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Revitalize Classroom Libraries for Digital Natives

By Christy Crawford on December 4, 2012
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

With a single classroom computer or iPad, you can get kids asking you again and again for more reading time. Read on for my favorite techie ways to entice the most reluctant readers to jump into literacy.






1. Make 'em creators not just consumers

Use StoryBuddy 2 to create field trip e-books!Twenty-first century students have the unprecedented chance to create texts just as professional looking as e-books from publishing houses. And with free or cheap iPad apps, you'll get a chance to inspire creativity and put photos from field trips to good use. StoryKit and Book Creator allow users of any age to easily add photos, draw, add text and audio, and share their creations. If you have older students and a budget and need a high-tech product with lots of options, check out Aerbook Maker. Also, take a peek at a tutorial for Book Creator.




2. QR code love 

Third graders shoot a book review.Let students promote their favorite books with QR-coded book trailers or reviews, and affix QR codes to corresponding books, book bins, and posters. My 3rd and 4th graders were able to write, shoot, edit, upload, and code simple book reviews in four 40-minute periods. (See below.) For detailed book review instructions, grab a readwritethink.org book review template and see my post "Ten Ways to Use QR Codes for Education." Add a video-production "studio" to your centers, partner with grade-team members willing to do the same, and you'll have lots of QR-coded reviews for libraries in two weeks.  


QR code bookmarks!Create a flurry of literacy excitement in your class with QR code bookmarks! Add your code and a thumbnail picture of each book to bookmarks printed on heavy card stock and you'll give your readers bragging rights for months. With portable QR review codes, your readers can show anyone with a mobile scanner their great work and begin substantive conversations about their book picks. (Big thanks to Poway Unified School District instructional tech guru Linda Foote for sharing her QR-coded bookmarks!) 




3. Interactive e-books

"I have the Kindle Fire and the books do nothing," said Tristan, one of my 3rd graders. These [Storia] books are crazy! You can play games. You can even see a volcano explode in the book videos at the end!"  My students now expect every nonfiction e-book to challenge them with puzzles and quizzes, or they expect to be "grossed out" with an impressive nature video. Check out the Word Bird games; your students will be hooked instantly. 

Take a quick look at the video below. At the end of each technology class, I allow pairs of students to shoot a 30-second promo for any nonfiction e-book. Pairs can easily edit, upload, and (QR) code their promo within one 20-minute recess period. Print out the coded nonfiction promo, and use an acrylic display holder to showcase the nonfiction codes in your library. 

Kids will love the chance to talk about their discoveries, and their teachers will love the renewed interest in reading and rereading nonfiction.

4. Capture attention with social media  sort of 

Download Tech Tools for Schools' Facebook template or use "Twister" account to bring new life to biographies or a character study. After reading, "reward" readers with time to create profiles, post, or tweet from the perspective of their favorite character or biography subject.


*Need more inspiration? Listen to a book talk podcast from New Zealand's Pt. England school. This school, in a low socio-economic area, gets high praise around the world for using technology to get kids excited about literacy.


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