Over the years I have tried to engage my students in reading. As a high school learning support teacher, this has not always been easy, but I have learned what books my students will like and ways to bring them alive while we are reading them in class. For example, when we read Shane, I really concentrate on the concept of “movie in the mind” and sometimes will act out the parts of the fights and the gun battles to the class. My male students especially enjoy that and I can see their eyes light up.
Where this generally falls apart, however, is whenever there is an assignment tied to the book. I have used various strategies with varying success, such as chapter questions, character sheets, essays based on the point of view of a character, and writing a new ending to a story to name a few. For many of my students, work is a four-letter word with the goal being to do the least amount of work to earn a passing grade.
As I was contemplating ways to incorporate newer technologies into my language arts curriculum in the hopes of inspiring my students, I came across a blog post entitled, ” Projects to Engage Middle School Readers.” The projects in this blog consisted of using readily available technologies to create projects that engage and inspire students. One of my favorites was the student creation of a movie trailer based on their reading of the book using iMovie or Animoto. Other projects include making a Story Board, creating a podcast that students read in character, and creating a choose our own adventure book using the Book Creator app for IPad.
I am also thinking of ways to include blogging into this equation and plan to create a project that includes character analysis using student created blogs. The use of blogs in the classroom is new to me and I worry that my students may not be particularly engaged or enthused, but see real promise and hope that writing for an audience larger than the teacher will motivate the students to do more than the bare minimum. What are some of your favorite technologies with which to engage students in their learning?