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Assistive Tech as a Study Aid

How are students using technology to help them study?

There are a lot of great study tools available now. One example is the virtual highlighter, so if I’m on a web page, I can highlight a piece of text, or if I’m reading a pdf, I can highlight a piece of text. The software can gather those highlights, and create kind of note for the student. It’s like starting with the tools that we use for reading comprehension, such as using a highlighter to mark the main ideas, or a post-it note to write our questions down and then stick the note on a piece of paper. We’ve taken those basic tools and made them digital.

Books on Overcoming Adversity

I am looking for novels for a lit circle in a 6th grade class that follow the theme of overcoming adversity.

Waiting for Normal comes immediately to mind. This story of 12-year old Addie, who has to overcome an inattentive (to put it kindly) Mom, and her own dyslexia is one of my favorite books of the past year. The book also recently won the Schneider Family book award, for the book that best conveys the disability experience.

How Do You Get a 12-Year-Old Boy to Read?

I have a 12-year-old son who hates to read much himself, but loves to be read to. He will read comics on his own, but that’s about all. What do you suggest to get him to read more?

It can be tough to get a 12-year-old boy to pick up a book beyond school. I know from both personal and professional experience! My son liked (and still likes) stories, but there was a time when he acted like books were strange and hateful objects. So, when he was not picking up books to read with his eyes, I started slipping audiobooks in during any car trip.

Motivating Pre-Teen Girls to Read

Can you suggest some books for a pre-teen girl who hates to read? She doesn’t read as fast as her classmates, so she prefers not to read at all.

One of the best things to do is to find out her interests and then find as many books as you can about those interests. Whether it be vampires, poetry, craft books, anything that is interesting.

Sustained Silent Reading

Could you send me some current research which indicates that a sustained reading program benefits adolescent readers? We are having trouble in our high school with staff who do not feel that there are any benefits to the 20 minutes of sustained reading we do weekly with our students.

Sustained silent reading (SSR) time is beneficial for most adolescent readers, but we must be careful to not consider it a solution or intervention for struggling readers. First, let me address SSR as beneficial for most students. The more students (of all ages) read, the more their reading skills improve and their vocabulary grows. We also know that motivation and self-directed learning is critical to promote more reading by teenagers.

Ways to Encourage ELL Students to Read

I am curious if you have any suggestions for helping low SES and ESoL students to read when they have no books at home, and their parents don’t have time or don’t value the importance of practicing reading?

First, you should introduce your students to the school library. I suggest that you arrange a time with the librarian when you can bring your entire class to tour the library. The librarian can show them the resources that are available to ALL the students and you can give them time to find their first book to borrow. What is especially useful is to work with the librarian to select books that are appropriate for students’ reading levels and on topics of high interest.