When I started teaching school the internet was not a thing and the phone was on a cord with a rotary dial. I never stop being amazed at how quickly technology has developed over the last few decades. I am always learning new ways to use technology, but nothing matches what I have learned in 2020. Like so many of you I was suddenly trying to figure out how to most effectively teach virtually. At first, I was sure that reading could just not be taught online. How was I going to assess, group, coach and engage students in reading without seeing them in person? As I have been studying, experimenting and learning about new digital tools and resources I have realized that distance learning reading instruction can be engaging, effective and exciting. Luckily, there are so many amazing tools and resources that will motivate our students to love reading, whether that be virtually at home, or together at school.
Here are some tips for a successful distance learning reading classroom:
- Schedule: Set a daily schedule and routines for students, and make
sure they know how to access all materials.
- Build Relationships: Get to know our students by occasionally meeting
with them one-on-one. You could schedule a day for individual meetings
or meet individually with a few students each day.
- Small Groups: Do most of your reading lessons in small groups. It’s much easier to personalize instruction and keep lessons interactive and engaging in small groups.
- Independent Activities: Cut down on busy work and give students more choice.
Encourage wide reading and give meaningful independent activities
based on what individual students need to practice.
- Free Resources: The vast amount of resources available can get extremely overwhelming. It’s a good idea to start with a few tools and learn to use them really well before you add others. There are three free resources I use most of the time.
1. Epic: A wealth of engaging books and videos for lessons an independent reading.
2. Wakelet: Students can access a digital collection of videos, websites, assignments and reading materials compiled just for them.
3. Google Slides: Teachers can create some fun interactive activities for lessons and games. You may copy and download some sight word board games I created in Google Slides. Click on the image.
Good luck with your distance learning reading classroom. You got this!