How To Make Reading Less Boring And More Edji
Guess what? It's Friday and I have some news for you. So here it goes...
Whether you like it or not, you are tasked with teaching reading. No matter what subject you teach, your students must be able to interpret text and extract meaning from it. And while understanding the subject matter is important, being able to read to figure stuff out and learn is crucial to the future success of our kids.
Having said that, let me also mention that as a science teacher, I do not teach reading enough. First, I abandoned our chem book. Not because Matt Miller said so, but because it sucks. Second, it is hard to find more than 2 chemistry articles students might actually enjoy reading. Third, I am kind of out of my element. I mean, I've had some PD, but I would not call myself a teaching reading guru.
As I think about it, I am realizing this is precisely the reason I should do it more often. To become better, I must venture out. I must allow myself to stumble and do the scary things that help me grow as a professional. I must teach reading in chemistry. Scary...
So, I have done some article lesson plans. This is what I call doing a pre-reading activity, followed by students actively reading, followed by some sort of a discussion, culminated by an after reading assignment. I was able to find an article or two that students actually got into. Check out How To Use Learning To Stop Michael Phelps' Evil Plan for an article lesson on peeing in public pools. It's a classic and it's got science in it.
But most of the time, my students probably die a little inside or at least throw up in their mouths a bit, when asked to read a piece they just don't give 2 fecal matter units about. At those times, we all could use some help. I'm not saying you should give your students boring stuff to read. By all means, find something more lit if you can! But if the curriculum, or the common core, or whatever the thing you must follow is called where you are, forces you to do it, do it with edji.
Did he just misspell edgy? Is it some urban dictionary term I should be afraid to look up? Is he encouraging me to perform some inappropriate act?
Edji is a free web based edtech tool that combines personalized and collaborative reading with making meaning in a fun way. The creators claim that "whether you’re analyzing The Scarlet Letter, labeling the parts of a fish, or identifying important details in a story problem, Edji is the best way to engage students around an idea." So I tried it.
And, I liked it!
Edji is fun and engaging at the same time. It's like texting about what you're reading. You can either comment using 140 or fewer characters or use emojis. And let's face it. Emojis are awesome, because they allow us to express what we feel in a safe way. And then there's Heat Vision you can turn on and off. Heat vision allows teachers to decide if students see their classmates’ comments by clicking the Heat Vision glasses on the left side of the teacher screen. As more students comment on the same piece of text, highlighting will change from yellow to orange to red.
As we're currently taking about acids and bases in chemistry, I found an okay (read: blah) article titled After Decades of Acid Rain Damage, Northeastern Forests Are Finally Making a Comeback, which at least connects the chemistry to what we teachers call the real world ('cause the rest of it is fake). Here's the step by step I did, but you can follow to create your own Edji reading.
- I created a teacher account and hit the blue New Reading button on top right.
- I copy/pasted the article text and uploaded and inserted the 3 images.
- That was it. Crazy, right? Go to edji.it and type typs into the Join a Reading box to see it.
And here's the lesson plan:
- Pre-Reading: Prompt students to google Acid Rain, then pair and share what they found.
- During Reading: Highlight key words using the key emoji and highlight and make comments (notes in the margins) on important passages.
- During Reading: I plan to turn on the heat vision when everyone finishes the initial reading, which will allow students to see the most highlighted parts of the article. This helps to focus on and discuss the key points.
- After Reading: With a partner, record and tweet (use #CymDogChem) a 30 second or less video about how acid rain forms and why it harms the environment. Use chem speak!
This is what I am doing on Monday, but there's so much more you can do with Edji. You can upload images students can comment or answer questions about. You can do vocab, games, or student projects. Check out this Ways to Use Edji Slideshow for more tips and ideas.
And best of all, Edji is easy. It works on any device, which means students can use their smartphones if tablets or laptops are not available. There’s no app to download, no class rosters to upload. Just fire up Chrome or Firefox, go to edji.it, create your teacher account in seconds, and go to town.
So do it my friend. Use Edji, because it makes reading more exciting. If you're a math or science teacher, you can add more pop to those articles or word problems. If you're a reading, ELA, ELL, or another English something acronym teacher, you just got an upgrade. When you embrace the digital culture of your students, they'll respond by embracing what you have to say. Enter 21st century.
You have the power to change the world. Use it often.