Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cleaning up the Distractions

I've recently attended professional developments on reading apprenticeship and teaching students how to read informational text.  One of the concerns that came up is getting quality text for students to read.  Most of the science and social studies classes at our school only have one class set of books, which means that if a students want to take a book home, they have to check one out, and hopefully bring it back the next day.  I've had good results getting online sources of information using websites like Newsela, where you can search by subject, and then adjust reading level.

Aside from being able to individualize the articles, another nice thing about Newsela is the fact that when you are reading the articles, the website is relatively clear of distractions.  Sometimes, however, you find an article on the web from another news source that fits perfectly with what you're currently working on in class - the only problem is that there are ads peppered around the screen trying to grab your attention away from what you want the students to read.  Enter apps like Readability and Evernote Clearly.  Both of these extensions, which can be downloaded to your Chrome browser toolbar, or onto a Chromebook, allow you to clean up the background of the article and just show you the text and pictures that actually pertain the the article itself.