The process of guided reading where that has three core steps of before reading discussion, independent reading and after reading discussion is an interesting one to take online. This article will show you just how you can do that.
Below you will find relevant information covering the following topics:
- Equipment needed
- Learning Resources
- Hosting solutions
- Tips and tricks
Now you know what the most important aspects of a guided reading online course are. Let’s find out how every factor influences the teaching process.
Every online course has slight variations in terms of equipment needed. To teach guided reading online you need the following:
- Laptop or Computer
- Stable Internet Connection
- Scanner (optional)
Laptop or Computer
Online teaching is not a resource-demanding activity so usually, any decent laptop will do the work for you if it has been purchased in the last 4 years.. Tablets and Chrome books can work but not all software tools will be available for you if you are trying to do something more than the basics.
If you are planning on buying a new laptop for your online course the most important characteristics are the Processor, RAM and enough Hard Disk storage to store your training assets..
An Intel i3 processor (or equivalent) combined with 4 gigs of RAM is generally enough for any activity involved in the online teaching if you have an Solid State Disk (SSD). An SSD is just the latest form of computer storage. If your laptop has the older styles of hard disk you will need to bump up your RAM to at least 8gig.
And finally, if you want to have a bit more processing power you can purchase an Intel i5 (or equivalent) processor. That is what I use for my own personal laptop and I also run more advanced software packages.
Stable Internet Connection
Online courses require an active internet connection. If you want to conduct live meetings during your classes you should also take into consideration the speed of your internet connection.
I have been using the Internet in lots of countries around the world and I find that 10 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up is more than enough to handle everything you will need if it is just you on the connection. If you have your family on there as well you may wish to bump it up to the next plan.
If you are not sure whether your current internet connection can handle bandwidth-demanding activities, you should check its stats using an online speed tester. The most popular speed tester used worldwide is the Ookla Speed Test.
Most laptops feature an integrated camera. I do not recommend using it to teach guided reading online due to the poor quality. I also find you can never point it where you want which is really annoying without moving the whole laptop. Also the cheap webcams they put on laptops don’t have good low light or other features.
If you want to integrate the video call feature into your course, you should stick to a dedicated webcam. You can find the right tools on the Recommended Tools page.
You will need a microphone for the before and after review sessions and any headset style microphone will do and I have even just used the one that comes with my phone headset on occassion. .
Keep in mind that the built-in microphone of your laptop is not the perfect device to use for recording audio content or taking part in video calls. It will do in a pinch but it is not a directional microphone with noise cancelling.
You should take a look at the tools I recommend and decide what type of microphone you want to use during your classes. More expensive does not necessarily mean better. You can look at the Recommended Tools page here for a couple of microphones I actually use.
You can use a scanner for multiple activities related to guided reading. For example, you can scan reading passages for your students. If you have already printed passages you do not have to transform them back into electronic format. Just be mindful of copyright when you are doing things like this and know what you are allowed to do.
SightWords is an online platform that provides free resources for teaching children to read. It is quite popular among guided reading online teachers.
Its resources contain teaching activities and techniques as well as materials that can be used while teaching. The website also features a blog that is very useful for both the teachers and the parents.
On Sight Words website you can find useful materials that increase students’ phonemic awareness. This includes phoneme sound pronunciation, phonemic awareness games, and many more activities. There is also a section of the website dedicated to counting.
BookBuilder is an online tool that allows teachers to create personalized books for their students. There are several book layouts you can use for free. Most of them contain 8 pages. You will get precise instructions that will guide you throughout the process.
All you have to do to get your own personalized book is to perform the following steps:
- Select a book layout
- Type in your student’s name
- Click the ‘Build Book’ button
- Print out the PDF
- Cut the pages and staple them together
You can print the book directly from your browser without having to download it on your laptop. You can integrate the personalized books in your online course by assigning different reading tasks to your students. For example, if you are using Google Classroom, you can ask them to record themselves reading and submit the recording for grading.
There are various ways in which you can use an online whiteboard during your guided reading classes. For example, you can use it to play crosswords with your students to enhance their vocabulary and also for your beginning and wrap up discussions.
If you do not know what online whiteboard to use here are 7 best online whiteboards.
You can also use the whiteboard as a magnetic board. The students can add letters and spell words to enhance their guided reading skills in live sessions and show you on their board or yours.
ABC Talking Magnetic Board
This iOS app provides a standalone magnetic board that can be used by students to improve their spelling and reading competencies. Apart from the visual component, the app will also read the words aloud so that the children will also understand the pronunciation.
The only major drawback is that it cannot be synchronized with your online course. You cannot add content or grade students’ work using this app.
On the other hand, it can be successfully integrated in assignments and homework tasks. You can ask your students to provide screen recordings that show their progress or even screenshots that prove their pace.
When it comes to hosting your online guided reading course there are multiple viable options. You can choose between Learning Management Systems (LMS) that provide powerful features and standalone websites that increase your course’s exposure.
The most popular online hosting solutions for your guided reading course are:
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
This type of hosting solution involves using a platform that only supports your training content and educational process. It does not bring in students or market exposure other than what you market for yourself. If you have a solid list of students interested in your course you should stick to an LMS where you have full control.
Moodle is one of the most popular learning management systems available at the moment. It features some important functions such as
- Open-source plugins
- Paid cloud-based storage
- Audio-video capabilities (BigBlueButton)
- Advanced support
This is probably the most well-known LMS. Its use increased during the Covid-19 pandemic as it is provided by a trusted company (Google).
It can be successfully used for teaching guided reading online thanks to its wide variety of supporting training content formats.
These are websites that provide online courses in all domains. The main advantage is that this kind of hosting provides you a continuously-growing student database that may or may not be interested in your course.
Udemy is a database that contains over 100,000 online courses taught by experts. It is one of the most well-known video-tutorial websites. This is a marketplace for pretty much every course you can imagine and they help you with your marketing but heavily discount your course cost and take a share of your profits.
Skillshare is probably is another popular website for online courses. It has thousands of students that are currently taking various courses. While it does not discount your courses like Udemy its payment method is in how many hours students on premium memberships view your training. So essentially you don’t get to set the pricing for your course.
Tips And Tricks
When it comes to teaching online you should take advantage of any piece of advice from experts in the domain. Below you will find my best bets in terms of tips and tricks for teaching guided reading online.
Do Your Best
It is very important to have a high-quality course. Regardless of the circumstances do not choose quantity over quantity. There are lots of good quality training online and if you want to attract students you need to add extra value to your students and aids for parents is alway a good idea.
Here are some articles that will help you with creating your online training content:
Keep The Students Motivated
Lack of motivation is one of the most common reasons why students drop out of online courses. Make sure you provide them constant motivational activities. It can go anywhere from appreciating their hard work to sending out motivational emails, audio or video clips..
Here is an article that discusses some of the common reasons whey students drop out of online courses.
Adapt Your Teaching Style
Students are different from one another and they have different skill levels and competencies just like in real classes. So it is very important to adapt your teaching style to more effective ways of teaching online.
I personally find I do a lot more talking in online training courses and using active listening skills to check for understanding if you are not using a video conference.