Social reading is revolutionizing the way anyone reads. While most participate in social media, such as Facebook or Twitter in their personal lives, social media in the form of social reading is expanding into the classroom, making reading more enjoyable and exciting for all readers young and old. The basis of social reading is simple, through the use of apps and devices reading goes beyond the actual words on the page and opens up a myriad of options for readers to share their thoughts, favorite quotes, and overall opinions of the things they have read. Social reading apps allow readers to connect and share, much like a book group, all through the use of technology. These 5 social reading apps make communicating about books and literature very simple and enjoyable all from the comforts of a tablet or smartphone.
Subtext is an app that allows teachers to merge their lessons with the assigned reading.Through the interface anyone can upload their instruction and embed it within the pages of the ebook, pdf, or article. Subtext is actually built to be operated in the K12 classroom, so everyone can read together and follow the same worksheets right on the iPad. There are options to layer in prompts, website links, and videos to further enhance the reading and expand the learning. There is even a “Get Class on Same Page” feature that allows the instructor to double tap the page, bringing all invited tablets (like the entire classroom) to the same page, allowing the class to follow along in unison. Since this app is made for the classroom there are features that allow multiple students to log in and complete their work, keeping their results between the student and the teacher. This could work well if the classroom only has a few digital devices to complete work on, and also teaches the students about internet safety and the importance of logging out when they finish their work.
Teachers looking to enhance a students reading through quotes and social networking should try Readmill. Through a clean and easy interface students can highlight fascinating quotes, such as those they enjoyed or those that answered an assigned reading question. Highlights can be shared with friends, which may include the teacher’s account, and allows students to see what others in the room may be reading. There is also a feature to alert readers of how far they’ve read, and how much of the book is left; something that is helpful when setting page requirements. This app would be useful for teachers who implement free reading in the classroom along with assigned reading. The students could use it to network with each other and discuss both sets of books. Books can be uploaded and synced through Readmill.com as well as the iPad or smartphone.
Some students may find they get distracted when assigned to read an article on a webpage. Dotdotdot Reader allows teachers to upload the article into the app, rendering it free of distractions and smoother to read. This app allows teachers to also save webpages for later reading, creating a queue of sorts. By making the articles easier to follow this will allow students to become more interactive with the text, instead of distracted by the usual ads. Within the article quotes can be highlights and comments can be made, making group reading more enjoyable and furthering the discussion after the class has completed the assignment. Each article read becomes part of a personal library, chronicling the text, the reading, and the work that was done in each piece. This can be useful for both student and teacher, allowing the articles to be processed but also stored so no one can lose them later. It could be helpful to show a student their reading progress, or when the articles come into play later in the school year as a reference for a paper or an end of the year portfolio.
BookShout is a great app for those looking to create reading groups within the classroom. Sometimes reading a book within a group helps push students to complete the reading and participate in the discussions. Using BookShout students will have an interactive reading group through the tablet. Students can make comments on the reading, and even help each other with questions they may have had while they read that nights chapters. This could be helpful if teachers find they ran out of room to complete the discussion in the classroom, or if students are looking for a new way to discuss their reading. Each group is a “reading circle” indicating that the student could be in several circles, perhaps one with their peers and one with the teacher, providing a means to discuss questions they had or answer the worksheet through the app.
Free reading is a large part of furthering a student’s reading ability. While reading along with the class is important for group discussions and understanding literary devices, free reading helps the student gain independence by choosing their own topics and discussing the book with the teacher, or a small group of students. Goodreads is a useful app for creating reading lists and discovering new books. A teacher may create a list of potential books and allow a student to choose. Teachers may also monitor a student’s reading shelves, and suggest new books based on their previous choices. The app provides summaries and reviews of each book, and the website expands on that by allowing students to network with others and discuss their reading, along with making wish lists of books they’d like to read and books they have already finished. Reading groups can also be created on the goodreads.com allowing students to gain independence and complete the assignment online.
Samantha Kotey is the editor for AvatarGeneration and has a background in educational technology and virtual worlds. A mom of two, she is passionate about all things related to toys and technology.