Teaching in a pandemic presented teachers with a whole new batch of problems to solve, whether through distance, hybrid or in-person learning models. Putting all technicalities and connectivity issues aside, teachers wanted to maximize engagement and student learning all the more.
As a second-grade teacher, I can assure you that teachers — and school districts — are constantly searching for ways to maintain engagement to maximize student learning. Without engagement, student progress is minimal to none. Researcher Chloe D’Angelo has found that technology can engage like no other method due to its demand for higher processing skills, elaboration on knowledge and student-centered outcomes.
How tech aids reading fluency
Some of the best tech tools make a positive impact on a student’s reading fluency skill set, whether they are in the classroom or not. (That’s the beauty of technology tools, right?)
Reading fluency encompasses more than just being able to read words on paper. It includes being able to read with expression and understanding as well. Research shows that students build reading fluency most efficiently when they do more than just silent reading. This could be repeated reading, modeling fluent reading and asking questions, or listening to fluent readers.
A virtual library tool
One technology tool to enhance reading fluency is Epic Online. This is a virtual library with more books than any in-person library could have. Students can search by keywords, authors or titles. They can read books on their own, or have them read out loud to them. Watching, or listening, to fluent readers model how important their own oral reading is to becoming a fluent reader.
The program allows teachers and parents to track student activity on Epic to encourage time spent reading/listening to stories. Add-on features include the ability for teachers to assign books (great for at-home, extended practice) and for students to extend their comprehension and complete a research project on a book they read.
A way students can record their reading
FlipGrid is an online recording tool that allows students to record themselves for up to 20 minutes. This is a great way for students to identify their speed, pronunciation, tonation and more. Videos can be published, letting students listen to each other read.
Teachers can give students a passage to read and ask them to time themselves — then try again to beat the time. The students increase reading fluency and stamina while having fun doing it.
A chance to hear celebrity readers
Another tool that strengthens reading fluency is Storyline Online. Students can listen to celebrities reading some of their favorite picture books, letting them hear a fluent reader modeling oral reading. Because the person they’re watching is a celebrity, it heightens engagement that much more.
Storyline updates its stories consistently and organizes books by themes and keywords so students can stay up-to-date on their favorite stories.
A way to manage reading assignments
SeeSaw is a widely used assignment manager tool that became even more popular during distance learning. It can be used in a wide range of ways. Read-alouds can be assigned to students to listen to through SeeSaw, or a passage can be assigned for students to record themselves reading. This way they can listen to their own reading, and the teacher can listen for ways to improve as well.
It is user-friendly even for younger grades, so it’s accessible inside and outside the classroom.
A platform that adds in poems and music
StoryNory also grows reading fluency skills in a sort of mash-up of Epic and Storyline. It offers hundreds of audiobooks in a huge variety of genres that students can listen to and follow along with. They are listening to a fluent reader with expression and tone but can also practice tracking and following themselves.
This website also offers poems and music as well.
As students practice with different technology tools, they will maximize their skills and set themselves up for a smooth-sailing reading fluency career.
Madison Stokes is a second-grade teacher.
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