Literature Ladders

Step 5: Develop Meaningful Activities & Learning Experiences

How can I get young people actively involved in learning?
How can technology bring reading alive?
How can I connect young people with other readers?

From discussion groups to quizzes, there are many ways to integrate Internet resources into literature-rich learning environments.
 
Once you've read the book and identified resources, you're ready to design meaningful activities. Start with specific outcomes related to your curriculum. Explore the tools you have available in your school or library. Then, look for instructional strategies that will help you reach those outcomes.

Use the following resources on this page to learn more about developing meaningful learning experiences: Explore Hardware and Software Tools, Apply Approaches to Technology Right Learning, and Develop Cool Connections.

Explore Hardware and Software Tools

There are many technology tools available for student, teachers, and librarians. Explore all the possibilities. It's easy to get into a rut using the same tools all the time. Variety is the spice of life! If your students usually create Word documents, turn them into web pages and share them on the Internet. If you've always used email for communication, try setting up a threaded discussion.

Use a variety of hardware. In addition to computers, consider using hand-held devices, digital audio recorders. digital cameras, scanners, and DVDs.

Use software tools such as KidPix, Kidspiration, Word, and PowerPoint to facilitate student communication. Think of a variety of ways for students to share their understandings.

go to teacher tapExplore ways that technology tools can be integrated into activities. Use the followingTen Technology Tools from Teacher Tap for ideas.

    1. Data/Calculation Tools & Technology
    2. Design Tools & Technology
    3. Discussion Tools & Technology
    4. Email Tools & Technology
    5. Handheld Devices in the Classroom
    6. Instructional Tools & Technology-Rich Learning
    7. Interactive Tools & Technology-Rich Learning - Websites, Games, and Activities
    8. Publishing/Visual Tools & Technology
    9. Multimedia Tools & Technology
    10. Writing Tools & Technology

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Apply Approaches to TRL

There are many approaches to Technology-Rich Learning. The key is building quality technology-rich experiences.

go to teacher tapUse the following resources to help you learn about different approaches. Use the following Eight Approaches to Technology-Rich Learning from Teacher Tapfor ideas.

Keep It Simple

Activities don't need to be complex to be effective. Look for activities that don't require a lot of planning, but have high impact in terms of understanding and thinking.

Explore the American Gothic project. How many different ways is technology integrated into this learning experience? How is online reading incorporated? Can you think of ways that print literature could be incorporated?

Ongoing Activities

Do something daily. The more you read and write, the better you get. Involve different students or pairs of students in leading the class. For example, a different student each day could post a quote on the class PowerPoint presentation. Pairs of students could contribute a summary of the news to the class news program.

Teacher Tap iconDesign an activity that uses a daily resource.
Go to Daily Resources from Teacher Tap for ideas.


tiny teacher tap logoCreate a plan for involving young people in virtual clubs or groups.
Go to Face-to-Face and Virtual Book Clubs & Reading Groups from Teacher Tap.

One-Shot Events

Join an event. Whether it's a seasonal or annual event, students love the anticipation of a celebration. For example, consider a Mock Award Event. For example, each year Allen County Public Library hosts a Mock Caldecott, Newbery, and Sibert Award event where people read and select their favorites from a lost of nominees.

tiny teacher tap logoGo to Online Annual Events from Teacher Tap.

tiny teacher tap logoGo to Contests, Fairs, and Publishing: Sharing On The Web from Teacher Tap.

Communicating Ideas

Consider ways to get students excited about writing. There are many simple activities you can do with the computer such as "Ask an Expert" or "Write a E-Card" assignments.

Design an activity that uses an electronic postcard website as part of a writing activity. Students can write book reviews, discussion book characters, create a poem based on a postcard picture, or write a short report.

teacher tap iconGo to Electronic Postcards in the Classroom from Teacher Tap.

tiny teacher tap logoGo to Magnet Poetry, Stories, & Mad Libs: Writing Fun On The Web from Teacher Tap.

tiny teacher tap logoGo to Ask-An-Expert from Teacher Tap.

Interactive Projects

Use the power of the Internet. Web-based tools, games, interactive stories, simulations, and other active websites can generate excitement in your classroom.

Teacher Tap iconTry some online activities. Go to Interactive Websites, Games, and Activities from Teacher Tap for ideas.

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Develop Cool Connections

It's time to put all of these ideas into a form that you can use with young people. Think about ways to make cool connections between books and learning.

Springboard

Gain and maintain the interest of your students with an engaging literature connection.

The book provides a great focal point for reading and learning. Start with a question to explore, or a problem to solve that will kick off the experience. Draw student interest by reading a quote from the book, asking about a word or phrase, or showing a picture. Use a website to stimulate interest in the book and the topic. Play an audio clip from a website, show a colorful picture, or point out a table of contents with motivating links.

Develop springboards throughout the reading experiences. For instance, you might identify a photo as a discussion starter for each chapter.

Mission

Think about how to put the themes of the book into a meaningful context for young people.

Consider developing a scenario or case study to serve as the setting for the project. Ask students to take on a role or serve as a detective as they explore the information found on the Internet. For example, how would a character in the book react to a particular situation?

Information Exploration

Provide specific resources and guidance in their reading.

Stay focused. Rather than "surfing" around, provide students with three or four specific sites or pages to examine. If the site is large, identify a few pages or even a specific picture or paragraph. Consider the reading level of your students. How much information can they reasonably skim and use?

The activity must be flexible enough to evolve as the web resources change. For example, rather than posing specific questions that match a specific web page, ask a question that requires the student to apply the information they find at the site.

Active Involvement

Involve young people in critical and creative thinking. Take action.

Ask students to do something with the information they find. They could hold a debate, create a poster, or write a letter. Use a variety of technology in project development. For example, students might develop a poster or build a PowerPoint presentation. They could create an audio recording or a videotape to share with others. It's sometimes difficult to come up with ideas for nontraditional projects.

Provide students with specific guidelines for competing their assignment including directions, step-by-step instructions, models, and other assistance.

Closure/Transfer

Bring the activity to a positive conclusion. Involve young people in sharing, communicating, and reflecting.

Share your project with others. For example, your class might connect with another class and read the book together! Your class might communicate with an expert related to a topic discussed in the book. You could even e-mail an author!

Try It!
Build your own cool connection for a book.

Explore books and resources related to the Underground Railroad such as Henry's Freedom Box.

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Go to Step 6: Implement and Evaluate

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