Using Technology to Inspire Reluctant Readers
Every teacher has dealt with students who don’t like reading. These students, often called “reluctant readers”, can present a real challenge for even the most experienced teachers. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. So it goes for reluctant readers—you can’t force them to read.
You can, however, get them excited about reading. One way teachers are getting reluctant readers engaged is through technology. Technology has produced several alternatives to the traditional style of reading. By using technology, many teachers are able to get students who hate reading to do it.
E-readers motivate and assist reluctant readers
The biggest change that technology has brought to reading is the shift from print text to digital text. Many students are excited by the idea of using tablets or e-readers to read. While the mere sight of a chapter book makes certain students groan, those same students’ eyes light up when they see an electronic device. Although reading on a Kindle or Nook is almost exactly the same as reading a traditional book, the simple change in medium can make it feel more fun for students.
For students who struggle with reading due to dyslexia, e-readers can help in a major way. A new study suggests that readers with dyslexia have an easier time with e-readers. Students can also change the font size and type on an e-reader, which may make it easier to read for students with dyslexia or vision problems.
E-readers also offer a variety of helpful tools. Most e-readers allow users to click on a word and get a definition. Apps designed with students in mind often include features like read-aloud or translation to other languages. These features can make reading less intimidating for struggling readers and allow them to enjoy reading with less frustration.
Such features help teachers scaffold their instruction. While a particular text may be too difficult for some students to read on their own, teachers can push students to read using the assistive features on an e-reader. For example, a student who is an English language learner might be too advanced for some texts, but not quite ready to move on to a higher level text due to the difficult vocabulary. With translation features on most e-readers, that student could try a more advanced text, using the translator for difficult vocabulary words.
Audio books get students reading
Another option for reluctant readers is to listen instead of read. While the ultimate goal should be to get students reading on their own, audio books can be a good start. The popular app Audible offers thousands of audio books that users can listen to on their computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Teachers can encourage students to follow along with a print or digital version while listening to the audio. Listening and tracking text is a strategy teachers have been teaching for decades. With audio books, students can do it even when there’s nobody there to read to them.
Enhanced e-books for elementary students
E-books aren’t always just a digital version of the same text. Reading apps that are designed for kids, like Meegenius, are changing the way we think about e-books. These apps offer a variety of illustrated children’s books in digital format. Students can read the text themselves, or follow along with word-by-word highlighting while the app provides audio.
Some apps also offer enhanced versions of books. Illustrations can come to life on the screen, or students can play interactive games that relate to the text. These extra features can help reluctant readers get excited about books.
How do you use technology to inspire reluctant readers? What cool apps and devices can get students excited about reading?