to Third Grade,” this graphic reminds us of the stages a typical reader passes through, and when.
Well, that’s grand, Nicole and I thought after I shared it with her. But surely there’s a role that new technologies can play? And how can we make becoming a reader even more engaging by adding new media to the equation? Given the wealth of available resources, how can we expect busy teachers to find the time to make informed decisions?
That’s where we come in. We are keen to illustrate the power of digital tools in helping your students progress through these key stages. And while we are techno-enthusiasts (while still fans of paper and print), we are not advocating that electronic games, iBooks, and video consoles should ever replace the time you spend reading a traditional book with a child. Some things, like scrolling, cannot beat the joy and wonder of turning a page in a book, and we are told (in scare-mongering headlines) that unlimited screen time can result in obesity, aggression and lack of sleep (although, arguably, poor teaching and a child’s home context contribute to these problems as well). Balance is the key.
Our aim is to share with you some of the digital resources we’ve discovered that can deepen and enrich your early reading instruction. If you add a few of these ideas to your routine in a balanced way, they can open new digital literacy worlds for early readers!
Now, many of you are already sophisticated users of edtech, or you wouldn’t be reading our blog. That’s why I (Nicole) have designed a “Dare Devil Mission” for you to try at each reading milestone. These missions, which we describe more fully in our book “TechnoTeaching, Taking Practice to the Next Level in a Digital World,” will challenge you to take that extra step; a step that involves sharing your own love of reading, children’s literature, and new ways of seeing the world.
Right this way . . . Let’s start with beginning readers. In our next blog post we’ll focus on children ages 4-5, and eventually work our way up to 8-year-olds. We will start with my (Nic’s) age group and work up. (If you want us to look at the younger years, just pop a post below!)
Becoming a Reader: Toddler Tappers: Age 3-4
Support: Point to pictures and words as you read. Play rhyming games.
Mission: Use moving image and audio to encourage experimentation with sounds and introduce phonics.
Why? By repeating known words and spending time explaining new words, you are can significantly extend children’s vocabularies. Children enjoy rhymes––they are fun and young readers can practice rhyming pairs (fun/run; Jill/hill) independently once you have modeled a few. Promise.
Tools: TV shows like CBeebies ‘Rhyme Rockets’ illustrate how words sound similar to one another. Also, ‘RaaRaa The Noisy Lion’ has a range of products, including DVDs, which complement Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds. ‘Ooo Ooo’ the monkey introduces the phonetic alphabet to young ears; if you can introduce the phonetic alphabet along with the visual ‘old school’ one, you will again be giving young readers boost in terms of their reading toolset.
The Endless Reader app has bright and comical ‘monster’ animations to teach ‘sight words,’ which can be hard to sound out. Also, many sight words, such as that and there, cannot be illustrated with images. These animations amuse young readers while teaching them how words sound and how they fit into sentences.
Listening, repeating, and creating physical movements to nursery rhymes (audio and animated) is not only fun, but also demonstrates literary techniques like alliteration (think of Mother Goose’s “Three gray (for the USA and grey for outside!) geese in a green field grazing”). Nursery rhymes can also introduce children to new vocabulary. Popping a CD on when mummy is driving to a club, or reading/listening to children's poetry, like Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo, as part of daily life really helps preschoolers move to the next rung on the literacy ladder.
If you have any apps or websites you would add here, please share them so all of our readers can access them. Or if you have a strong viewpoint on using apps with the early reader, please let us know!
Thank you to all the Mummies and teachers that 'rated' these apps so that you can use them. We appreciate this more than we can say xxxxx
N & J x
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This is where Jules and Nic will post articles, links to interesting sites and things that we think our TechnoTeachers will like.