Tap, Click, Read: New Tools for Teachers

With the arrival of e-readers, tablets, and other digital technology, educators of young children face some difficult choices. When used badly, new tools and software could distract from the mission of building language skills and raising strong readers. But when used well, certain tools can assist with individualized instruction and offer new motivation for children who struggle with reading. How to know which is which?

Last year, we released our book Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens to tackle this question. Sparked by the mission of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, we have a vision for building 21st century ecosystems of learning that marry the best of media and reading — ecosystems that we call Readialand.  We believe that these ecosystems can be created in communities around the country through new collaborations between educators, families, and community leaders.

This summer, we went a step further: We created a set of tools and downloadable resources based on the ideas and the research within it. They are now open, available and free of cost at tapclickread.org. 

This post highlights the resources that can assist educators who work in early learning classrooms and primary schools. As the school year gets underway, we hope these resources spark a push to use technology wisely and keep the emphasis on encourage children to read, converse, build background knowledge, and learn to becomes creators and communicators themselves using new tools. 

Five tools and tipsheets for use in classrooms and schools can be found under “In Your Classroom & School” on the Take Action page. They are:

  • What Educators Can Do—A list of recommendations for updating teaching methods, working with libraries and public media, and more.
  • How to Use Media to Support Children's Home Language—Used well, media can spark opportunities for children to converse with their family members at home in their native languages. This helps them build a foundation for learning English too.
  • How to Promote Creation and Authorship—Children need to learn what it means to be a creator, not just a consumer, of media. New tools bring this concept to life.
  • How to Find Apps for Literacy Learning—Choose wisely. Use app-review sites and advice from literacy experts to find materials that match your students' needs.
  • The Three C's—Content, context, and the individual child. Become more mindful in using digital technology with young children by taking this quiz.

These are one- and two-page PDFs designed to be shared with members of your community coalition, in professional learning communities, and throughout informal networks of educators throughout your early learning centers and primary schools. Download and share.

To stay up-to-date on these and other tools, follow us on Twitter at #TapClickRead and on Facebook by liking our page, Tap Click Read

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Lisa Guernsey is deputy director of the Education Policy Program at New America, a think tank and civic enterprise based in Washington, D.C. A former reporter at the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, she is the co-author, with Michael H. Levine, of Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens (2015), and she is also the author of Screen Time: How Electronic Media - From Baby Videos to Educational Software - Can Affect Your Young Child (2012).

Michael H. Levine is the executive founding director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, an independent non-profit organization based at Sesame Workshop. Prior to joining the Center, Michael served as Vice President for Asia Society, managing the global nonprofit’s interactive media and educational initiatives to promote knowledge and understanding of other world regions and cultures. Michael previously oversaw Carnegie Corporation of New York’s groundbreaking work in early childhood development, educational media, and primary grades reform and was a senior advisor to the New York City Schools Chancellor.

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