Saturday, March 3, 2012

Reading on the iPad: 6 Elements of Instruction APP'd

[See this article in visual form]

[See also Only 1 iPad in the Classroom?  All of those apps and ideas will apply to a 1:1 iPad classroom.]

The March 2012 issue of Educational Leadership (Reading: The Core Skill) contains an article that all ELA and literacy teachers must read:  "Every Child, Every Day" by Richard L. Allington and Rachael E. Gabriel.   I don't know how long and to whom the article will be available, so I will capture the key points here.  What you need to read the article for, in addition to these key points, are the concise summaries of the research and literature about effective reading instruction.  It is a mini-guide to what should be happening in schools.

What I am going to do is to apply the six elements of instruction identified by Allington and Gabriel to reading with - or on - the iPad.  Whether today's teachers have one iPad for individual instruction, a 1:1 program, or something in between, it is important for them to understand the power of using this tool to support reading in the classroom.  (It is equally powerful, perhaps even more powerful, as a tool to support reading outside of the classroom).

First and foremost, Allington and Gabriel are talking k-12 and they are talking about what Allington elsewhere calls thoughtful reading across the curriculum.  The iPad is, of course, an across the curriculum tool, but it is also a powerful thinking tool.

Second, all of what is discussed here applies to both fiction and informational text (and in many cases to visual and auditory text).  Last, it is important to keep in mind Allington's response to the question, What is Reading?  In the linked-to interview he makes the point that when one is reading, there is a response: goosebumps, giggles, sorrow, anger, wonder...   These responses = media + motion.  We are in iPad country.

To best use the iPad for reading instruction, you will want, as a teacher, to have access to at least one measure of student reading level (F&P, lexile range, grade level equivalent). It is possible to find book lists (online and in print) to match any range. Just ask your librarian or literacy specialist. If this is what you rely upon, go that route and set up your iPads accordingly.

You can, for example, make folders on the Home screen of interactive texts for different ranges, for individual students, or you can make a Home icon link (easy to do on the iPad - see the screen shot) to a website on which are listed available or suggested titles.  Using Box or DropBox (slightly more complex), you can create web-based folders of texts differentiated for specific students, reading levels, reading interests, or reading groups.  These can be accessed directly from the iPad app.  This can be done by multiple teachers, all accessing the same folder (how cool would that be!). 

And you can, of course, load onto the iPad individually purchased titles, e-Books (Overdrive Media Console has an app - if your public or school library has the e-Book service, your students can "borrow" books right from the iPad). 

The 6 Elements of Instruction applied to the iPad:

1. Every child reads something he or she chooses - not all of the time or every time, but at some time during the school day. How many texts can the iPad hold?  It's infinite, if you consider the web as a text and the possibilities of borrowed e-Books and e-Texts.  Definitely thousands.  The iPad is an e-Reader.  It is an interactive e-Reader.  It can read to you.  You can read to it.  The iPad remembers your place (a good thing if multiple students are reading different titles, which is the goal) and remembers your annotations and bookmarks.  Wondering about this approach to reading?  Read this perspective.

Here are the best apps for digital reading Choice:
  • Kindle books are one choice.  Set up an Amazon account (password protected and do not save credit card information) and register as many iPads as you want.  Download purchased books from Amazon's Accounts interface or through a desktop/laptop.  Kindle books are often less expensive than print counterparts. Free and inexpensive classic texts, and daily $.99 specials, are also available. Books obtained via Amazon appear in the Kindle app Home menu, making them easy to access. 
  • iBooks (public domain titles, including many fairy tales and illustrated classics) is another way to store and access books.  Because it reads the ePub and .pdf formats, teachers can even upload texts that they create themselves.  
  • Storia is Scholastic's venture into iPad-land.  The e-Reader will offer titles from the Scholastic catalog, about 10% of which have been "enriched" to create an interactive experience.  Purchase prices will vary (compare to Amazon). Also keep in mind that titles sold by Scholastic, especially tween and YA titles, have been screened and may have been edited.  With 5 free books per download, you might consider downloading the app individually in order to differentiate purchases.  
  • Individual interactive book apps such as The Artifacts and numerous titles for elementary students can be purchased via the iTunes store/ iPad App Store (Books and Education are key categories, or you can search). Teachers need to create the account and keep the password secret from students. If the first download onto an iPad is a free app, a credit card does not have to be attached to the account.  Create folders on the Home screen to hold books in categories that work for you: subjects, grade level, individual students (each app can go into only one folder).
  • Comics and graphic novels (Comics app) - purchase titles online at ComiXology and download them to this iPad app - best for middle and high school. Purchase requires an online account.
  • Poetry from the Poetry Foundation serves up great poetry from the archive, by random shake or spin or by loose topic organization.  Many poems have voice recordings.  Free.
  • MegaReader 2.5 indexes and downloads free texts from sources such as Gutenberg and Feedbooks.  Young Reader is for elementary and middle school readers - it comes preloaded with over 130 public domain classics so texts can be read without wifi access.  Although a main purpose of Young Reader is to increase reading speed, it is also just a simple source of good texts at a wide range of levels.  Caution: some students will be frustrated by the bizarre characters that appear due to format conversions, so check out any titles you install.
  • OverDrive Media Console will connect students having library cards to public or school libraries with a e-Book loan service.
  • Newsstand - purchase some magazine subscriptions for your students.
  • Timbuktu - an app that aggregates a different upper elementary magazine (from multiple multi-media sources) weekly.  This is a multifaceted, multimedia reading experience.
  • Zite - an app that aggregates current articles by topic - great for middle and high school students who have very specific interests.
  • The Google App contains a News application.  Combined with Readability (see below), it supports choice as well as good options. 
  • The web - you can make a Home screen link to your own pre-selected web sites (see above) or to digital, web-based texts (you can even make your own web-page full of text... )  Science, history, sports...  Students can have individualized choice links on individualized pages or can download .pdf files created by the teacher (see #2 and #3 below for readers).
  • And don't neglect content specific apps that contain reading text!  Many science and social studies/history apps contain informational text.  Placing them into Home screen folders is a good idea.
2.  Every child reads accurately.  We have to infer what reading accurately means (those of us not deeply versed in Allington), but it is clear that, where meaning is the message,  "just right" texts must be available in sufficient variety and number that choice can be right for every child in school, in every content area, during the school day.  But Allington and Gabriel note, "Sadly, struggling readers typically encounter a steady diet of too-challenging texts throughout the school day as they make their way through classes that present grade-level material hour after hour. In essence, traditional instructional practices widen the gap between readers."   Even in the best of school situations, all day is probably not possible, and, unfortunately, the tool for measuring the difficulty of an input-text selection is not available as a mobile app (it should be), so judging text appropriateness on the fly is not possible. Additionally, in subject-specific classes, teachers are probably not aware of student reading levels.  The best many teachers can do is to prepare an appropriate range of text selections and make them available in Box or DropBox for students to access.

On the other hand, there are iPad tools to help students accurately read "just wrong" text.  They also support understanding of texts that are a good fit.
  • Kindle books have an on-board dictionary - place the cursor before a word and initiate an instant "lookup."  iBooks also has a dictionary - press on a word and define is an option.  Both tools also enable web search, highlighting, annotations attached to text, searching by word (character or place names, for example), and bookmarking.  iBooks is a little friendlier for kids.
  • Readability is an app (as well as a web-based widget) that "cleans up" web text (it works best with article text - does not work with all text) so that distractions are removed. Search for articles in Readability's own browser (which makes the process much simplier) or access the tool through Safari (as is done on a non-mobile platform).  Articles can be saved for viewing offline and can be quickly shared (via email, most likely, but HS students can also instantly Tweet articles), which increases motivation to read accurately. You might want the ad-free version for a small charge.  Pressing on a word in Readability gives the reader the option to define a word (also true in the Safari browser when running the Readability bookmark widget). Text can be formatted in various ways as well.  Readability is a bit difficult to install and configure, and it requires an account, so you will want to do the setup yourself.  
  • Safari Reader will appear as a choice on a web page that is recognized as journal-type text. Clicking on it has the same effect as Readability.  This is great for newspapers, online magazines, etc.  but it does not work on blog text. 
  • GoodReader is an annotation reader for .pdf files.  Using email, Dropbox or other apps, load .pdf  files onto the student's iPad.  The ability to annotate (lines, text, colors) while reading denser text will help with accurate reading.  You can also direct reading by including focus and pre-reading questions at the top of the text, by chunking text, and adding vocabulary definitions, etc.  This is especially useful for informational text.   
  • Notability is another good .pdf reader that annotates.  It has the advantage of combining with Joliprint so that .pdf files created from Safari accessed web pages can be opened immediately on the iPad (Joliprint creates .pdf files from web pages).
  • Speak Selection in the iPad Accessibility Settings can be turned on to enable a student reader to hear a word or a text selection spoken by a machine voice (Siri - set the voice to be quite slow!).  This is a pop-up option, along with define and copy (one word - selection).  VoiceOver can also be turned on, which means that ALL text will be spoken. This is useful if you are working with a student in an iBook or a web-reading assignment, but also very frustrating.  Not really recommended.
  • i-Prompt Pro is a free app designed for presentations and speech-making. It scrolls text (pasted into the app) for oral reading, making it a terrific tool for small group, all-class, or individual fluency development, or simply for sharing a fabulous text selection.  Modeling made easy.
  • Web Reader HD ($4.99) will speak just about any text, including web pages opened in its own browser and files opened from Dropbox.  This latter can be huge for differentiated reading.
  • Speak It! - Text to Speech ($1.99) will speak text that is entered (copy-pasted any text), highlighting words as they are read. The app is used often as an assistive device, but it is also good for fluency, accuracy, and understanding of text read. Another advantage is a choice of voices.
  • Voice Memos for iPad - Since this app multi-tasks, a student can record himself/herself reading, but also record comments about reading while reading. Share via email, or simply pass the iPad around a reading group.
  • Dragon Dictation can be used for fluency improvement as well, although this is not its primary purpose. 
  • Evernote is also a simple tool for capturing oral reading.  See #50 in this slide show for How-to.  
  • Or, if you are really lucky and have the new iPad, activate the Dictation Key. Students can read and see syllables, words, and sentences recreated on the notepad.  How-to.
  • Evernote Peak is a great way to check reading accuracy. It is basically a Q & A app - ask a question and "peak" at the answer by lifting a virtual or real iPad cover.  Students can create questions in an Evernote notebook to share, teachers can do the same.  All free.  
  • Almost any text-based webpage (not site) can be saved as an ePub document and opened in Notability, iBooks, or other .epub reader by using dotEPUB, which is a widget installed as a Safari bookmark.  Follow the link to get the directions (warning - if the document you create is a selection from The Man Who Was Thursday, you have done the right thing).  As noted above, some readers will let students annotate, others will help students to decode or speak the text for them. 
3. Every child reads something he or she understands.  The point here is that what a student reads, especially during reading intervention, must be within a context that he understands - not out-of-context text - and the text must be rich enough so that there is something to understand.  One way in which the iPad can support understanding is by providing rich media support for the context of the reading. Below are just a few ways in which this can be quickly done using the multi-tasking capabilities of the iPad (double-tap on the Home button and scroll through open apps).  All of the tools above also support reading for understanding, thoughtful reading, as do the apps in #4 and #5 below.  Thus the iPad itself provides a stimulus for reading to understand.
  • Google app - use the Voice Search capability for pre-reading and during-reading engagement - look for the icon at the bottom of the launch window
  • Google Earth app - look up places, settings, etc.
  • Qwiki - multi-media, narrated videos on many topics, including some best-selling student novels
  • (see text-to-speech apps above)
  • Teachers can record their own reading of texts using any one of a wide range of tools.  Students can record their thoughts and understandings in short audio files. Here are a few very good tools:
    • AudioBoo
    • VoiceThread (central to which is a comment feature, written, oral, uploaded sound file)
    • DropVox (record directly to a DropBox folder in a designated account - from here, files can be "back-shared")
    • TinyVox - quickly record with the option to redo - uploads (and archives on iPad) to a unique URL that can be shared.  Use this to generate questions and well as understandings.  
    • Talking Tom and Ben News - For elementary students, but also higher (with clever ideas), this app speaks back what students enter, with dualing voices.  I can see lots of opportunities for digital hot seats, interviews, etc.
Book Creator
4. Every child writes about something personally meaningful.  How can a teacher quickly understand if a student is reading "right fit" text?  Ask the student what his response is, ask that it be spoken, written, drawn - and make time for reading responses to be shared. The rationale for this is in the article.  There is no substitute for an alert teacher who is an active listener and observer - but the iPad can help.
  • Just writing:  Pages is the tool of choice, even though it is not free.  Students keeping lengthy documents over the course of a year can export them as ePub files, readable in iBooks.  For that alone Pages is worth it.
  • Audio-journaling:  see the tools listed above for voice recording.
  • Drawing:  Some students will "write" best by drawing in place of - or in addition to - writing text.  This drawing is often accompanied in elementary school with a voice narration. Again, the iPad has numerous tools for this.  These tools are often called screencasting apps when used by adults.
    • ShowMe - the most basic app for drawing and adding a voice record
    • ReplayNote4Kid and ScreenChomp are a bit more complex, but easily used in elementary school
    • Educreations is a bit more complex, for middle and high school.
    • Keynote is terrific for longer responses, as to an entire novel or unit of study. 
    • BookCreator is an alternative to Pages for in-depth ePub documents or for gathering writing done over time.  With the inclusion of audio, it can be a digital portfolio of reading growth.
  • Journaling: In the old days, ELA teachers called this journaling or free-writing post-reading.  Tools for this abound on the iPad.  A few: 
    • MyMemoir - this app appears on very few lists, but I find it to be the most convenient for journaling
    • Notes - minimally featured note-taking tool is just plain easy to use
    • Noteability - for upper-middle and HS student readers, this richly featured app is wonderful
    • Noteshelf - an alternative to Noteability ($5.99) recommended for situations in which many students use the same iPad because individual note journals can easily be created (video)
    • Evernote - attached to an online account, this has a journal-type interface - audio, photos, can be tagged by author, text, etc.  
    • Dragon Dictation is a great tool for those students who can not, or will not, keyboard 
    • Or, if you are really lucky and have the new iPad, activate the Dictation Key. Students can read and see syllables, words, and sentences recreated on the notepad.  How-to
  • Brainstorming or Mind-mapping:  Sentences are important, but understanding and interest are often captured in abbreviated form as well.   
    • Mindo is my app of choice, but may overwhelm younger students
    • Popple Lite is a much simpler app that has the kid advantage of letting images be easily inserted into maps
  • Organizers can be contrived, but for many struggling thinkers they provide a concrete structure.  Tools4Students is an app for that.  It contains a fairly large selection of organizers to scaffold responses to reading.
  • Annotating:  Textual notes are essential as a during-reading response.  For print text, post-its and pencils do the trick.  The problem is that the notes get lost, are difficult to organize, and are generally difficult to use in open discussion.  The iPad makes it possible for students to easily annotate digital text in a variety of ways (depending on the tool).  A few good tools:
    • Skitch - draw, add text boxes to text images - For example, take a picture of a page of text, a document, a magazine article after reading - annotate!  Shares directly to Evernote
    • GoodReader - many tools for annotating .pdf files
    • iBook - annotate ePub texts
    • Webnotes - the perfect tool to use for recording understanding and responses while reading web text.  Does not work with Readability or Safari Reader text, however, as it uses its own browser.  Text can be copy-pasted into the side-by-side Notes pane, encouraging students to take steps toward analysis.
  • Creative "writing" - Some teachers feel that responses to reading must directly address, in writing, what has been read, kind of like CCSS thinking. I don't believe that is always the best way to respond to reading.  So I offer some other ideas:
    • Visual Poet combines text and images into visual poetry, which can be uploaded to a Tumblr (an online blogging platform that I don't really recommend for school over the others mentioned above) account or sent in an e-mail (say, to an Evernote folder).  I am certain that other interconnectivity is in the works.  There are some negative reviews of this app, but it is a herald of future uses of the iPad, so try it.
    • Camera, the built-in iPad app, is great.  Some editing can be done in Photo beginning with IOS 5, but Camera Plus contains a better set of editing tools, including the b&w effect that is great for student response shots.  Pair this with Skitch (easier - see above) or Photogene (for the serious photo-commentator) to turn pictures into messages.  
    • ComicLife  or Comics Creator makes a comic message, which is sometimes what students want to convey - use photos, saved images, or screenshots and "voice bubbles"
    • iStopMotion - use the camera, voice-over, and onboard tools to make video "stories" - has the great feature of combining with a free camera app on iPhone (or 2nd iPad) to instantly upload 2-party photos into the editing timeline.  
    • PicStitch creates photo collages with or without some message text

Blog Docs
 5. Every child talks with peers about reading and writing.  I am sure that Allington is thinking about f2f conversations, but digital conversations are now as possible, and often as frequent, as f2f. They have the advantages of being asynchronous and accessible (to the talker and the listener/commenter) 24/7.  Moreover, in using the iPad for these conversations, students are developing key 21st Century skills.
  • Voice recording
    • Voice Memos for iPad - since this app multi-tasks, a student can record himself/herself reading, but also record comments about reading while reading - share via email, or simply pass the iPad around a reading group
    • Audio Memos (paid version is more versatile) is a similar app, but it allows for stop-start recording
    • SoundCloud - record up to 120 minutes of audio (no editing) - share with a unique URL - best with 1 acct. / iPad (not great for shared iPads)
  • Blogging - Teachers should have RSS feeds to these spaces, but so should other students.  At the elementary and middle level (students below 12), teachers should create accounts and complete the iPad setup, which makes posting a snap.  Blogging can be done individually or by a group (thematic, subject, title).  Remember that the comment feature on a blog is an  essential part of the conversation.
    •  Students with existing Google accounts (often provided by the school for blogging and mail) can use the Google Blogger application to blog their thoughts. 
    • Posterous is an easy way for students to upload short posts to an existing blog - most platforms work, and many blogs can be accessed (probably too hard for elementary school) [alert: Posterous has been bought out by Twitter - this will eventual lead to change, so you might go with a different app if you are just starting]
    • Blogsy is another simplified blogging tool.  Like Posterous, pictures and videos can be added.
    • Blog Docs - A sophisticated blogging platform from Google best for adept iPad users.  It has the enormous advantage of sophisicated features, including handwriting/annotation, tables, lists, highlighting...   Best used with an existing Wordpress or Blogger account (can be a Google Blogger account).
  • Collaborative Spaces for virtual conversations
    • VoiceThread
    • DropVox - record directly into a student blog space
    • Google Docs, also accessed through the Google app, is a sharing space perfect for upper middle and high school students.  It works best if accounts are created by the school, including email, so that the full range of Google Applications can be accessed and quickly shared by all students and faculty (one contact list).
    • Use zapd to create a theme, lit circle, or subject specific, or other web site that many students can access. (This is an iPhone app that works in iPad as well.)
Open Culture
6. Every child listens to a fluent adult read aloud.  Allington prefers a f2f read-aloud, and this is often possible. On the other hand, it becomes less and less desirable both time-wise and culture-wise as students scaffold up grade-wise.  I know many teachers disagree with me, but I believe that the middle school read-aloud experience after grade 6 is overrated as an element of reading instruction (also true for HS).  The iPad can provide students with other ways to listen to fluent reading.
  • Any one of the audio recording apps above can be used by teachers to pre-record fluent readings of short or longer texts.  These can, of course, be used over and over again, and shared via web-page, blog post, DropBox or Box.
  • AudioBooks provides access to a huge library of texts that can be listened to with or without texts.
  • sells quality audio recordings that can be downloaded to a Kindle acct. or directly to the iPad as audio files.  
  • OverDrive Media Console will connect students with library cards to public or school libraries with a e-Book loan service.  This includes audio books.
  • And why just reading?  The TED talks are fluent adult voices, as are the many interviews available through Open Culture.  
  • Open Culture also links to hundreds of high quality audio books.
All-in-all, I think this is a pretty powerful argument for 1:1 iPad programs.

1 comment:

  1. Very comprehensive standards for using iPads for reading, writing, discussion Great!