Part 1 of 3
At FETC 2015, Terry Dobson and Heather Baptie—founders of Links 2 Learning Online who specialize in working with students with severe learning disabilities—shared tools for bridging the gap with struggling readers.
According to Baptie, more than 40 percent of students today struggle with learning to read and those who spend time reading outside school are typically the most successful. “We have spent almost all of our teaching careers working with struggling readers,” she says. “We know that [reading outside school] is critical for reading development. Fifteen minutes of reading a day can expose a child to more than a million words a year.”
Baptie emphasized that effective school-family partnerships are key to supporting the success of struggling readers.
“One of the biggest issues of working with struggling readers is that it doesn’t matter what we are doing with them when we have them,” she says. “There’s the whole rest of their life when they’re not with us that we need to help them with too.”
The pair went on to highlight a collection of digital tools that allow teachers to differentiate and personalize learning for struggling readers and support parents in engaging these students at home.
Tools for Evaluating Media and Technology for Students
To support teachers and parents with choosing the right books, apps, games, etc., the Links 2 Learning founders suggested Common Sense.
Common Sense Media helps families make smart media choices. The organization offers the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music. The website also features Parent Concerns, a collection of features that offers age-appropriate guidelines for families and videos and articles to help with the tough conversations. In addition, the website includes a blog for parents.
Common Sense Education provides teachers and schools with free research-based classroom tools to help students harness technology for learning and life. Graphite, a free education rating system, helps educators discover, use, and share the highest quality apps, games, websites, and digital curricula. All of the products have been reviewed and rated for learning potential and include insights from other K-12 teachers on how they use these products in their classroom.
Other resources for choosing the right books:
Level It Book
Level It Book is an app that allows you to scan your book’s ISBN to view the Lexile, Guided Reading, Grade Level Equivalent, and/or DRA levels for the book.
Digital-Storytime.com was founded by Marc and Carisa Kluver, a husband and wife development team who wanted to create a site that would help other parents and educators find out more about picture book apps for iPad. Detailed ratings and information are included for every app reviewed. In addition to this site, they have developed several apps, including Dash & Ditto’s Playground.