Learning from online text
Routine reading of subject specific text is always an important part of content delivery. Online reading, however, has its challenges. Luckily, there are plenty of supports you can provide students to ensure they engage deeply with the text.
Reading in Google Docs
If you’ve assigned a Google Docs reading, ask the students to engage with the text by using the highlighter tool to identify important information (you may scaffold it further by telling them to look for topic sentences, evidence, details). Then, students can share texts with one another and review each other’s highlights. Students can add comments to analyze why their peer highlighted a certain portion of text or compare a peer’s highlights to their own to determine if the correct information was selected.
If students highlight in black, you can create a “reverse highlight” effect. Tell students to black out extra, irrelevant information to create a document that only shows the essentials. Check out Eric Curts’ blog post on this text reduction strategy.
Photo credit: Eric Curts, Control-Alt-Achieve: https://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/11/docs-blackout.html
Reading content on websites
Teachers can choose articles on websites and use a Chrome add-on called Insert Learning to prompt students’ thinking while they read the texts. Students will experience the content in the website format but at various teacher-selected points in the text, a reflective question can be inserted. This way students can force summarization and reflection opportunities and check students’ learning after the assignment is complete.
Create collaborative reading experiences
Reading documents can often be an individual learning experience but it doesn’t have to be! Adding a collaborative element to a text can engage students and provide kids with different perspectives on the text. Using a tool like Edji.it, teachers can upload a text that the entire class can interact with. Teachers can allow students to see one another’s comments or emoji reactions to portions of the text and view a visual heatmap of student engagement with the text. Teachers are also provided with a reading report to see the extent to which individual students engaged with the article. Read more about Edji.it via this blog post from a few months ago here at Beyond Integration.
Reading texts online may be an assignment that students groan about but strategically using some of the above strategies (or many others!) can allow for more interactive reading that engages students. And higher engagement has the potential to lead to deeper learning.