Join Kevin Kelly for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting students to do the reading, part of Teaching with Technology.
- As we talk about content for our classes, we need to discuss reading assignments. I know this is a recorded movie, but I could swear I just heard a groan. Trust me, I know. In addition to teaching hundreds of undergraduate students every year, I've talked to teachers and counselors from the high school, community college, and university levels. If there's one thing I've heard, it's that students don't read. In some cases I've heard phrases like, "They don't know how to read," or "They just click the blue links "and expect to get the information they need." Let's see what we can do about that.
In an article for Inside Higher Ed, alarmingly titled, "They Don't Read!", Rob Weir concluded that we should stop moaning about what students don't know, and teach them where they are. In her own article for the National Education Association, more positively titled, "Getting Students to Do the Readings," Linda Nilson from Clemson said, "Teachers should sell students on the readings, "teach reading strategies, and hold students accountable." It's on these three recommendations that we'll focus.
First, it's time to earn your badge for marketing skills. Do your students know how each reading relates to the rest of the class? Why you selected it or why they're reading it? In a paper for IDEA Education, Eric Hobson from Southern Georgia University gave fourteen tips related to getting students to read. One of those tips echoed Nilson's call, "explain reading assignment's relevance," by drawing explicit connections between the readings and the learning outcomes. You can use a screencast or concept map to show these connections, in addition to stating them in class.
Next, it's important to share strategies. Perhaps you can help students perform a self-check and make them aware of reading strategies at the same time. One tool that does both is the MARSI, or Metacognitive Awareness of Reading Strategies Inventory, by Mokhtari and Reichard. It measures students' use, or knowledge of, reading strategies in three categories. Global Reading Strategies, Problem-Solving Strategies, and Support Reading Strategies. Once you've made students aware of the different reading strategies that exist, model those strategies in class or through screencasts.
Actively ask yourself MARSI questions as you go through a section of assigned text. Describe out loud why you mark, highlight, or underline specific text. You can also use technology tools to encourage collaborative reading. For example, Subtext is a free iPad app that allows students to read collaboratively with their classmates. You can embed questions and prompts for your students right in the text, while the students themselves can leave comments or questions. Online tools like View and BookShout do the same thing.
There's another movie in this course that provides more details about using collaborative tools to review content together. Check it out. Holding students accountable for the readings is the last recommendation we'll visit in this movie. Derek Bruff from Vanderbilt suggests assigning pre-class assignments and quizzes that are due a few hours before class. Bruff described doing this using a quiz tool from a learning management system, or a Wordpress plugin called "Semi-Private Comments." In class, you can use classroom assessment techniques or writing-to-learn exercises to ask students to show they did the reading.
For example, use clickers to have students answer questions about the readings. You can make this more collaborative by using clickers or clicker apps for a think-pair-share activity. We'll call it, "Think-Pair-Click." Similarly, in small groups, students can contribute their own questions in response to your prompts. On Twitter, as a writing-to-learn exercise. Before reviewing the next movie, take a minute to answer the following questions for yourself. How will you "sell" assigned readings to your students? How will you teach reading strategies, or at least provide reading-strategy supports for students who need them? And, how will you hold students accountable for the readings you assigned?
Author Kevin Kelly explains how learning outcomes can be adapted to support technology in the classroom, and guides educators through selecting the appropriate technology for their activity, module, or class. Then he shows how to apply technology in three key areas: finding, creating, and sharing content with students; facilitating classroom activities; and assessing learning inside the classroom or online.
- Including technology in your learning outcomes
- Applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles
- Finding and creating content and instructional materials
- Enhancing lectures and presentations with technology
- Getting students involved
- Facilitating in-class activities
- Assessing learning
- Teaching effectively online