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.