How to Easily Integrate Technology with Guided Reading Groups Part 2

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As my school has acquired more and more guided reading materials (little books in sets of 6), I had more resources from which to choose from for each group.  But we now live in the digital age, and it has opened up, even more, resources to use with students.  

Instead of reading from a traditional little book, my guided reading students read a text on the iPad.  What is exciting about using the iPad is that I can select ANY text passages that I find (within copyright limitations and Fair Use) and put it on the iPad for the students to read.  There are several ways to do this.  Any document or text that is a PDF or JPG (picture format) can be displayed on the iPad.  You can also download the PowerPoint App to use PowerPoint presentations as well.   So, the possibilities are endless. 

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Getting Text or Materials onto the iPads

Once the file (PDF or PNG) is in the Google Drive folder, I can now download it to the PDF Expert App because the App will sync with Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive or nearly any other cloud service!  Another reason to get PDF Expert is that if you want students to annotate on the PDF file, you will need this App.  

Other Apps can annotate, but in my opinion, PDF Expert is the best one for annotation.  PDF Expert also has the capability to create documents as well!  So you can create your own text and save it as a PDF file.  Please note, I have no affiliation or contact with the company that produces PDF Expert.  I just really love this App!

Here's how I get the passages onto the iPads.  For this, you will need a Google or Dropbox account synced to each iPad.  I've created a folder on my iPad Pro to store the passages I want.  This folder is on my Google Drive.  I've also purchased the App PDF Expert.  I've written about how I use this fantastic App before. Once you've purchased it, install it on every iPad.

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Can I Copy That?  Fair Use Doctrine

If you're going digital, most copyright holders would require that you upload these documents to a secure, private location such as Google Drive account or DropBox account so that it is NOT available to anyone else EXCEPT your students.   Please be a good digital citizen and DO NOT upload copyrighted resources to just any location.  With Apple products, files can also be shared wirelessly through AirDrop.  

I pick resources from PDF documents I have created or found through Google Search (free, but copyrighted resources that are offered to teachers for use in their classrooms).  Sometimes I use free and paid resources I have found on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Always check the Terms of Use of the copyright holder to see what is and what is not allowed.  

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Teachers, under the Fair Use Doctrine, may copy a story for student use though the amount varies depending on story length.  I am NOT an attorney nor a legal expert, so please make sure you understand the legal ramifications before you start.  If you already have existing copies of a text for your students (let's say six copies of a guided reading book), and you are digitizing the book to use on the iPads, Fair Use seems to cover this use.  However, if you are making copies of the book because you only have six and need 10, then Fair Use does not apply because you should buy the extra copies from the publisher.  If you already own sufficient copies or have a license to use a resource, Fair Use applies.   The best solution for finding PDF resources is to use resources from publishers that offer digital content such as:

Reading A-Z. (paid site)

Classroom Aid (website with links to free e-books and PDF digital libraries)

Sundance Publishing (an example of a publisher offering print and digital versions)

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Why Bother?

Why do this if I already have copies of the books?  Because in PDF Expert, the students can use the tools to annotate or even zoom in on words.  Again, please make sure you understand how the Fair Use Doctrine applies to educators as well as, reading the Terms of Use of the copyright holder.

Once uploaded to the Google Drive folder, I open the PDF on the iPads.  PDF Expert syncs with many cloud services.  So it's just a matter of finding the folder in the Google Drive folder and it quickly uploads to the iPad and opens in PDF Expert.  You're now Ready for Guided Reading!

Then I conduct a guided reading group as I normally would, but instead of giving them a book, I hand them the iPad.  When you first start, you will have to do a separate lesson on how to use the tools in PDF Expert or whichever App you will be using. This way, when they are in the guided reading group, they can concentrate on reading and not get stuck with the technology.

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Using the PDF Expert Tools

  • Highlighter Tool
Depending on the group, I may have them highlight unknown words using the highlighter tool.  Unknown words are words that the students do not understand but can read.  Many times I have seen students highlight the same word, so those words become teaching points or mini-lessons on using context clues for word definitions.  Teaching students to use context clues is one of the most critical skills students need to be successful at comprehending text.  I can also use my teacher iPad (or the students can do this on their iPad, too) to search Google Images for the word for further clarification.

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  • Dictionary Tool (define)
Tap and hold any word, and you get an option for define.  Great again for learning unknown words.  Sometimes though, the definition are geared for adults, so they are not kid-friendly definitions.

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  • Draw Tool
If a student can't read a word, I have them circle it with the draw tool.  Then I quickly copy it on my iPad using the ShowMe App, and I start prompting the student to use different strategies to solve it.  The ShowMe app allows me to use different colors so that I can even write parts of the word in various colors (great for finding the known such as sight words within bigger words).  

  • Note tool
This is such a great feature of this app. Originally intended to use for marking up PDFs, this handy tool allows students to answer questions, make predictions, add their own information, or any other task. Think of it as an electronic sticky note!

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  • Arrow Tool
This is a handy tool which is part of the shape tools can be used for students to point to text features.  Have students make an arrow to show headings, titles, captions, hyperlinks, etc.  Or you can use the arrow key to point out specific academic vocabulary (describe, explain, infer, etc.). 

  • Shape tool
This tool allows the student to make squares, rectangles, and circles.  Use it to have the student box or encircle key paragraphs that contain evidence.  

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  • Text tool
As the name implies, you can add more text with a textbox to any part of the PDF.  You can use this in place of the Note Tool or have students make connections or predictions.  

  • Sound Tool
You can add audio to PDFs!  Just simply tap and hold on the PDF, and you will see an option to add sound.  This is a great way for students to practice fluency, intonation, and rate.  They can record themselves reading directly from the iPad.  Then play it back to hear.  Upload a Reader’s Theater to use so students can practice reading with expression.  When the student record’s himself/herself, it automatically keeps track of the time to show how long of a recording.  That’s a great feature to use to practice rate.  Beat your time!

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  • Text to Speech

Yes, it has a text to speech function!  Located in settings.  You can also just tap and hold a word to get the option for speak.  It will speak aloud the word.  I prefer students NOT use this feature as it takes away the possibilities for word solving.  However, if the student is reading something independently, then it’s a nice feature to have to help students complete the reading without getting hung up on words.

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In short, this powerful App brings guided reading into the digital age.  I predict that more and more publishers will not only offer their guided reading materials in digital format but create Apps that integrate many of the tools found in PDF Expert.

How are you integrating technology with guided reading?

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