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Last Updated: Jan 10th, 2011 - 11:11:15

Technology in the Classroom  


Increase Your Students' Reading Skills
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Apr 15, 2008, 08:35 PST



Increase your student's reading skills with these great Internet tools

Increase Your Students' Reading Skills

With These Great Internet Tools

 

This section is a companion to the August 16th Call For Help show seen on Tech TV.  ClassBrain's Cynthia Kirkeby was the guest speaker.

 

The Internet seems to be all about reading, but are there really any tools out there to help our kids read better? We think there are. The following are Internet tools that can help your students improve their reading skills, often with a lot of fun along the way.

 

PRINTABLE ABC PAGES AND LETTER WORKSHEETS

 

ClassBrain has created a set of printable ABC coloring pages and we've located some wonderful ABC coloring collections elsewhere on the Internet. Simply pick your favorites, print them out, and have fun coloring with the kids.

 

One of the first steps to reading is recognizing letterforms.  Use our language worksheets to help students identify the correct letter.

 

BOOK FINDERS

 

The Book Adventure Foundation has a wonderful program that recommends books based on four simple questions.  The Book Finder's recommendations are based on:  the child's grade level; whether the book should be at grade level (or above or below it); whether the book is fiction or nonfiction; and the types of books they like to read.  After filling in these items, the child gets a list of suggested books.  If your students register, they can take quizzes on the books they read to check their comprehension.  This is currently a free resource.

 

The California Reading List has developed a book finder to assist parents and students in selecting books that correspond with a child's ability to read.

 

ONLINE INTERACTIVE STORIES

 

Our favorite choice for interactive stories is BBCi's The Little Animals Activity Centre.  Their new Story Bear section has stories that can be read or listened to online which are fully interactive. There's lots of fun in the simple stories and activities along the way.

 

Mighty Book has stories that children can read online. The site is broken down by age: 2-4, 4-6, 6-8, 8-10,and preteen.  For the most part, the site seems most appropriate for young readers.  Each of the stories is illustrated and has attached audio.  The student then can read along while the story is being read to them. This is a wonderful site for young readers.

 

Between the Lions is a PBS site for kids who are learning to read. There are numerous online stories for them to explore.  The stories are not paced stories like the ones at Mighty Books and audio is not attached. This makes a good step-up reading site for children who enjoy reading stories online and want to do it "on their own."

 

LITERACY GAMES

 

Building Language for Literacy is a section created by Scholastic that lets young children work on their reading skills. Pre-readers will enjoy matching items to their town locations in Nina the Naming Newt.  Leo introduces individual letters and Reggie lets children play a simple game with rhyming words.

 

The BBC section for Literacy This section has games for kids from 5-11 that help them with phonics, parts of speech, and other reading issues. The games are created in Flash, so there is smooth animation and fun interactions. The Little Animals Activity Centre has wonderful phonics-based games for kids from 4-8.  Characters, like Digby Mole, help children understand word endings, first sounds and rhyming sounds. This is a fun way for kids to get a first introduction to letters and the sounds they make.

 

Alien Scavenger Hunt from Game Goo lets children "capture" the letters that spell short words. As each word is captured, it's shown at the top of the screen in its proper place in the word. When all of the letters are caught the announcer says each letter and then the word they create. The words change each time the child plays the game. This is a fun game for early readers.

 

STORY BASED LESSONS

 

Takako's Great Adventure is a nicely written story adventure that has vocabulary quizzes and questions built into it.  The story is read out loud by a narrator and key vocabulary is highlighted with glossary links built in after listening to each of the story's episodes. The student can take quizzes or do crossword puzzles and other drills to work on their vocabulary and comprehension.  This is a good exercise for listening skills.

 

GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY, & WRITING

 

Our favorite grammar site is the Guide to Grammar and Writing.  This site is an amazing resource!  Wondering what a preposition is?  You'll find everything yove ever wanted to know about them from Professor Darling.  This English language site is one of the gems of the Internet.

 

The Grammar Handbook at the Writers' Workshop, University of Illinois is a clear and helpful guide for students, parents, and teachers.  Well-presented examples help take the mystery out of certain parts of speech in the English language.

 

If you're looking for some good vocabulary and grammar quizzes for your students or yourself, activities for ESL Students has a wonderful selection.  Our favorites are under the Flash Quizzes for English Study.  These are great quizzes for anyone interested in improving their language skills.

 

A+ Research and Writing -Step-By-Step

When it's time for a teen that you know to write a paper for school, send them to this step-by-step guide.  As they work their way through the steps, the terror of doing a major school paper should start to subside.

 

PARENTS & TEACHERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS

 

If you have a child with a learning disability, you may need to file an IEP (Individual Education Plan) with the school.  This plan allows the parent, teachers, and school to modify classroom participation to accommodate the special needs of certain children.  Many times this can be accomplished in an informal fashion with the student's teacher, but if you need it, this is a great way to make sure that your student doesn't get left behind. 

 

Your plan may include something as simple as moving an ADD student to the front of the class to limit distractions or as complicated as complete plans for a redesigned curriculum with adjusted assessment standards. The following links will take you to some very helpful information on this topic.

The IEP and Legal Issues from the University of Utah.  (This may be helpful regardless of the state in which you live.)

IEP Documentation Tools for Planning and Delivering - If you're a parent, be sure to download the Parent Pamphlet(PDF) about a third of the way down the page.

 

READING TOOLS

 

AceReader Pro is a wonderful little program that you can download to help increase your reading speed.  There are preset drill and reading comprehension tests built into the program.  Our favorite part of the program is its ability to pace you on your own files.  All you have to do is import them into the Expert Mode and set your preferences.  This program is not free, but if you're trying to increase your speed of reading this will help.

 

TypeIt4Me is a very helpful little tool for OS X.  (Sorry, it's only for Mac users.) This little program works cross platform in any of your programs that handle text, such as AppleWorks and Word.  It allows you to create shortcuts for long words or phrases that you repeat on a regular basis. Although Microsoft word allows you to program shortcuts, it can be confusing if there are words or phrases that are close. TypeIt4Me allows you to select them from a pull-down menu.

 

You may wonder why we've included this in an article on helping your kids with reading and language skills.  Although this is a wonderful shortcut for those of us who deal with long titles or scientific names, it seems like a great way to assist children that have learning disabilities such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, or mobility problems due to conditions such as cerebral palsy.  Instead of struggling with certain words, the student could insert it through this program.  TypeIt4Me is a helpful writing aid that may make it easier for certain students to communicate.

 

TypeIt4Me regularly sells for $27.00 but they only charge $14.00 for students.

 

 

 

 




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