We have all heard it, perhaps even echoed it ourselves, "why do I have to read this?" or better still "reading is stupid!" Why do so many students, refuse to read "required" readings in class, yet they may read 100s of pages a day in books they selected? Obviously, choice is a major factor. Allow me to choose what I want to read and I will read, force me to read a piece of text that extols the virtues of the Transcendental Number Theory, or Shakespeare's Othello, I will be bored (yes, I tried to read both, no, I did not make it to the end of either work, but I imagine both end the same- in death). So beyond choice, why will students not read the work teachers assign?
Their are countless reasons why students do not read assigned work, limited comprehension, they see no value in it, they can not read, they have learned the teacher will review it anyway, or it does not connect to lessons. Their are also many reasons why students will read, their intrinsic love of reading, genuine curiosity about the topic, fear of punitive quizzes that measure assignment completion and not comprehension, or simply because they are ugh... "obedient". Mountains of data has been produced to support, negate, and otherwise laugh at my reasons behind student reading desire, or lack of. Yet, despite all of the research, money, and time spent identifying why students will not read, there exists few quality resources for teachers to build reading platforms that are interactive, engaging, collaborative, and supportive. I think I may have stumbled on a pretty good one.
Actively Learn may be one of the best platforms for creating teacher supported reading activities I have ever seen. This free resource (limit of 3 internet articles, Google Docs, or PDFs per month for the free side, the paid side, a bit pricey, offers unlimited downloads, student grading, and many more tools) allows teachers to embed questions, notes, and media directly into an assignment. Actively Learn also integrates nicely with most Google Apps for Ed tools. Most importantly, this resource allows for differentiated reading support. I am not a paid spokesperson, nor will you get to keep the knives as my gift if you decide to return this resource, but this single tool is one of the coolest, easiest, and interactive tools I have ever used to support student reading.
For a closer look, check out the brief walk-through video.
Feel free to contact me with questions, answers, ideas, or your favorite pasta bake recipe. I have quest for years to cook the perfect pasta bake.