Aug 23 2017

Videoconferencing and Social Media Boost Reading Engagement

Collaboration tools allow students to interact with their favorite authors.

Thanks to technology, reading just got a little bit more interactive. Teachers like Stacey Riedmiller, a fourth-grade English teacher from Ohio, are making use of social media to reach out to the authors of students’ favorite books, reports Education Week.

Some teachers use social networking platforms like Twitter to begin conversations with popular authors, and others make use of videoconferencing and even Google Docs to give students a better understanding of what it takes to be an author.

“It’s kind of changing the way we bring literacy to kids,” Riedmiller says in the article.

Collaboration Tools Eliminate Classroom Walls

Melissa Guerrette, a fifth-grade teacher at Oxford Elementary School in Maine, has been facilitating Skype calls between authors and her students for the past five years. She tells Education Week that her students open up more about writing and reading with the authors than they do with her. She cites the example of her students discussing the self-doubt they have about writing revisions.

Even without video, students can learn from other interactions with authors. Education Week reports on fifth-grade teacher Rayna Freedman’s experience of using Google Doc to share students’ questions with author Barbara O’Connor, which she was able to quickly answer.

These popular collaboration tools provide interactive opportunities that offer students insight into the world outside their classrooms and boost their passion for reading and writing.

“My kids don’t look at the classroom anymore as having four walls because they can now reach out to anybody,” says Freedman in the article.

Breaking down classroom walls is what Microsoft had in mind when it launched Skype in the Classroom, an online community where teachers from any discipline and grade level can reach out to experts for virtual field trips, lessons and guest speaking. Students have talked with everyone from authors to scientists located in the Arctic.

Like the teachers looking to reinforce students’ interest in reading and writing, teachers at Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas use Cisco WebEx to let students investigate future colleges and careers, as well as just explore their own interests.

“Access to video can give the students an added dimension to learning that they’ve never had before,” says Christy Ziegler, the assistant superintendent of innovation and performance at Shawnee Mission.

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