Edutech for Teachers

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Classroom

Spotlight on Strategies: Reading Between the Lines


spotlight on strategiesAnother year… Another opportunity to spend the day with the super cool Discovery Education Network (DEN) team at the 10th annual PETE&C Pre-conference Extravaganza: A Spotlight on Strategies (S.O.S).

Even though there is always a mind-boggling amount of invaluable info shared at each session, my best OMG take-away this time around was the S.O.S series, a must-see DEN favorite designed to provide teachers with simple yet effective instructional practices for using digital content to support student learning.

To date, there are 70+ teacher tried and tested strategies featured on the DEN blog and now thanks to Lance Rougeux, Vice President of Learning Communities and Educational Consultants at Discovery Education and all-around DEN tech guru, I will now be featuring these techniques on my space. Two thumbs up to this guy!

So, let’s get to the good stuff with some tips about how to get that visual literacy thing going on…

First up: Reading Between the Lines, a digital media strategy that focuses on main idea and summarization skills though the use of a very cool web tool known as Wordle. Check out the details below.

Words are a powerful force, but yet often we do all the talking. Sometimes what is best is to allow the words to reveal their own hidden message.  Wordle is often considered a “fun” tool, but not an instructional instrument. Through a simple cut and paste we can reveal what’s most important in a text and use that as an opportunity to build background knowledge for solid understanding of content.

The image below is a snapshot of a Wordle created from the reading passage Getting to Know Energy in Ecosystems (found on the Discovery Education web site). Depending on a student’s history, passages like these can sometimes be challenging.  By creating the Wordle and sharing before students read, we can review the most important concepts and ensure that the class has foundational knowledge and address any misconceptions.

reading between the lines wordle

Select a reading passage that would interest your students from Discovery Education.  Cut and paste the text into Wordle.  The larger a word looks in the Wordle, the more times it appeared in the passage.  Have students discuss what words are most important to know before reading the passage and review the definitions.  Before students read the passage, have them go through the document and highlight the reviewed vocabulary words.

Have students summarize a reading passage.  Take a group of their summaries and cut and paste into Wordle.  Discuss which words were most common.  Have students re-write their summary to reflect the most important concepts.

Click here to snag a PDF version of this strategy and/or to view other strategies in this series click here.

Um, time out… My school doesn’t have a Discovery Education subscription, so now what? Aww, man. Now that’s a major bummer! But here’s a suggestion: Open some conversation with the powers that be to find the funding necessary to purchase these resources for you and your colleagues. It will seriously be one of the best investments your district or school entity will ever make! If the persuading, kicking, yelling and screaming your full head off antics don’t do the trick, then there’s always the Powerball option.

OK, seriously— even though the best way to roll out theses strategies is through the use of DE media, they can be utilized with any type of text, images, video and audio clips.

So, there you have it—an original S.O.S. trick to add to your edtech toolbox. Stay tuned for additional ways to activate learning in your classroom…

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Hey, edu-tech gurus!

Looking for some technology integration ideas to enhance your classroom lessons? Then be sure to check out my "Tech Tips" for the latest and greatest Web 2.0 tools, applications and web sites that can be incorporated into activities and/or projects. Although some posts may not be applicable to your content area or grade level, be sure to check back often as I will be varying ideas in order to provide resources across the K-12 curriculum.

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