Some books are meant to be read out loud.
The work of Theodor Seuss Geisel, known to millions of readers as Dr. Seuss, is a perfect example. The author's rhymes ring and sing when they're read aloud; his words boast the cadence and catchiness of an infectious song.
Joel Solomon, technology teacher at Village East Elementary School, saw a unique kind of potential in those rhymes. In a project that fused technology, creativity and literacy, Solomon drew on the power of Dr. Seuss' words to inspire students to read, speak and create.
For the school's annual Read Across America Day celebration, Solomon challenged his students to take literacy to a higher level. Solomon assigned excerpts from Dr. Seuss books and students used recording and drawing computer applications to add their own spin on the text. With the drawing app Pixie, students created an illustration to go along with the quotes; they also used the Voice Thread program to record themselves reading the words aloud.
According to Solomon, the addition of imagery and voice brought the text to life for the students, many of whom weren't used to hearing their own voices. What's more, the Voice Thread program allowed Solomon to upload all of the students' projects to the school website (you can find the clips here).
"Fluency was really my goal, along with 21st-century skills and creativity," Solomon said. "A lot of these kids have never read out loud and heard themselves reading for the first time … Every kid's face would light up when they heard themselves read, and they wanted other kids to listen to them."
Students read lines like, "Kid, you'll move mountains!" and "A person's a person, no matter how small," with confidence and enthusiasm. Their illustrations combined photographs, original drawings and stock art in a single frame. The activity gave Village East students a multi-faceted and engaging path to literacy and fluency, which is all the more valuable at a diverse school that boasts a high number of English language learners.
Solomon also wanted to use the Dr. Seuss quotes as a bridge to 21st-century skills. Students used headsets and digital recording and drafting technology; they integrated communication skills and critical thinking in a project rooted in books that were written decades ago. These are early steps toward important Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fluency, and the project also incorporated plenty of creativity.
"I talk about those skills all the time with kids – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity," Solomon said. "They get to make their own pictures and they have more ownership of what they're creating because they're doing it from scratch."