Improving your students' reading skills
In this section we will reflect upon
- how to use hypertext links in a classroom;
- how to guide students to independent use of hypertext links;
- an understanding of the importance of using various reading methods to improve their students' abilities.
In theory teachers should be able to improve the reading skills of their students using ICT. As reading is an activity with a purpose, teachers should read a selection of texts to choose the most suitable ones in order to guide the reading process. In this context we will be mainly focusing on reading skills within a foreign language.
Traditionally, we learn to read a foreign language by learning its vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.
More recently the communicative approach to foreign language teaching has given teachers a different understanding of the role of reading and the types of texts that can be used in the learning process. If the aim is communicative competence, everyday materials such as newspaper articles and travel web sites become appropriate classroom materials.
Reading is an interactive process that goes on between the reader and the text, resulting in comprehension, which is much more than decoding.
Reading research shows that good readers:
- read extensively;
- integrate information in the text with existing knowledge;
- have a flexible reading style, depending on what they are reading.
Moreover, reading using a hypertext gives more autonomy to the reader in building his reading path in a more dynamic way, following associations of ideas and not going through the text only in a linear and sequential way.
Here you can find something more about an hypertext:
Teachers could show their students a hypertext suggesting some steps they should follow to approach the reading.
An example could be the following hypertext in which you will find some episodes concerning the life of a protagonist and the students can go through the stories choosing the parts they like best and build up different stories.
This is a modern day version of ‘choose your own adventure books’ that many of us may have read as children.
What Fits by Adrienne Eisen
The hypertext can be used also to face scientific topics as suggested by the COMPASS project focused on the physics concepts of work and energy:
- The first step could be skimming the text looking for keywords and graphics which help to understand what the text will be about, followed by the process of scanning each page in search for specific information.
- The students then begin to explore the interactive resources as they form responses to what they have read.
- This may take the students to various resources outside the hypertext, providing them with more information.
- The learners, then, can study what they have read and can also re-read and re-visit the resources.
- This pattern of reading a hypertext can be applied to different topics and various disciplines, and also adapted to any level and age of students.
Students could also use "Google News" application which allows them to create personalized news magazines or collections of news on various aspects like language, topics and places. It is very easy to use and it can be interesting to propose it in class. It is a very good way to share information and news. With this application students can also read newspapers in English or in other languages.
For further information on this last device and its use you can watch the following tutorial video:
Other possible devices could be “Google Reader” and “Flipboard” applications (this last one for tablets and smartphones), but also “Google Scholar” (for students’ researches or to read about subjects concerning the school world) or “Groups”, which allows students to join discussion groups or to create new ones.
Flipboard collects the content of social media and other websites and presents it in magazine format and allows users to "flip" through articles, photos searching for issues they are most interested in.
Google Scholar provides a simple way to search for specialized literature. You can find information about a wide range of disciplines and subjects in different kinds of sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts.
Finally Google Groups is a free device that supports discussion groups based on common interests. The following video will show you how to use it.
Any hypertext can also be uploaded and shared on different on line platforms, that the teachers can use to consolidate the students’ learning process in order to guide them to a sort of exchange of information.
A further way of using a hypertext is the one which enables students to build up their own learning. They can access other libraries or join teams of learners from other schools making the reading process more interesting and meaningful. Students could work collaboratively using Skype or other video conferencing devices as a team to accomplish tasks.
Being able to build up one’s own knowledge is one of the most important features of learning, and one which the use of social media is able to assist with.
Multimedia and Hypertext: The Internet and Beyond(Interactive Technologies) [Paperback] Jakob Nielsen