Using graded readers with technology

Hi and welcome to my blog if you're coming to the talk on using graded readers with technology which I'm giving at various Macmillan Teachers' Days in Spain between now and early May (see dates).

You now have an edited version of my presentation here and on Slideshare.

Below, you have links to some of the tools I'll be mentioning and let me add this: class readers (unabridged versions as well as graded readers) and technology are unquestionably among the most successful things that I've done in language classrooms in the last 30 plus years.

Technology (nowadays) is obviously going to be successful (though you want to make sure it's the learners, not you using it; and that it's being used in ways that will actually lead to language practice and learning).

On the other hand, no one reads nowadays, do they? And your young learners probably say they "hate" reading, don't they? But I think that if you can get them to talk about what they're reading, and get them to respond creatively to it, and if you harness what they're reading to some of the possibilities the web offers us today, then books can still be successful in the 21st century.

Web 2.0 tools
I've deliberately choose tools which you may already have heard of, and hope to show you how they could be used with graded readers. The ones I'm going to be mentioning include the following:

Blogger | Edmodo | Glogster | Google Docs | Pixlr | Posterous | Prezi | Tiki-Toki | Vocaroo |  Wordle | Voki | ZimmerTwins

See also
Macmillan Readers | Guide to using graded readers | More reading activities

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  1. If you came to the session, do ask any questions you might have had afterwards.

    I'll answer below a couple that people did ask later in the day.

  2. A question someone (Carlos?) asked me after session today:

    How long should you spend doing a graded reader with a class?

    I'd say it's vital that you should have stopped using it before it has become boring so, "not too long".

    I don't recall ever having spent longer than 5-6 weeks on a reader. Longer, and you risk turning your learners off reading – exactly the contrary to what you're aiming for!

  3. Another question from the session:

    What if you've got huge differences of level in the same class, with some kids elementary while others are, say, upper-intermediate?

    I suggested that my preference –because I want my learners to talk about the book, because I want it to be a shared experience– is for a class reader (all reading the same book), rather than a class library (all reading different readers).

    However, if I did have huge differences of level, that might be a case for doing different books, of different levels.

    You might consider putting your learners into groups of 3-5 learners, and have each group read and discuss a book of appropriate level (Edmodo "small groups" are perfect for that!); they could still "present" it to the class, and also present to the class what they produced on different books doing some of the tasks I suggested.

  4. You suggested this one to me, Tom, but as you know in the end it didn't work so well (though I still like the idea :-)!
    I tried to get my elementary students to read one book and the better ones in the same class, people whose level was way ahead, to read BOTH that book AND another one from a different level, so that everyone could talk about the easier book. Didn't work as the "better" ones said it was "unfair" and refused to read it! Un beso, K.

  5. Teens, Kate, teens!

  6. Totally :-)!

  7. Another question someone asked me after the session:

    What about Primary? Would you do graded readers there?

    In Primary I think I'd adopt a different approach and read (or rather tell) the story to the class myself, using storytelling and "live listening" techniques.

    That's actually really how I started with "readers", though what I had were unabridged children's books, which the kids in Fifth of Primaria wanted me to read to them (possibly because they were bored to tears with drills, which were very much in vogue at the time!).

    The books were way, way beyond their level but they seemed to enjoy things like Red Riding Hood, nevertheless.

    And you can still get the kids to "participate" by acting out bits of the story and so on.

  8. I suggested a couple of tasks to get the learners interested in the subject of reading.

    There are some fun videos about books on reading that might also serve that purpose on the amazing Larry Ferlazzo site.

  9. My students are adults (in-company) and they are not very keen on reading either. Do you think I could use these tasks with them? Do adult students enjoy them?

  10. Welcome to my blog, Natalia.

    Well, I was thinking specifically about teens for the purposes of this session, but yes, I think you could do most if not all of them with adults.

    It will depend on your group. You get groups of adults that are "young" (but that's not so much a question of age!), and you also get some that might find some of the tasks a bit childish (Voki, for example, or videoing a scene). They probably won't ask their Mums and Dads what they know about Ghandi (!), but they could go ask their partners and/or their own kids, and report back in the same way!

    But apart from those, I think they'd all work with adults; I'll found creative writing works particularly with them (even when they've been adults who say they don't like writing: make it collaborative and creative, and it becomes a lot more interesting).

    Best advice I can give you: know your learners, whatever age they are, and know what will work with them.

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