Authentic Reading Activities

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

These activities will encourage your middle or high school students to engage with texts in a new way. In these exercises, students tackle a variety of text types, read with purpose, and share their learning with an authentic audience.

Authentic Reading Activities

In these partner and team activities, students are provided a purpose to read an authentic text. When they are given the ''why'' of learning, students are much more likely to engage with and retain the information they learn.

Virtual Field Trip

Virtual field trips are available online for many different locations are free and easy to use. Using Google Earth or Google Expeditions to explore interesting places around the world is a great way to engage students.

To prepare for one of these field trips, students should complete some assigned reading selections. Provide them with reading material that gives insight into the history of the location you've selected. Students will read with purpose if they know they'll be using the knowledge soon to engage in a virtual field trip.

After the reading is completed, have students work in groups to record a list of questions for further study. Draw a line down the middle of poster paper or whiteboard at the front of the room. Label one column ''Facts'' and one column ''Questions''. Gather a few facts and questions from each team to add to the class list.

Then, take your field trip! As you travel on your adventure, have students be on the lookout for the facts they already learned, as well as answers to their additional questions. After the trip, have student teams create a poster with at least three facts they learned along the way. If anything is left unanswered at the end of the trip, have students do for further research.

  • Materials: internet access, reading material about virtual field trip location, poster paper, markers

The Fixer Upper

Learning to read technical texts is an essential part of life, but students must have a purpose for doing so. Although it can be a challenge, providing them with a goal makes them more likely to power through the struggle. To begin, provide students with this general scenario: ''You've just purchased your first home, and it is a fixer-upper. You have several projects that you must undertake but no experience in construction. Some projects must be left to the experts, but others are do-it-yourself.''

Break students into teams. Provide teams with a detailed list of home improvement projects and ask that they categorize them into two categories: ''Professional'' or ''DIY''. Once students have sorted the projects, have each team select one DIY option to explore further. Provide students with a few quick links to instructional text that shows how to complete the DIY projects. WikiHow is a great example of a site that combines text with visuals to improve both understanding and application of content.

Based on their research, students can then write down a list of materials and tasks, as well as a timeline for completion. Join teams together to walk each other through the process of making their DIY dream a reality.

  • Materials: List of home improvement projects (cut into strips for sorting), internet access, DIY project websites, notebook paper, writing utensil

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