I have a reluctant reader at home. He enjoyed the same reading experiences as his older brother and twin sister, had reading and writing models at home and had access to plenty of books. But, as much as it pains me to admit it, he is still a reluctant reader. A reluctant reader that has taught his mother plenty of lessons on what it means to truly feel like a reader. I have reminded my son that books are like presents, just waiting to be opened. That books are patient and the right one is still waiting for him. That one day, books will help change his life, if he lets them. In my quest to open the door to a love of reading, I have found the power in using QR codes to make his reading experience interactive, involved and engaging and I imagine this can help other students find reading a more interactive and personal experience as well.
I am a great proponent of using technology and digital tools to connect readers together, share conversations about books and build a community of readers. My son has helped me reimagine how those same tools can make reading a more interactive and ‘real’ experience during reading as well. Enter QR (Quick Response) codes. I use QR codes for many instructional reasons: as listening stations, as writing celebrations, as methods for accessing resources quickly and even connecting and communicating with parents. But I had not yet tapped into the power of using QR codes to help bring a book to life. That is, until my son gave me the idea to do so.
When my son does read, he enjoys the I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis. He was getting ready to read his next book in the series, The Joplin Tornado, 2011. I asked if he would share his book with me so I could add a surprise to it. After reading the text myself, I gathered multimedia resources that I knew would enhance his understanding of the book and make the reading come alive. Here are the resources I collected:
Each resource was chosen to help him visualize the book in his mind, actually ‘see’ the events unfold and help him go above and beyond the book to connect to his own personal interests. I linked these resources to QR codes, taped them to sticky notes and then strategically placed them throughout the book for him to scan as he read.
His interest was real. We downloaded the QR scanner onto his device and he scanned the links as we came upon them in the book. He gained a clear understanding of where the book took place, truly understood the kind of devastation the characters were dealing with and became more engaged in his reading. When he asked to keep reading and if all books could come this way, I knew I was on to something.
Now, I know that I cannot add QR codes to every book he reads to increase engagement and understanding, but I can teach him how to seek out these multimedia resources on his own to support his own interests and strategic actions as a reader. Many adults read with a device nearby to look up locations, Google a concept they had not heard about or to simply see something in action. Why shouldn’t our students have the same luxury? We want students to know that books come alive in our head and in our heart simply by reading them, but by reading with a curious mind and technology by our side, we have the power to turn reading into and a more engaging and personalized experience.
Anyone want to join me for a collaborative venture? Send me the titles your reluctant readers are reading and I will create a text set linked to QR codes to support engagement and interaction with the book. Together, we can create and share these text sets to benefit other students and increase reading engagement!