Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 Resources for Teaching Reading/Literature with Technology

The growth of the Internet has provided more and more people the ability to read books that normally they would not have access too and has provided valuable tools to assist in learning to read as well.  There are several Text-to-Audio websites that make hearing typed text easier as well as website to make annotating text easier as well.  Hopefully you will find a resource in this list that helps your students read, provides an extension on what you read, or provides ideas to teach reading to your students.

1.) 60 Second Recap is a GREAT resource for Literature classrooms.  The idea behind 60 Second Recap is it provides videos to explain important aspects of the books.  I highly recommend checking out their library to see some of the videos and the books that they offer (Hamlet, Of Mice and Men, Beowulf, Animal Farm, Farenheit 451, etc).  Each 60 second video clip provides some or all of the following: overview, context, plot, characters, theme, motif, symbolism, and conclusion. 

2.) Lit 2 Go is a free collection of MP3 audio books for 1000's of books, stories, and poems.  It might be worth examining to see what they offer in relation to the books that students are reading in your class.  I did see Hamlet.  You can print out the stories or read them online, and while doing so, listen to the text as well.  You can search the database by author, title, reading level, and subject matter.  Another option is Repeat After Us, which was created by a high school student.

3.) ZAP Reader and Spreeder are web based software that allow students to copy and paste material from the Internet and then apply settings to improve their words per minute reading ability.  For students who complain of being slow readers, this software could improve their reading speed. 

4.) Book Lamp is a website that provides readers the opportunity to find books that match their interest and styles.  Think of it is a Pandora for books.  Often times, students say that they can't find a book that interest them, well Book Lamp is an option to help students find books based on other text that they have read that they like. 

5.) I know that in high school we focus more on classical texts then we do on current texts.  If by chance you have a class that is reading more current books, there are several resources of interest.  First is the Skype an Author Network which provides ways to contact authors of books through Skype and then have them "visit" your classroom and discuss the book with them.  There is also the Author Website Listing which provides links to the websites for various authors, thus providing another way to get in contact with them and discuss the book. 

6.) Often times when students are reading a book the come across vocabulary that can be difficult for them to understand or even know the meaning of the word.  Luckily there are several options for learning vocabulary.  Lexipedia provides meanings and synonyms to various words in an web type graphic.  Wordnet provides a dictionary and thesaurus in one. 

7.)  Poetry can often be a troublesome subject not just to know how to write, but also to know how to read.  Poetry 180 provides a poem for each of the 180 days that students are in school.  It provides the poem as well as information about the author and copyright permission.  A great way to study poetry. 

8.) If you have never visited or used the site Shmoop, I highly recommend it.  Shoomp has a Literature section that provides learning guides and teacher resources for 100's of books that students read.  Each book they provide an intro, summary, quotes, themes, characters, analysis, questions, photos, and even assist with writing an essay about the book.  Each book also has a "best of the web" section that provides links to other resources about each book. 

9.) What Should I Read Next provides users the ability to type in a book that they have read and it will then suggest other books based upon the author and the book that the user might be interested in.  You could easily use this in class to discover other books based on what you are reading. 

Saving what I consider to be the best for last....
10.) Google Lit Trips is a site dedicated to the use of Google Earth to "travel" the destinations that are often mentioned or used in books and novels.  Lit Trips are available for K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and Higher Education.  High school level include: The Grapes of Wrath, Night, Macbeth, and The Odyssey to name a few.  You will need to install Google Earth so that when you download the Lit Trips files you have access to what they have to offer.  A different and valuable way to teach literature.  Also provide an idea for ways you might teach a literature lesson.  For more information check out the Getting Started page.
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