Are you looking for a way to motivate your young readers, involve them in active learning, and help them build language skills -- all in the same lesson? Why not use the Web to enhance the reading process?
Before you introduce young students to the power of the Web, you may wish to provide some simple lessons in "safe surfing." (Keeping students safe on the Internet is always a concern for teachers.) Several Web sites may help build your students' reading and comprehension skills while they learn to use the Internet safely!
Students seem to learn best when their reading incorporates content from a variety of subject areas. Many resources on the Web tie reading to other areas of the curriculum. Among them are two Web pages this author created that might serve as guides for teachers who want to integrate the Internet, language arts, and content areas of the curriculum.
The first site is Treasures@Sea: Exploring the Ocean Through Literature, an extensive Web resource consisting of Web-based learning activities that integrate language arts with oceanography. Each of the seven adaptable activities is based on a children's book about the ocean. The site includes writing activities, games and puzzles, art ideas, Web resources, and a special section just for teachers.
Then you might check out Dino-Mania, a Web site that integrates the study of dinosaurs with language arts. Web-based learning activities for eight children's books about dinosaurs include writing activities, games and puzzles, and examples of student work. There is an extensive list of Web resources and a section for teachers.
Creative teachers can connect almost any book to the Internet in valuable ways. The Web can motivate students to read by opening virtual doors to people and faraway places that would otherwise be inaccessible to them; such virtual visits often make reading much more meaningful! For example, you might read Possum Magic, by Mem Fox, aloud. Then you could take the class on a virtual tour of Australia to see the sights that Grandma Poss and Hush saw as they traveled around Australia. (Take the activity a step further by contacting a teacher in Australia. You might be able to exchange information about the animals in the story with Australian students.)
Students can contact and interact with authors through Web sites. Such notable authors as Jan Brett, Eric Carle, Suse MacDonald, and Dr. Seuss have official Web sites that include activities to go along with their books. Students can even post a message to Hedgie or send e-mail to the Cat in the Hat.
Teachers and students will find familiar, lovable characters from their favorite books at home on the characters' own Web pages.
Making the connection between reading and writing is crucial to improving literacy skills in young students. Sites such as KidLit, Young Writer's Workshop, and Stone Soup encourage students to send in stories, poems, and essays for publication. Seeing their work published for a worldwide audience is a powerful incentive for students to write.
The Web's colorful graphics, sounds, and animations can make Web-based reading very appealing. Many sites offer students opportunities to interact with story characters and to make choices as they read. For example, Theodore Tugboat is a popular site for young students. They can help Theodore decide what to do next in the story, have a story read to them by the computer, or enjoy the games and puzzles. At Wacky Tales, students can enter words to complete wacky tales. They'll enjoy reading them back to fellow students.
If you'd like to share poetry with your young readers, the whimsical Poetry for Kids, by Ken Nesbitt, is sure to be a favorite. After reading some of the on-line poems, students might write some original poetry in the same style. Mother Goose Rebus Rhymes is another good place for young students to practice their reading skills. Students can visit the Favorite Poem Project, where U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky shares audio and video of people reading their favorite poems. Students are invited to participate by sending in their favorite poems.
The Web can help your young students learn the alphabet. The wealth of alphabet sites include the following:
A LIBRARY OF LANGUAGE LESSON PLANS!
Teachers, you don't need to reinvent the wheel! Many sites, offering tons of lesson plans and ideas for using the Web, can enhance your reading curriculum. You might take a look at just a few of these sites.
Article by Hazel Jobe
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