Tag Archives: ActivelyLearn

Technology to Aid the Struggling Reader:

ISTE, Capstone, Amplify & School Library Journal are collaborating and hosting a webinar on how to leverage technology to help new and struggling readers.

I am honored to be part of this panel discussion along with

K.C. Boyd, Lead Librarian, East St.Louis (IL) School District

Cynthia Merrill, Literacy Consultant

and Moderator, Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal

During the webinar I will be sharing strategies and technology tools to aid struggling readers.

Technology tools that I use in my classroom to help support the diverse readers in my classroom include the reading platform Actively Learn. Actively Learn is an online tool with a library of thousands of texts and Common Core-aligned lessons that both teachers and students can interact with in real-time. In the reading platform, teachers assign pre-existing Actively Learn materials to students or upload their own content, then track student responses and activity using data tools within the platform. Students can interact with a text by digitally highlighting and annotating, responding to embedded questions and content, and leaving feedback and comments for peers. Students can translate the text in their home language and define unknown words within the platform. Students can mark their confusion within the text and the teacher is able to annotate the text with additional links for clarity and deeper meaning to support student reading. In my classroom I utilize Actively Learn weekly for Articles of the Week in order for students to make connections across texts and address current events.

Audio books are another tool beneficial to struggling readers. I love my Audible App on my phone and listen to books every chance I have including my commute to work and home. Listening to a text while reading can help students visualize and comprehend complex text. Students are using different skills when they are listening versus reading but research shows that students have a higher listening comprehension than reading comprehension. In addition, podcasts are great texts for students to listen to explore concepts and ideas. My favorite include NPR’s Radiolab podcasts and any podcast from author of Tools of Titans (2016), Tim Ferriss. Check out Tim’s Podcast with YA author Soman Chainani.

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Two great resources with more about technology tools and strategies to engage diverse student learners include  Jules Csillag‘s  Differentiated Reading Instruction and Robert Furman‘s Technology, Reading & Digital Literacy: Strategies to Engage the Reluctant Reader.
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Adventure Quests: Learning About Current Events & the World

An Adventure Quest is a mission with an objective. A quest is a long and arduous search for something.

Currently, my students are working on an investigative journalism unit, so I created an Adventure Quest based on current events addressed in the news each week.

With the use of ActivelyLearn.com, Twitter, and Google Forms I created a series of Trivia type questions. Each week one question is posted on my Teacher Website and students submit their answers on a Google Form. Each question is worth 50 XP or Experience Points. Additional GP or Gold Points points could be earned by the die- hard fans by going onto Twitter and searching the hashtag #RMS8RQuest to find more Adventure Quest Questions. The student with the most points at the end of the Adventure Quest, earns an additional 1,500 XP Classcraft Points PLUS a Treasure (a gift card).

Each week students log on to Actively Learn and read an Article of the Week. Both the Article of the Week and this Adventure Quest are optional homework.  I do not give homework in my class but encourage students to read to build their reading skills and knowledge about the world.

Actively Learn is a digital reading platform that contains books, articles, poems, and speeches. Students join a “classroom” created by their teacher to read assigned digital texts and complete assignments within the workspace. Actively Learn offers teacher designed assignments with ready made questions or teachers can design their own questions and prompts.

The articles that students have read read for the Adventure Quest include

Anthony Cuthbertson’s Newsweek Article “APPLE CEO TIM COOK REJECTS ORDER TO UNLOCK SAN BERNARDINO GUNMAN’S IPHONE”

NPR’s RadioLab Podcast on the Galapagos

Mark Jeffries article on Why We Don’t Wipe Mosquitoes Off the Face of the Earth”

To address International Women’s Day Ann A. Simmon’s article “Women Around the World Still Have a Long Way to Go”

The Twitter quests are not based on readings but events happening in the news that specific day, hence they are worth less points. Twitter questions have included Who did President Obama nominate for Supreme Court? and What Lego mini figure was unveiled this week?

Many of my students have been excited and enthusiastic to participate in the Adventure Quest. It is completely optional and has brought about healthy competition among many of my students.  I have a Leaderboard  or score board posted in my classroom for students to see who is on top.

I am going to have to create a really difficult question to break the quadruple tie that is happening right now!

Adventure Quests are fun side activities for motivated or motivating students to learn about a specific topic. The Adventure Quest that I planned fit seamlessly into my classroom since the trivia questions evolved based on what was happening in current events. Students were reading more and paid attention to what was happening in the news and the world around them.

Adventure Quests can be adapted to any content area. Students are in charge of their own learning and it helps them engage with content material in a new way.

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