Let me just get this out of the way by saying that I was never the biggest fan of reading in high school. Obviously, I’m not alone in this thought because that’s the reason why there are sites like Cliffsnotes, SparkNotes, and Shmoop. I know that teachers are aware of these sites, and are coming up with their own ways of catching the students who try to avoid their reading assignments. However, I have found that despite a teacher’s best anti-slacking methods, if a student has good writing skills, it would usually be easy for them to complete a book report without reading the book at all. Students are able to write a report just by looking at a good summary.
Overall, I have to say that while looking at summaries and coming up with book reports did help my creative writing, I still have some trouble when I desperately needed to use a textbook in college. That’s why I want to talk about what I think is the best method to get high schoolers to read. Since I’ve started working for EdTech Software, I’ve been able to do all sorts of wonderful work with their eBook reader. I can honestly say with certainty that if my teachers used the EdTech reader in high school, then I would have definitely been a more attentive reader and I wish it was an option in college.
You are probably wondering why I think the EdTech reader is the best way to get high schoolers to read, but it all comes down to the interactive features of the reader, that will force students to open up their books. The first thing I love about the reader is that it can be used anywhere and on all devices. Almost everyone has either a smartphone, tablet, or a laptop, and the reader can be accessed on all of those devices, so there is no excuse for a student not to read their books. While I know that teachers would not want to give full access for students to use these devices in class, I feel as if the accountability aspect would ensure teachers to know that their students can always access their books.
The most important feature of the reader is the overlay features. Overlays are pieces of media that teachers can place directly inside an eBook to make reading more interactive and entertaining for their students. The overlays that teachers can add in the Edtech reader are text, images, videos, hyperlinks, quizzes, YouTube videos, comment boxes, and MP3’s. Since these overlays are the heart of the interactive features, I’ll go over each of them briefly and how important they can be in learning.
Text overlays are for adding notes for students to read in their textbooks. With all overlays, you can highlight the text that you want to place your overlay in, and with text overlays you can highlight a piece of text and add a note like, “Remember this for the test”, or “We will go over this next week so don’t read this now.” Little notes like these can be very important for students to see what is important in a book, and what they can skip. I find that in a lot of textbooks, there is a lot of unnecessary information that can often overwhelm a student. With text overlays, a teacher can add their notes wherever they see fit in the book for the benefit of the students.
Similar to text overlays, MP3 overlays can be used to add audio files inside an eBook. I could definitely see the musically talented teachers of the world having plenty of fun with it. The audio option is also great for struggling readers and ensures students know how to pronounce keywords in all subjects. In addition to text and MP3 overlays, teachers have more visual options.
Image and video overlays are for adding exactly what you think they would add. While some people might see these as being unnecessary for reading books, I think they can go a long way in breaking up some of the monotony of reading, while also adding more educational material. It can be very helpful for visual learners to see a concept that they just read shown in an image or video, rather than just reading about it. One of the most common uses of the image overlay that I’ve seen is an image of a stop sign that teachers will put for students to know that they are done reading a specific portion of the text. Video and YouTube overlays are similar since they both add videos, but what stands out about the YouTube overlay is that when teachers paste a YouTube link into the overlay, their students will only be able to see that specific video, and nothing else from YouTube, which can eliminate all of the distractions of YouTube.
Hyperlink overlays are used for linking documents and websites for students to access from their eBooks. It has become necessary for students to learn how to create and use google and word documents for the modern workplace. I think it’s nice to have them accessible with reading material. Since Google Classroom and documents are collaborative, I can picture teachers using a hyperlink overlay to have their students post their questions to a document, or to recite what they have learned. This could be an easy tool for teachers to add assignments to their students’ reading.
Comment overlays are for creating discussions for students to contribute to from inside an eBook. I have had to do a lot of discussion post assignments, in both college and high school, so this overlay is very prevalent. With this kind of overlay, teachers can assign a discussion post for reading and when their students get to the overlay in the text, the material from the textbook will be fresh in their mind. The comment overlay function contains the ability to for teachers to monitor their students’ posts.
If all of these interactive features fail to make students open up their textbooks, then using a Quiz overlay will certainly ensure that most students who care about their grade will keep them accountable for their reading. The Edtech reader’s quiz overlay function is fully equipped for most question types and records all of the student’s submissions and scores. With this feature, students at least have to find the quiz overlay and look through the book to find the right answers.
All in all, my time working with the EdTech reader has inspired my excitement for the future of technology in education. While playing with all of the overlay features, I thought about how all of the wonderful teachers that I’ve had in my school career could have used this software to enhance my learning experience. The EdTech reader encourages teachers to utilize their own creative skills to make their student’s learning experience much better. To get your school equipped with the EdTech reader, you can schedule a demo on the EdTech Software website and you will get a hands-on experience with all the overlay features. Please don’t pass on the chance to enter the digital revolution and reinvigorate the joy of reading for your students.