Back in 2001, when I started as a teacher, the technology boom was in its nascent stage. I remember toting a large bag filled with papers home most nights and going to sleep drowning under a vast sea of student homework that needed grading. My classroom was even worse, cluttered with books, manipulatives, globes, maps, and learning stations that left little room for anything else. However, as I write this in 2018, things have changed dramatically. Today’s teachers have edtech in their corners.
Digital teaching and learning tools have streamlined education processes and provide learning experiences that stretch far beyond the materials that were available for me back in 2001. Early childhood and elementary education teachers who are struggling to help emerging readers become literate have access to tens of thousands of digital tools that have been created to solve their problem. Now, the gift of reading can be extended to everyone.
As a result, I expect to see a drop in the prison population in the coming decades. Why? Because when prison corporations have to decide how many new prison cells to build, they use the number of students who cannot read at grade level as a measuring stick. Sad, but entirely true. With the proliferation of digital tools to solve the literacy problem, the amount of illiterate K-12 students is sure to fall, which hopefully decreases the prison population. Knowledge is power. If I were still in the classroom today, I’d use these literacy apps, tools, and resources:
FunBrain– FunBrain comes with hundreds of free interactive books, videos, games, and printed material that help kids from Pre-K to 8 years old develop and master math, literacy, problem-solving, and reading skills. Vital skills and subject areas such as fractions, addition, shapes, and vowel sounds are included in each book, game, and video to give parents and educators a sense of confidence in the learning process.
Imagine Learning– Imagine Learning provides award-winning educational software to thousands of students around the globe. It provides a solution to literacy and language issues. Imagine Learning provides students with individual instruction on various activities particularly designed to meet their personal needs and provide a real outcome. The essence of our business is to find solutions to our customers’ issues.
Lexia PowerUp Literacy– Lexia® PowerUp Literacy™ is made for middle school students to help them master their reading skills. Working with typical reading lessons, teachers can use this app to fill in learning gaps, allowing student to practice skills such as comprehension, analyzation, evaluation, and comparison. It allows for online and offline activity, to be available for all students’ learning needs and activity levels. This can be used in combination with Lexia® Core5® Reading and Lexia® RAPID™ Assessment to optimize reading experiences and reading groups in schools.
Polly: Amazon’s Polly program is a text-to-speech app that sounds more natural than many of the others. This could be an ideal way to help below-grade readers to improve their literacy. The text-to-speech software allows them to hear each word while they follow along. Students might finally be able to catch up with these assistive technologies for literacy.
ThinkFluency: This is an assessment tool designed to help students develop reading fluency. Teachers can spend less time assessing their students and more time teaching them. To get started, the teacher sets up an account and then adds classes and their students. The teacher can set individual words-per-minute (WPM) goals for each student or use the app’s grade-specific recommendation instead. The real-time analytics feature allows teachers to track errors and correct them as they listen to the their students’ recorded reading sessions.
LibroVox: Access more than 50,000 audiobooks for students that you can download once for later use. These could be a great way to inspire struggling readers to pick up a book. After all, it is much easier to follow along than it is to attempt to read it all on your own.
Whooo’s Reading – The goal of Whooo’s Reading is accelerated reading comprehension and improved writing skills. By using open-ended questions instead of the standard true/false and multiple choice style, students are required to think independently about texts. The Whooo’s Reading program automatically reminds students to improve their writing by asking them to cite evidence or answer all the parts of a question. Teachers can monitor student’s reading with automatic quiz results, graded by the Whooo’s Reading app, available in the teacher dashboard. To increase student motivation, students earn Wisdom Coins for reading and writing. These can be spent on accessories and items for their Owlvatars (owl avatars).
BiblioNasium– A website exclusively for children between the ages of 6 and 13. It aims to promote the reading habit among children. Equipped with peer and parental controls, it presents an effective and stimulating program for the user. Using this app, you can adapt reading to fit the child’s need, monitor his/her reading log, and help the child explore a variety of reading genres. Reading data is saved online and is always accessible.
Curriculet– This reading platform aims at overhauling and changing the way children study and the way teachers teach. Programmed questions and instructions pop up while a child is reading a text from the class. Using this tool, teachers can personalize the reading experience for their students; it also helps them to create and share the contents of their study digitally.
Kids A-Z– Children can select from a library of eQuizzes, eBooks, and hundreds of developmentally appropriate eResources by using the Kids A-Z mobile app. Students can complete corresponding quizzes to improve their comprehension skills and use interactive annotation tools that aid in the development of close reading skills. Kids A-Z mobile app is a must-have for kids that have access to Raz-Kids, Science A-Z, Headsprout, or Raz-plus.
Did we miss any?