Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Using Technology to Differentiate Reading Instruction

This week I have given a lot of thought about the different mindtools we have explored in class. I still found myself wanting more information about tools that can be used for reading instruction and differentiating in the classroom. I decided to do a web search and see what tools I could find on my own that might be useful to share with my co-workers. At the beginning of my search, I came across a website that allows users to upload slide presentations. The slide show that I explored is titled "Addressing Reading Deficits with Technology." It's purpose is geared towards using technology for special education students, but I feel that the information is also useful for teachers looking for tools to differentiate instruction based on all student needs. The most valuable piece of this slide show was the list of online resources available to educators.

Some of the online resources were meant for reading text to students. Some of these were:


This website provided free online versions of the words, but did not read it to the students. I found that this site worked well in conjunction with another free tool, http://readthewords.com. In this manner I was able to take the story, Cinderella, and turn it into an audio story. Combining it with a simple word document allows teachers to combine print stories with read aloud enhancements.

The negative side of this link is that there are no pictures for younger readers. However, a great center activity would be to have the students listen to/read part of the story and then stop and add their own illustrations to the word document.


This website is not free, however, it does provide a comprehensive way of purchasing children's audio-books for students and families. I always encourage parents to also purchase the book and have students read along with audio books.


This site has a large compilation of children's books, complete with words and full color illustrations. It is free and books an be saved into the users bookshelf for easy access. This site does not read the stories to the children, however, could be very helpful for earlier grades when using pictures as a primary prediction tool. Also, I felt that this could be a nice visual for read-sloud stories. I noted that the library includes many of the math related pciture books that I read in my classroom. This site also links to amazon and barnes and nobles for anyone who wishes to purchase a hard copy of the book.

The last site I found is published through wiki. Wiki Junior allows students to add and edit books online. I thought that this was an interesting way of teaching students writing skills, research skills, and editing skills. It could also be used a tool to teach kids how to use the internet appropriately, and how to determine if information found is accurate.

This was an interesting quest for me. I found many tools that I can use in my own classroom and many more that I can recommend to co-workers.


Megan Fritz said...
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Megan Fritz said...

I attended a few sessions on DI at NECC 2008 this year. I'll provide one of the links below. Each session was great...I hope you'll find this resource helpful.

Bill Dolton LMSD (scroll to the top of the page!)

Carrie Mitton said...

Netrekker also has a read aloud feature, and I think all Chester County public schools have access.

Also, readwritethink.org has lots of great reading lessons. Many of these include some type of interactive tool for the students that can help with differentiation. It doesn't read aloud, but the activities can help scaffold student comprehension, evaluation, and interaction with text.

Carrie Mitton said...

Here's another blog post about reading literacy resources: http://ilearntechnology.com/?p=583.

Emily S. said...

I love lookybook.com!! Thanks for the tip. I also like to use Time for Kids (http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/) to help with differentiating instruction during Reader's Workshop. This site allows the students to read non-fiction articles, but also is really easy to choose one topic, on three different reading levels! My students don't know that they are reading different leveled articles, because they are all reading about the same topic!

Mark Murray said...

Utilizing WikiJunior is a great way to have students to contribute to a larger community with group or individual projects while obtaining information and understanding from online resources. Online resources can be utilized in the classroom and at home as enrichment or extension activities. I've worked with some teachers that believe using wikis are not sound educational practice. This is usually because they are uninformed about wikis and often associate all wikis with the popular and often criticized Wikipedia. A feel proper classroom use of a quality resource like WikiJunior can help counter these beliefs surrounding wikis.
I wish you success with WikiJunior.