Read like you mean it with 'Dog Ears'

Posted by Matt Farmer on August 19, 2018

Throughout my coding journey, I have had an eye on how these new skills can be leveraged in the service of education. From educational tools, to productivity tools aimed at educators, I feel I have a unique handle on what students and teachers need to be more effective and to create deeper learning experiences. Perhaps the most critical skill in all of education is that of reading. Nearly all educational and professional endeavors require reading, and reading for understanding.

By tht time students get to high school, they have usually formed deep opinions about reading. Teachers constantly trying to change either the amount that kids read or the type of books/literature they read. One interesting strategy I have seen is the use of reading logs. This strategy is interesting in that is quite polarizing: teachers tend to love them or hate them.

I have been fortunate enough to work with numerous talented educators who are torn about how best to use these Reading logs for learning. On one hand, students are encouraged to read and monitor their progres in object quantitative terms. It’s easy to measure, easy to implement. On the other hand, they also encourage surface-level interaction with literature, reward quantity over quality, and encourage students to cheat all to often.

I created Dog Ears in the interest of trying to maximize the benefits of reading logs without the drawbacks. The idea is to maximize the motivational aspects of the reading log and provide some novelty to encourage students to continue reading. But more improtantly, I intend to build in fucntionality that encourages depth in student reading. For example, when students log their reading time right now, they simply need to input minutes and pages. However, the next feature that will be added is a simple 5-point rating that indicates how the student feels at the moment of logging. I also want to allow brief, tweet-like comments that allow the student to quickly summarize what they’ve read and what questions they have as they go along. It is my hope that after they are encouraged to read by the program, they’ll see certain patterns. For example, maybe they don’t tend to like a book until they are halfway through it (a common experience among readers of all levels!)

By providing a way to quickly and easily document, not only student time spent reading, but also lessons learned in doing so, I hope to encourage deeper learning for students who use this app. I am extremely excited about the possibilities of this app in further development and look forward to writing more about the technical aspects and lessons leanred in the near future.