Gaggle Speaks Blog

5 Ways to Teach Reading in a Tech-Obsessed World


students reading with technology

Posted on May 11, 2015by Jessica Sanders

While we live in a world where most everyone is obsessed with technology, your students still want to read. In fact, most kids still prefer to read in print form, according to the latest Scholastic Kids and Reading Report.

These same students want to use technology to practice their story writing or dive deeper into a book they love. Luckily, you don’t need access to a large or expensive library of tools to allow them to do this. With a few simple websites and apps, your students can get their technology fix, and become amazing readers at the same time. Here’s how you can modify your reading instruction for your tech-obsessed students.

blue one smallFind a Comprehension-Testing Tool
Whether your students are reading online or in print, comprehension testing is non-negotiable. Luckily, technology makes it easier than ever to test, score and track your students’ reading, while motivating them to read more.

One valuable comprehension-testing tool is Whooo’s Reading, a free, online tool where students log their reading. After recording their minutes, they’re automatically prompted to answer an open-ended, Common Core-aligned question that tests their knowledge of the text. Their answers go into a queue where you can score them.

The best part of this tool is that it’s integrated with Lexile scores, making it even easier to track student progress.

A few other tools to check out include:

green 2 smallAssign “Blog Stories”
Teachers will agree: Reading instruction relies on writing as well. “The more children interact with spoken and written language, the better readers they become,” according to On Reading, Learning to Read, and Effective Reading Instruction.

However, writing in a traditional format, with pen and paper—even in a text program like Microsoft Word—is not appealing to your tech-obsessed students. Most students these days would prefer to blog.

Use a platform like Gaggle to create a classroom blog, or one for each student, and use as a tool for writing stories. Encourage students to learn other skills by embedding YouTube videos, adding images and using custom formatting.

orange 3 smallUse Google Maps to Explore the Text
Book worms have a thirst for reading, especially when they’re deep in a book that they love. “Avid readers exhibit a hunger for learning more, anything to keep the story alive until they’ve closed the last page,” said Heather Belbin, a teaching and learning innovator at Learning Bird.

However, not every student experiences this drive to explore the books their reading—technology helps you encourage students to do just that. Google Maps, for example, is a great tool for text exploration. Here’s how you can use Google Maps in your reading instruction:

  • Were characters in the book living in a real location? If so, have students find that place on Google Maps. Look at Earth View to understand the geography and then switch to Street View, so students can walk around the city or town and experience it for themselves.
  • Was the book set in a fictional place? Challenge students to find a location on Google Maps that they believe is what the book setting looks like. What are the similarities? Where would the characters be living?

yellow 4 smallBring in Guest Authors with Skype or Google Hangouts
Published authors inspire the avid readers in your class and may help your non-book lovers come around to reading. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get authors in the classroom if they don’t live locally.

Use Skype or Google Hangouts to bring your students’ favorite authors “into the classroom.” Poll students about who they want to talk to, narrow it down to a list of three, and then see who has time to hop on video for read-aloud session and Q&A.

pink 5 smallBring Digital Storytelling into Your Classroom
Reading out loud is another crucial component to reading instruction. However, sitting in a circle, flipping through the pages of a book, just doesn’t engage students.  Digital storytelling tools, such as Book Creator, get students excited about storytelling.

Create a digital storytelling station during free time—students who create a story during this time have to read it out loud to their peers.

Teaching reading in a tech-obsessed world doesn’t create as many barriers as it does opportunities. Use the tools at your disposal to get excited about reading, writing and storytelling and make the most of your reading instruction.

Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn, an online fundraising platform that allows students raise money by reading books. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to

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