Keeping students engaged is critical to active reading, and perhaps nothing is more effective at maintaining interest and excitement than by making multimedia resources and multiformat texts part of the learning experience.
Whether it’s newspapers, magazines, videos, blogs, podcasts, or more, different types of media can develop deep reading skills in ways that differ from, yet complement, traditional learning methods. In particular, multimedia resources can more effectively engage students in close reading, improve knowledge retention, and convey concepts in a more relevant or understandable way.
Below are five helpful tips for integrating multimedia resources and variable-format texts into your classroom. Each of these can be modified or expanded in any number of ways, so feel free to get creative!
1. Teach Digital Literacy Skills
Digital literacy skills are vital for navigating today’s online world, so make sure your younger students are learning the basics, including how to use a tablet or smartphone, how to scroll up and down a web page, and how to navigate a simple web page. For older students, you might teach more advanced skills, such as how to use hyperlinks, videos, images, interactive media, and social media share buttons to enhance their online reading experience.
2. Supplement Print Texts with Links to Online Content
If you don’t have access to digital reading devices, you can simulate the digital active reading experience by compiling a list of web-based resources that students can use to augment a printed text. These resources might include links to related web content, YouTube videos, podcasts, TEDx videos, and more.
3. Use Newspaper Articles to Develop Critical Reading Skills
When your students read the newspaper, whether online or print, it not only helps them learn what’s going on around the world, but also develops critical reading skills. Have them read one article a week and then share why they chose it with a small group or the class.
4. Boost Reading Comprehension Through Blogs
Many teachers understand that well-written blogs keep students engaged and provide excellent opportunities to strengthen reading comprehension skills and expand knowledge. Have your students choose a blog that interests them and follow it regularly. Teach them how to interact with the blog through links, comments, and social sharing. Then set up a regular time for each child to share what they’re learning with the class.
5. Use Audio Recordings to Close Reading Gaps
A great way to close reading achievement gaps or boost proficiency for English-language learners is to have students read a text as they listen to a recording of it. A great resource for free audiobooks and recordings for young readers is Lit2Go. You can also find free audio content on the web, including podcasts that feature famous actors reading literature classics, archived recordings of great speeches such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” (available on YouTube), and more.
Keep in mind that you can use multimedia and variable-format texts to reinforce concepts you are teaching in other subjects, or use them as part of your broader active reading and learning strategies. In any case, the result will be highly motivated students engaged in more meaningful and deep learning experiences.