Teaching your students to read English can be a challenge, no matter what grade level you are working with. Luckily for us, there are more online literacy programs than ever before that are tailored to all levels, encouraging differentiated learning, as well as technology integration in the classroom, while raising students’ literacy quotients. Beginning readers can benefit from Starfall to learn basic phonics and putting words together, more advanced readers can use the various tools that Reading A-Z has to offer, and readers of all ages will love reading along with famous faces at Storyline Online. Reading Eggs keeps students engaged while they are learning to read.
Learning English Phonics and word families is one of the more challenging aspects for younger students, as well as those older students who may have just come into our educational system from elsewhere. Starfall.com is a user- friendly and extremely interactive site where students can read, write, learn the English alphabet and sounds, and hear stories read to them while looking at the words and pictures. Most of the content on the site is free to use; however, some of the games are only offered with a premium membership, which is available through the website from the $35 USD level to a school membership for $270 USD. Highly recommended for beginning readers.
Makes learning to read interesting and engaging for kids, with great online reading games and activities. Children love the games, songs, golden eggs and other rewards, which, along with feeling proud of their reading, really motivate children to keep exploring and learning. Visit http://readingeggs.co.uk/ to learn more.
An exciting program that has been introduced to many ADEC teachers this year is Reading A-Z. This site offers levelled stories and associated activities for readers from level AA basic sight words to Z2 approximately grade 5 and up. This program has a few benefits for teachers such as lesson planning aid, differentiation tool, and easy to use fluency and comprehension checker. The levels are correlated with other reading gauges such as DRA and Lexile levels, making it easy to integrate into an already existing classroom library. Assessing students at the beginning of each term and assigning levels encourages peer engagement and allows the teacher to monitor progress individually. Some of the activities available for all books include literacy circle activities, reader’s theatre scripts, and comprehension worksheets. There is a free 14-day trial, after which the fee to join is $109.95 USD. Well worth the money for the amount of resources!
Finally, building fluency and comprehension can be quite difficult to do. Storyline Online is a website with real star power in those fields. Celebrity readers share their favourite stories with listeners, as they electronically turn the pages of classic books such as Harry the Dirty Dog (read by Betty White) and A Bad Case of Stripes (read by Sean Astin). This gives students the opportunity to hear stories read by the experts and gives practice in listening for details, as well as repeating sentences to build fluency skills. The website is free.
Hopefully these websites will inspire you to bring the wonder of words into your classroom. A cautionary disclaimer: please be sure to screen all reading material to ensure that it adheres to the cultural and religious norms of the UAE. Happy reading!
By Betina Fuentes
Betina is a Cycle 2 teacher at a girls’ school in Al Ain. She enjoys travelling, meeting new teachers, and helping her students learn as much as they can.