Thursday, March 9, 2017

4 Reading Month Activities

4 Reading Month Activities | John R. Sowash

March is reading month! Reading and writing are foundational skills; There is nothing more important. However, in this age of constant access to multimedia, motivating students to read can be difficult. Here are 4 ideas for encouraging your students to read. 

Note: If you were a subscriber to my email list, you would have received these four ideas in your inbox! Each month I send out an email with recent EdTech updates and an original article focused on using technology in the classroom. Subscribe below!

3 Act Story Challenge


After your students have finished a book, give them an index card. On one side, have them write the title and author of the book along with 3 key moments (a very simple outline). No more than 3!

Note: you can skip the writing part for younger students.

On the back, ask the student to draw a simple 3-act story. You can also use this template.

When finished, hang the picture card in the classroom so only the pictures are visible. Provide small, colorful sticky notes nearby and allow other students in the class to guess the title by writing it on a sticky note and putting it on/near the drawing.

3 Act Story

Note: the 3 Act story challenge is a well established genre. This idea could be expanded into a full lesson to teach elements of plot and story structure.

eBooks with a Soundtrack


Looking for an immersive reading experience? Check out the free eBooks from BookTrack Classroom! This free classroom service enhances written text with sound effects and background music to set the mood. Check out The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe (tip: don't read it in the dark).

Booktrack Classroom
Not only can you read books using BookTrack Classroom, you can also create your own stories. Motivate your students to write by allowing them to enhance their written work with BookTrack Classroom. Copy / paste something you have written into BookTrack Classroom and add background music and sound effects to make your written work jump off the page.

BookTrack Classroom is integrated with Google Classroom which means it is easy to share student stories.

Note: There are two version of this tool, a commercial one and a classroom version. I recommend creating an account using BookTrack Classroom.

Live Reading Chart


Keep track of how many books and pages your class (or school) has read by taking advantage of the LIVE chart and graph feature of Google Sheets.
  1. Have students log their reading using a Google form (like this)
  2. The data that is collected feeds into a Google Sheet (like this)
  3. Create a chart that tracks pages and books read. (like this)
Embed the chart into a Document, Presentation, or Google Site and watch it grow!

Live reading chart | John R. Sowash

Interested in setting this up for your school? I did all of the hard work for your! Click here to make a copy of everything you need!


Note: due to limitations with the new Google Sites, you won't be able to make a copy of my site. Setting up your own will only take a few minutes.

Family Note: My wife challenged our 2 oldest kids (ages 8 & 6) to read 100 books. She calls it the "Donuts with Dad reading challenge."
What do you do with an idea? Video Book review

Video Book Reviews

If you don't have enough time to work on a written book report, have students record a short 30-60 second video book review. I recommend using Screencastify to quickly record a video and save it to Google Drive.

Generate a QR code that points to the video (instructions). Attach the QR code to the book. Students can use ScanQR, a free Chrome App, to scan QR codes and watch the student video.

I tested this out with my three oldest kids:

If you have other fun and effective ways to get students reading and writing I would love to hear about them! Send me an email or hit me up on Twitter!

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