Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Science 2.0

Article excerpt

Did They Really Read It?

A challenge for most teachers is how to assess student understanding of an assigned reading or video on a particular topic. This is especially important in contemporary hybrid instruction strategies that emphasize blended, flipped, or personalized learning. These strategies, which can be used in either classwork or homework, are only effective if students actually do the assignment (while avoiding distractions and staying focused on the content). Fortunately, tech tools are available that reinforce student attention and help teachers assess student work done independently from a teacher's direct observation. These tools also provide data needed to differentiate learning paths for each student.


Enhancing reading comprehension

One such tool is Actively Learn (, available in both free and paid versions, which enhances student comprehension of assigned reading. It's particularly useful for readings done outside of class, helping teachers make sure students truly grasp essential content.

Actively Learn offers more than 3,000 free reading assignments across all major content areas, including over a thousand in science categories. The website's distinguishing feature is that throughout each reading, the teacher can embed questions to make sure students grasp the key concepts and to assess their level of comprehension of the passage. Instead of students making their way through an entire article only to realize at the end that they hardly remember anything they read, students get reinforcement along the way in the form of short-answer, multiple-choice, or poll-type questions. The questions can be aligned to nine science-reading standards integrated in the website, including analysis and evidence, following procedure, evaluation of claims, and comparison of information.

As soon as students begin completing the reading assignment, teachers can review in real time how well students comprehend the passage and will know whether students are ready to move on to the next reading or lesson. …

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