6 tips for teaching reading and writing skills in any classroom

November 29, 2021Angelia Simpson

Teaching reading and writing skills through technology calls for innovation and creativity; luckily, thinking on one’s feet and problem solving come naturally to teachers. All that’s needed are quality resources to hone skills for creating reading and writing lessons that are both developmentally appropriate and engaging about various english and language arts skills such as phonics, fluency, reading comprehension, decoding, and more. Nearpod takes a lot of the guesswork out of how to create and teach quality reading and writing skills lessons. These 6 tips for teaching reading and writing in the classroom are quick and easy, but also add more content and student control into any ELA block.

1. Phonemic Awareness

The foundation to English and language arts skills is phonemic awareness, which is anything students can do in the dark. The ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words is the basis for language itself. We talk before reading. If students aren’t successful in phonemic awareness, it’s a predictor of reading success or failure. That’s why it’s important for teachers to be conscientious and deliberate in teaching this reading skill. Nearpod’s many visual tools advance phonemic awareness instruction to new levels. There’s a vast array of activities teachers can create in Nearpd to teach phonemic awareness to engage and challenge students. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use Drag and Drop for students to sort pictures based on beginning, middle, or ending sounds.
  2. Use VR Field Trips where students search for items in virtual environments in lessons in “I-Spy” manner: “I spy with my little eye something that ends with the /d/ sound.” Modify this activity to fit any phonemic awareness skill or make them more advanced as students progress.
  3. Use the Draw It tool for students to upload pictures of multisyllabic and monosyllabic words then have students segment and write how many syllables are in the word.
  4. Use Matching Pairs to make pair cards to aid students in rhyming words.

2. Phonics

If the Science of Reading tells us anything, it’s that phonics must be systematic and explicit. Never leave students guessing. Inside the classroom, student’s work at various spelling levels. What teachers need most are phonics lessons that are easy to create and differentiate for all learners inside the classroom. Spending hours in front of the copier or cutting out game pieces for said activities isn’t ideal or efficient. Plus, teachers have to store all those games somewhere. Nearpod activities take so little time creating, and once teachers make a lesson, it can act as a template for more differentiated activities. Here are a few lesson ideas for phonics instruction:

  1. Use Drag and Drop for students to create word sorts based on spelling patterns, prefixes and suffixes, and syllable types. For example, have students sort the three sounds of -ed, or -sion, -tion.
  2. Use Time to Climb to engage students in spelling. Answers developed vary from written to using pictures. Make word chain questions to keep students on their feet with multiple spelling patterns. Have students start with spelling “meat” then have the next question be “Would you like to ____________ after school?” Gets more complex spellers higher level thinking, but in fun ways.
  3. Create vivid slideshows that are charts for students reference throughout the lesson. Upload R controlled vowel charts, l-blend charts, diphthongs, vowel-teams. Students refer back to charts throughout the lesson. This is good for introducing phonics concepts or reviewing previously taught concepts.
  4. Use Open-Ended questions connecting the sound a phoneme makes with its grapheme (written form). Record a  sound through the audio feature, and students write the spelling in an open-ended question. Also, students practice full dictation skills where teachers record themselves saying a sentence and students write what they hear.

3. Fluency

Fluency is all about reading like how people talk. The only way students become more fluent readers is by having multiple opportunities to read while also experiencing what fluent reading sounds like. All of these activities give students much needed practice to help with accuracy, speed, and expression. Whoopie!  

  1. Audio Open-Ended Questions practice. Have students record audio of themselves reading a passage in the open ended question to you. To help with timed assessments, add a time limit to better prepare students for timed running records or other timed Daily Oral Reading Fluency assessments.
  2. Use Draw It for students to practice “Scoop Phrases” technique. Upload sentences where students have to group words together to train their eyes to read phrases instead of word by word.  Students mark the sentences up, then read the phrases aloud.
  3. Use Nearpod’s Collaboration Board for practice with punctuation. Write a sentence without any punctuation and have students decide what punctuation would be best and the students read the sentence depending on expression – voice raised at the end for question mark (?), passion with exclamation point (!), or even a calm tone for period (.). This activity helps students realize that ending marks tell us how to read with expression. 
  4. Insert videos of Read Alouds into lessons for students to hear what fluent reading sounds like. Adults reading stories aloud help model expression, pace, and phrasing.
  5. Use Drag and Drop to create nursery rhyme, poem, or sentence puzzles for students to put back together and read. By breaking those rhymes apart into individual words and putting them back together again, kids see how words build into sentences and stories in a natural flow.

4. Vocabulary

Vocabulary instruction of the 21st century surpasses the days when students broke out dictionaries in class, searching through pages and transcribing definitions onto paper. At the time, that’s all classrooms really had at their disposal. Using Nearpod and it’s selection of activities, teachers build lessons that make words have more personal relevance. Students interact with content to make deeper connections for richer vocabularies. Try a few of these activities to give a boost to student vocabulary:

  1. Use Matching Pairs to talk about ELA vocabulary.
  2. A lot of ELA vocabulary like explain, analyze, predict, summarize/compare & contrast etc are Tier 2 vocab terms that cross curriculum. ELA is a good time to really learn and address these terms. Tier 2 vocabulary is high-frequency vocabulary on standardized tests. 
  3. Use Fill In the Blank activity to build context clues awareness
  4. Use Collaboration Board to create a “Graffiti Wall.” Post words in question section and have kids add sticky notes to illustrate the term (they can use words or pictures)
  5. Use Draw It to make vocabulary sketchnotes. Students can sketch instead of writing out definitions. Ask students to draw a sketch summarizing each word. It’s a lot more engaging and gives kids a picture for visual association and to help remember the meanings.
  6. Try Flipgrid. It’s great for vocabulary activities! Have kids record a quick video for each word, using their creativity to make it fun and meaningful.

5. Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension all boils down to processing texts and  making meaning, all while integrating these skills into what the reader already knows. Comprehension is no small feet. Students need to read, re-read, mark up, and work with texts. They need practice answering literal and figurative questions, inferring, drawing conclusions, and note taking. They can do all of these things using Nearpod. 

  1. Pull in the text(s) you are reading and work on the overall comprehension skill – bring questions in from core curriculum to practice
  2. Use venn diagrams and other activity banks templates
  3. Use Open Ended Questions to develop their ideas and understanding of a text and practice writing or speaking independently.  Responses can be typed or voice recorded.
  4. Use a Collaborate Board to share their understanding and compare/contrast their findings to their peers’, or build off ideas that their peers share
  5. Use a Draw It to have students explain their understanding of the text
  6. Embed a PDF using the PDF Viewer to model fluent reading and to have students practice close reading.
  7. Time to Climb with comprehension questions tied to stories students read to create friendly competition tied to literal comprehension and inferring skills

6. Grammar

Grammar is fun. Get students amped up about parts of speech and punctuation by making grammar interactive, colorful, and even humorous.  These lessons are suitable for all age ranges and multiple levels. What’s also fantastic is students working with texts to help them discover voice and craft within writing. Grammar lessons listed will hopefully spark inspiration within the writing of students inside the classroom. 

  1. Draw It is a great way for students to practice their grammar revision skills. They can do a sentence or paragraph of the day and fix errors.
  2. Draw It can also be used as a “Search and Find”. Find articles or stories to upload, and then challenge students to find specific grammatical examples such as prepositional phrases, adverbs, past tense verbs either regular or irregular. 
  3. Use Draw It for the tried and true sentence diagramming. Students get a sentence and have to pictorially represent its grammatical structure. For younger students, have them color sentences by parts of speech. Coloring is proven to be calming while having them put their skills into practice. 
  4. Use Drag and Drop for conjunctions. Give students phrases and conjunctions to create their own compound sentences. Create parts of speech sorts using Drag and Drop.
  5. Use Fill in the Blanks to create a mad lib like activity with parts of speech. 
  6. Use Matching Pairs to match words with part of speech, etc.

Make a Collaborate Board about “Why Spelling Matters.” Have students find funny or surprising pictures of misspellings, omitted punctuation, or other grammar errors from real life or the internet.

Teaching reading and writing is fun and exciting. There are so many lessons that can be made in Nearpod for not only all reading strands but also writing. Once you get the hang of Nearpod’s platform, your library will be full of interactive and engaging ELA lessons. Hopefully this list will propel you in the right direction.

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