Fact: Nearly one third of fourth- and eighth-grade students are reading at or above proficiency levels—putting the majority of students in the category of “struggling reader.”
Fact: The more students read, the better they get.
Fact: There are a variety of tools available to teachers that motivate students to read more at home, where they spend a vast majority of their time.
Whether or not your students have books, reading confidence, or parental support to encourage reading at home, you can still help them spend more time reading with these tools.
Non-fiction reading can hook struggling readers—so long as they find something they enjoy reading about. When they do find a subject they like, the format of an article makes it easier to comprehend and follow the story:
“Non-fiction text, especially, provides a number of supports for the struggling reader: headings and subheadings, graphics and illustrations, introductions, and summaries. These provide structures that help the reader access information even if the measured readability is beyond his capacity,” say Lori Rog and Paul Kropp.
The beauty of Newsela is that students can read the non-fiction articles that interest them at their own reading level. When students don’t feel intimidated by the reading, they are more likely to do it more often.
Students choose from five different levels, making it easy to assign current event reading to the entire class. Students can also take quizzes after each article and access this website on any device with an Internet connection. Check out Newsela Elementary for younger students.
The tool is free for educators and students to use, making it a no-brainer addition to your reading toolbox.
Sometimes students need a little more motivation to read at home—if they haven’t discovered the types of books they love, they’re less likely to reach for one. In this case, Whooo’s Reading can be used to motivate these students to read in order to earn Wisdom Coins.
Students earn Wisdom Coins for logging reading, answering open-ended comprehension questions, and interacting with their peers in a private, Facebook-like newsfeed. These coins can then be spent in the Owl Shop, where students “buy” virtual accessories for their Owlvatar.
While some educators are wary of the extrinsic rewards, they’ll find that these soon become intrinsic, as students begin to read more, at higher levels. A study of 2,700 students found that after just six months of using the program, struggling readers were choosing books 300L higher than when they started.
Schools can purchase this tool to be used in conjunction with other reading tools, such as Accelerated Reader, for $3-$8 per student, depending on the size of the school, or teachers can access it for $15 a month.
Students may have a hard time connecting to characters and settings they’re unfamiliar with—like those in fiction books. In this case, these apps can motivate them to read about topics they’ve likely heard of before, from outer space to ancient cultures.
The Wikipedia app puts thousands of articles at students’ fingertips whenever they want to read. It’s an especially easy way to encourage students to explore topics that are new to them.
Students can discover the world, one fascinating fact and story at a time. With built-in mini movies, changing soundscape and exciting images, they’ll be reading whenever they get a chance.
Students can access nine different Brittanica Kids volumes, each one focusing on a different topic, including Volcanoes, Rainforests and Ancient Rome. The cost for each volume ranges from $1.99 to $4.99.
It may be difficult or intimidating for students to finish an entire book. These fun websites provide readers with shorter pieces of text that will get them reading more at home, even if they aren’t finishing books.
This website is full of fun facts in a range categories, including Happiness, Sleep and Creativity. Student can choose a category and scroll for hours reading facts.
With this website, students will learn about obscure events, locations and monuments. For example, they can read a short article on the history of the Seattle Space Needle—something they’d likely never learn about in school.
This website combines images with the life stories of those photographed that, when combined, draws the reader in. The site is better suited for older students and brings the task of reading into the real world.
Encouraging students to read at home is easier when you use these tools, websites and apps. Motivate them with interesting websites, gamified platforms and leveled current event articles—you may be surprised how eager they are to read more, at home and in the classroom.