Volume 58, Issue 8
Throughout my teaching career, I have always been known as the “math guru” in the building. I love math and always have. The best part about math is that answers are either right or they are wrong. Yes, the strategies to solve math problems can be different, but the result is always concrete.
Reading is a different story. As a child, I struggled with reading comprehension. Truth be told, I read The Hobbit in junior high, but I couldn’t comprehend any of it. I wasn’t into reading, and reading anything was not my cup of tea.
As a teacher, I often struggle with trying to explain to a student why an answer is the way it is. Unlike math, reading always has a gray area when it comes to correct answers. When trying to assess a student’s open-ended response, I always think, “Yes, okay, I can understand why you said that.”
When planning math lessons, I’ve always found it easy to find some fun math game on the Internet to engage my students. The kids love it when they can play a basketball game online while at the same time practice their multiplication facts. Therefore, as a self-contained teacher who teaches every subject to my fourth graders, I wanted my students to have the same experience with reading comprehension games. The search was quite difficult, but I finally ended up locating the Into the Book website: https://reading.ecb.org/.
Into the Book is a Common Core aligned creation of PBS Wisconsin Education along with the Wisconsin Department of Public Education and a group of experienced educators. This website focuses on eight learning strategies: using prior knowledge, making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, summarizing, evaluating, and synthesizing.
The website has two features. The student website, which is available in English and Spanish, has interactive reading comprehension activities, while a teacher website includes teacher guides, lesson plans, video clips, andmore to assist teachers in effective ways to teach the eight learning strategies.
THE STUDENT SIDE:
The login process is very simple for students. They can either skip the login process altogether, or they can type in their first name. Once they type
this in, they will get a password key they can keep. With this option, their work will be saved. I highly recommend this option! This website is perfectly
safe. Into the Book does not collect any personally identifiable information, and any email address they enter at the end of their strategy work is only
to share their work and are not saved to the website.
Students have the option of clicking on any of the strategies or do a strand that combines all the strategies. For teachers, I would recommend specifying the strategy path for them if you are working on a particular skill in class. They are instantly transformed into whimsical stories and
information, with a beginning video that explains that specific skill. Students are then required to complete various tasks to complete that skill.
Some of the highlights of the student side:
• The text can be read to them. This is great for students who need modifications for playing.
• Instant answers are given to students.
• Many activities require students to do a lot of locating information within a text. This is an excellent Kentucky Academic Standards skill.
• Students are allowed to choose stories for each strategy. As we all know, student choice helps with engagement.
• Hints are provided for students who need extra assistance with understanding the strategy.
• Each of the eight strategies is different in how they are presented. For example, in the visualizing skill, students can draw pictures that represent the story that is being told to them. The website then plays their “movie” of pictures. This can then be emailed to the teacher. This is a great way for the teacher to assess their visual understanding of stories.
THE TEACHER SIDE:
For the teacher, accessing the educational resources is also very simple. Once you’ve navigated to the main Into the Book website, click on “About this Project” on the bottom left-hand side of the page. You will then see the word “Resources” with all eight strategies listed underneath. Just click on one, and you will be given several different resources.
Some of the highlights of the teacher side:
• A definition of the skill as well as a “student-friendly” definition is given. This is great for elementary children.
• Mini-lessons are provided for each strategy. Depending on the lesson, graphic organizers are suggested to help with the reading skill.
• Book recommendations are provided to focus on that reading comprehension strategy.
• Videos are provided to show students how to use various strategies. Included with this is a video teaching guide for the teacher.
• Printable posters are provided to give students a graphic of how to remember the strategy.
• Songs are also available to help remember the skills.
Into the Book is a great starting point for teachers to introduce the skill and an even better place for students to practice the strategies afterwards.
For online practicing of reading comprehension, this is a must for classroom teachers to try. Students will be swept away into the magical
world of reading!