Monday, January 8, 2018

Technology, reading and digital literacy - finding books

As an ISTE member I have the benefit of choosing an ISTE book each year to download, and this year I chose the book Technology, Reading and Digital Literacy by L. Robert Furman.  I share an office on the elementary campus of my school with the literacy coach and with 2 iCommons coaches, and so I thought that this book would be a great one for all of us to discuss, since we are all working on digital literacy.

In the introduction to his book, Furman explains that teachers need to understand technology in order to provide students with the tools they need to be successful - in particular because the volume of information is so huge and because the platforms through which students learn are ever changing.  Future success is likely to depend on being excellent communicators of knowledge - and to do this students need to be proficient readers.  Our students are very at home in a virtual environment and teachers can use online tools to teach reading and digital literacy, which meets both literacy standards as well as the technology benchmarks contained in the ISTE Standards for Students, such as collaborating with others, finding and using information, managing projects and solving problems.

One issue discussed by Furman is that students often don't have a rich exposure to books - therefore it is our job as teachers to share with them our enthusiasm, interest and expertise in children's books.  Furman suggests a number of different tools that teachers can use to help students find books.  These include Book Wizard, Listbuilder, Goodreads and Storia.  I thought I'd also share some online tools we subscribe to at ASB:
  • Big Universe - An engaging online reading and writing community for elementary students. Students can read fiction and non fiction books, listen to read-alouds and create their own stories. With more than 10,000 levelled eBooks from over 40 publishers that are tightly integrated with tools for writing, speaking, listening, and language use, Big Universe is your one-stop solution for balanced literacy models. Use on any device, anytime, for almost any learning situation from independent reading or group instruction to special education, ELL, after school enrichment, and more.
  • BookFlix - A collection of fiction and nonfiction texts to support Literacy for readers and learners. With colourful animation, rich audio, and interactive games, BookFlix is a perfect tool to engage and support beginning readers. Built-in literacy support tools–including read aloud and word highlighting–cultivate key literacy skills, support beginning and ELL readers, and build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • TumbleBooks - an online collection of animated, talking picture books that young children will love.  TumbleBook Library has over 1100 titles for grades K-6, including read-along chapter books, national geographic videos, non-fiction books, playlists, as well as books in Spanish and French. The collection also features Graphic Novels and Math Stories.
  • Raz-Kids - Online guided reading program with over 400 interactive ebooks, downloadable books, and reading quizzes. The books are levelled, spanning 29 levels, and include books in Spanish.  New books are added every month.
  • Lerner Digital - Provides a valuable resource to help support student learning and reading improvement. Designed to support literacy improvement for struggling readers, Lerner Interactive Books feature fun activities and resources to extend the reading experience and inspire students to read more and more often. Lerner Interactive Books offer nonfiction and high-interest books for K-5 in multimedia format designed to improve key literacy skills for emergent and struggling readers.
  • Capstone Interactive Library - includes an online collection of up to 450 enhanced digital books and provides reading practice time over the Internet. Each book includes audio that reads the text aloud, and embedded online activities to extend the learning environment.
How do you support students, especially struggling and reluctant readers, to find books?  What tools would you recommend to help students develop digital literacy?

Photo Credit: US Department of Education Flickr via Compfight cc

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