Monday, August 18, 2014

Ten Tech Tips To Spice Up Summer Reading

Source: ASIDE, 2014

Most kids (and teachers) hate summer reading. They view it as a chore, an unnecessary evil, a relic of schoolhouse drudgery. Even students who love to read groan at prescriptive lists of books that will receive little attention once the academic year begins. Even when offered a choice of titles, students drag their heels in completing linear book reviews or reader-response journals.

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This is because in their active lives, kids are multitasking on social media while setting up Minecraft servers. They don't understand why summer work should force them to take a step back in time and technology. In order to spice up their summer literary lives, why not let students savor some easy tech ingredients, to make reading a zestier part of their wired worlds?

1. Animated book trailers - Instead of a book report, invite students to create animated book trailers to advertise their favorite titles to friends. Adobe Voice and Vine are perfect options for free, fast, embeddable movie-making.

2. Remote book clubs - Children regularly see their parents laughing in living room book clubs. Kids can form their own real-time remote clubs via Skype or FaceTime, to network and debate with classmates even while on vacation.

3. Journal blogs - Rather than relying on paper and pen, kids can publish their thoughts via personal blogs and then comment on peers' posts. Kidblog is a safe and self-contained option, with teacher-controlled classes to monitor conversations.

4. Character infographics - Visual thinkers and graphic artists will love making infographics of themes and events. and Piktochart are flexible platforms to unleash creative potential in ranking events and rating characters.

5. Chapter podcasts - Many learners prefer audio books, so why not encourage students to record their own podcasts? Audioboo, for example, will let kids embed recordings of chapters or reviews, to disseminate to classmates underneath their Beats headphones.

6. Twitter chats - Teachers can set up unique hashtags around specific questions, to unite students in online chats. Twitter will then serve as a permanent archive of notes and quotations, to tap for further discussion once the school year begins.

7. Virtual pinboards - Symbolism and visual metaphor can be difficult to teach. Virtual pinboards such as Pinterest offer fun ways for students to curate and share pictures that connect to specific plot points or motifs.

8. E-reader magazines - Any type of reading counts as reading, so instead of limiting kids' choices to a few books, schools can open up the options to magazines, newspapers, and graphic novels. E-readers like Kindles and Nooks provide portability and bookmarks for easy access.

9. Plot comics - Boiling down a book's plot to a few cartoon panels is harder than in sounds. Web tools like ToonDoo present a range of settings and personalities to capture key events, or even invent alternate endings to a novel's action.

10. Original fan fiction - The best follow-up to reading is writing, and many students love penning their own fan fiction to continue the interplay of favorite characters. Wattpad is a popular publishing site for young wordsmiths.

If you have any other suggestions to enhance summer's literary recipe, please share them. We'd love to hear more engaging tech ideas!


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