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English teachers work hard to create literature circles where each student has a role; they do this to provide the structures and support for students to become proficient at academic discussions surrounding texts. While literature circles are still a valid way to extend thinking, discussion, and study of a text, Kudos Reading offers an online twist by facilitating these discussions over the web. Use Kudos Reading as an extension to any assigned literature in class to obtain visible evidence of learning and discussion that just wouldn't be possible or true of a classroom group discussion. The feedback the teacher can offer will be more descriptive and useful to students.
Teachers will want to model what a proficient discussion looks like to build valuable digital citizenship skills alongside reading skills. To do so, make sure to add engaging discussion questions -- the paid version includes premade questions -- for club members to answer alongside their reading, and, if you want, add tricky vocabulary that students might struggle with throughout the text. Once responses come in, teachers (and students) can comment to model constructive feedback. Teachers may also want to grade students' responses using the built-in feature, but based on a rubric teachers create since there aren't any rubrics included. While Kudos Reading isn't meant to replace classroom conversations, once teachers have modeled and practiced in the classroom, it can be a great place to gradually release that responsibility to students.
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Kudos Reading is a social reading platform for classrooms, kind of like Goodreads, but private to a group of students and a teacher. There are books for almost every English teacher, whether you are a first grade teacher or a teacher of seniors in high school; however, the site's design definitely skews younger. Book Clubs are Kudos Reading's term for groups of students who are all reading and discussing the same book. These clubs can be customized with teacher-created discussion questions. There's also a bank of premade questions available with a subscription. After students respond to questions, teachers and students can comment on the responses and vote them up as with social media posts. Students can browse books, rate them, add them to reading lists, and make book recommendations to classmates. These social aspects of the platform make Kudos Reading a more authentic experience than some competitors.
To get started, teachers log in and then create an avatar (students do as well), and then they set up a class or Book Club. Click on the Books tab to browse books by genre, by grade level, or, after you've rated a number of books, by suggestion. Teachers then select a book, invite students (either manually from an existing class list or by signing kids up, or by providing students with a code), and create discussion questions or vocab lists. At any time, teachers can click on the Book Clubs tab to edit the club, participate in discussion with students, or give grades to discussions. If teachers have built a word list (words with their definitions), then teachers and students can use the Quest feature which auto-generates games -- word searches, unscrambles, crosswords, drawing, or word matches -- based on the teacher-created word list.
Students will love the freedom they have to discuss and carry on conversations with their group members, and the focus on social media-style discussion of the books can support passionate reading. If teachers take the time to create them, students will also appreciate the connected educational games that accompany each book. Teachers still have to do a fair amount of prep, however. Kudos Reading does not offer prep or tutorials that help students participate responsibly in online discussions, so this falls into the teacher's lap. There's also no built-in dictionary for generating word lists. While there are opportunities for grading discussions, it'd be helpful if Kudos Reading provided a variety of standards-aligned rubrics for assessing student discussions. Finally, while there is some content filtering (curse words as well as terms like "sex" are omitted), we did find inappropriate and mature books while using a student account. Students can only see the covers and synopses of these books, but finding them may still lead to some giggling or awkward conversation.
That said, when it comes to reading platforms, students need ways to use technology to support and advance their learning, not distract from it or sour the joy of reading with quizzes and canned texts. Kudos Reading, by focusing on social discussion and real books kids love, doesn't fall prey to these less-engaging aspects of online reading platforms.
Key Standards Supported
Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.
Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).
Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
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