Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A New Tool for Reaching Reluctant Readers

If you are a librarian and this picture doesn't make you smile then you are in the wrong profession. This is a group of 6th grade boys reading the first of the 3:15 short stories by Patrick Carman. I loaded the app on our iPods and told all of the English teachers about it. I also plan to advertise the app in my "App of the Week" series in our weekly newsletter.
Check out the app here.
Many of my students tell me that they do not like to read and I usually respond that they haven't found the right book yet. I ask them questions about their favorite books (if they have any), favorite movies, and hobbies to try to recommend a good book. I know that if I strike out right away it is difficult to gain their trust again. This is why I was pretty excited about the 3:15 stories. I knew it would appeal to some of those reluctant readers. After I let the teachers know about the app one of the teachers approached me about using it as part of a lesson. I wasn't able to visit her classroom during the lesson so I hope I am explaining it correctly, but this is how she used it. The teacher preselected pairs (weak/strong reader) and each pair was given an iPod with the app loaded. They watched the teaser trailer together to start the lesson. The stronger reader (without student knowledge) was chosen to read the story aloud first. A passage at a time the stronger reader would read aloud and then the struggling reader would repeat. When the story was complete they watched the video ending together. She said student response was excellent and she observed the struggling readers correcting themselves as they read because they listened to the story aloud first.
Patrick Carman also has two series of books that use a journal style of writing coupled with video journal clips online with clues thrown in. One of the books from the Skeleton Creek series is on our state junior book award nominee list for next year and we have chosen it for the book clubs at all three middle schools in the district.
For an explanation of the Skeleton Creek series read this post. The second series that uses a similar format is the Trackers series.
I really enjoy the combination of print and video media and so do my students.
Has anyone else used the 3:15 app? Or introduced the Skeleton Creek or Trackers series to your students?

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