Literacy is essential for work, learning and life. It’s how we interact and communicate with the world around us. It’s so important that in the United States we dedicate an entire month of awareness to the written word!
But reading isn’t easy for all kids – or adults for that matter. Reading is a complex cognitive process that takes place in our brains. We decode symbols and derive meaning. Our brains may do this process differently, which means we may sometimes have problems with decoding, interpreting, and comprehending these symbols. In fact, it was found that nearly 32 million adults in the United States can’t read above a fifth grade level, and 19% of high school graduates can’t read.
Odysseyware recognizes that reading has a profound impact on people’s lives. This is why we include built in instructional support and literacy tools to give our students the support they need, when they need it – any time, any place.
You don’t have to be an English Language Learner (ELL) to be able to tap into the power of having all text translated into 23 different languages! Students can have any text they wish – from a single word to a full page – translated for them.
Fun March is Reading Month Activity: Challenge students to choose a word each day from a lesson to translate into a language they’d like to learn.
It doesn’t matter what grade a student is in, they often come across words that fly over their heads. Let’s face it – we experience the same as adults! It’s part of learning, and life! However, not understanding words can change the context of what we’re reading. We also sometimes try to insert or substitute words that we think are correct, when they’re really not. (When I was teaching, one of the Words of the Day was malaprop. Wow, did my kids come up with some doozies! It was kind of like Mad Libs.)
Because it’s common for us to come across words we don’t understand, another valuable literacy tool available to students is the “Vocabulary/Reference” button in Odysseyware. This allows students to get point of use access to definitions, correct pronunciation, and even background information on any words or phrases.
Fun March is Reading Month Activity: Have students pick a word or phrase they’re struggling to understand or pronounce and look it up using the ‘Reference’ tool. Then have students create a “Note” in the side margin using the word or phrase in a different sentence. (Or have fun exploring malaprop!)
In addition to a lesson’s key vocabulary being read aloud, students can also choose any words from a lesson, unit, quiz, or test, to be read to them through text-to-speech audio support. We take it step further by allowing students to choose the voice-type (male, female, dialect or not) of the narrator! (I think we all have certain voice pitches that just doesn’t sit well with our middle ear.) While text is being read out loud, students are able to follow along with automated highlighting and tracking of words.
Fun March is Reading Month Activity: Have students pick a word to be read aloud to them via the literacy tools. Students will listen to this same word using a couple of different narrators. Have students make a “Note” (see below) about what sound (pitch) they most enjoyed and which one they did not. Ask them to hypothesize why. Assign one or both of the lessons titled “Sound” (from Science 700, Unit ‘Energy & Motion’) or “Ear Training #3: Pitch” (from Music Theory, ‘Unit 2: Notion & Pitch’) to further explore why we hear sounds differently. Don’t forget that you can create your own lesson from scratch if you want to take this to an Epic Level!
Now to the feature I’ve been hinting at: The Note tool. Students have the ability to take notes within context of the lesson. These notes can be color-coded (teaching them great organization skills) which promotes informal writing and annotating text. Another amazing feature of ‘Notes’ is that all the notes a student, or teacher, has created can be printed and used as a study guide, or turned in to the teacher as an extra part of an assignment.
Fun March is Reading Month Activity: After students have made a few notes using any of the activities above, have them print them and do a round-table discussion with other peers about what they found interesting or something new they learned. After all, we know that when we teach someone else something, we remember it best!