Big Universe was founded in 2007 with the mission of improving the world through education. We prepare students for college and career using digital solutions for K-12 that accelerate literacy by inspiring students and empowering teachers. Our research indicates that Big Universe is an effective digital platform to help improve literacy and engage students in reading. So we know that technology can be effective for improving literacy, but what are some other ways that technology can be used to improve literacy for our students?
- Voice Reading Apps or Software – Apps and software for voice reading text are available for portable devices and computers. These tools can be especially useful for students who are struggling readers. Many of these tools allow the students to follow along with the text while it is being read aloud. This can help them learn to be more confident readers, it can improve reading comprehension levels and it can help them learn larger vocabulary words. Using tools like this can help struggling readers move from listeners to contributors in class discussions about assigned books or reading passages. As they continue to listen to a variety of texts being read aloud, they begin to develop the necessary skills to do the reading themselves.
- Literacy Apps – There are a variety of literacy apps that can be used to develop reading skills, especially in younger readers. These apps cover a range of literacy skills including reading comprehension, phonics, composition (for creating stories and books), spelling, vocabulary and writing. These apps can be used to target specific student needs in a personalized learning environment, or just in general to help reinforce concepts for an entire class. A number of these apps are especially useful because they allow students to have the amount of repetition necessary to master early literacy skills. These apps often employ a variety of learning modalities, including visual, kinesthetic and auditory, so students are able to learn through the method that works best for them.
- Writing Software – An important aspect of literacy is learning to write. In a recent blog post (http://blog.biguniverse.com/apps-teachers-should-know-about-and-use), I wrote about an app called “Write About This.” This helps improve students’ writing by generating a variety of writing prompts on an assortment of topics. Apps like this help encourage creative writing from students. Even just basic word processing software is helpful for students who are learning to write. It allows them to spell-check as they go, have instant access to a dictionary and a thesaurus, and freely write with the ability to go back and quickly change, edit and reorganize ideas. Word prediction software can also help students improve their writing skills. This software is designed to generate a list of likely words based on the first few letters the student types. Creative writing software can also help encourage students to write by easily allowing them to add pictures, audio and video to their writing.
Big Universe takes literacy very seriously. We encourage you to explore these tools to help your students become better readers and writers because we believe that literacy is the foundation to helping them become better citizens who will one day make a positive difference in our world… and our big universe.