We’ve discovered an interesting trend at school. Although results have consistently gone up and the students are generally good at written work, they’re not as strong when it comes to reading – particularly whn required to analyse what I would consider to be fairly basic chunks of writing. I could rant about spoon-feeding, league tables, a culture that is afraid to allow students to fail and so on (and, to be honest, I have. At lenght. And frequently) but instead I’m looking at methods to improve the situation.
It’s long been a school rule that tutors get their form group to read, silently, for 15 minutes in morning registration once a week. In practice, I know that in some groups this works well, and in others it really doesn’t. My Y11 form seem particularly resistant, with even the bright and usually willing pupils complaining that they would prefer to read in their own time.
Audio Short Stories
A solution to this that is in the pipeline is to take short audiobooks (e.g. Roald Dahl’s ‘The Landlady), give the students a printed copy of the text, play the story through and set some simple multiple-choice questions as a group quiz or competition. I quite like this idea, although I can see it getting old quite quickly if over-used.
Now this is the main point of the post. Back in June I attended the Achievement Show, and saw a presentation by Rising Stars relating to the use of eBooks in school (KS2 & 3). There are a couple of ideas including reading books on mobile devices (becauase they are inherently more appealing than reading from paper supposedly, although that’s a whole issue in itself), students turning their own stories into eBooks (a fairly simple process) and potentially even using the device itself to perform some task – writing a review, annotating or highlighting parts of the story, using a built in dictionary to explain the words, all sorts of things.
I’m quite keen to have a deeper look at the practicalities and benefits of such a scheme and have put together a small mind-map outlining my thoughts.
Without wanting to repeat myself too much, I need to consider the pros and cons of various devices. I already use a smartphone for reading books, and SUMSonline are offering a good deal on refurbished Dell Axims with their maths software already onboard – but the screens are going to be quite small.
Sony eBook readers are lovely devices, but are pretty bulky, expensive and can;t do anything else (this is could be a good and a bad thing depending on your point of view).
The DS and PSP option is similar to PDAs, but with more opportunities for blurring the lines between entertainment and education (see comment in parentheses, above).
We have a class set of Asus EeePCs (7″, 4GB versions) which may be rendered obsolete in the next upgrade cycle. Again with the plethora of distractions and the bulkiness, but they are already networked and have a keyboard for performing some of the comprehension/reviewing/discussing type tasks.
So. Lots to think about.