The site’s FAQ section offers multiple suggestions for planning, as well as for aligning instruction to the Common Core standards. There are suggestions on how to use Ponder for independent reading assignments, reading groups, and research projects.
With the feedback and data Ponder provides, you can better differentiate the reading materials you're assigning, both on Ponder as well as for in-class reading. Should you want to include your own reading materials on the site’s Reading List, you can add links and PDF files with the site's Create a Course Packet option. Also, if you’d prefer not to grant access to a certain Web source, you can disable links from a reading list.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: Ponder no longer exists as it was reviewed. The Ponder site currently says there's a new product of the same name in beta.
Ponder is an add-on tool for Web browsers that teachers can use to assign, and keep track of, students' reading on the Web. Students can also use the tool to create what Ponder calls "micro-reading responses." After signing up, teachers create a class profile where they can compile a Reading List and select Themes that students will read for throughout the course. Overall, the service is designed to make critical thinking and analytical reading easier for students -- and easier for teachers to assess.
Students join and begin their "micro-reading and response" experience: reading on the Web, selecting excerpts, and choosing both "Themes" and "Sentiments" that best match their thinking and analysis. Students can also add brief "elaborations" to add their own text and ideas on the clipping at hand. Students' posts become part of the Class Feed that all users can access and respond to. Both the class feed and a user's own personal feed are chock-full of data about each article, from the number of words to an article's total number of readers (on Ponder's service) to the time users have spent reading. Teachers can track their students' reading selections and the pace at which they've read.
To make the most of Ponder, teachers should view the service as a tool for the long game, not a quick fix. Teachers should spend time configuring the site to their liking: Adding to the Reading List and selecting Themes will pay off once students get in the habit of using it as the data pours in. Ponder tracks the number of words students read and the amount of time they spend reading, which can be amusing and rewarding to students, as well as instructive to teachers. The Sentiments and Themes that students choose are also collected, and this is especially helpful as the Sentiments act as prompts that offer three kinds of reaction to the text: comprehension-based, analytical, and emotional. Meanwhile, a new "elaboration" feature lets users enter their own text in addition to the Sentiments to further expand on their reactions.
Students will take to using the browser immediately, lured by “not needing to write anything” and by the intuitive, click-based navigation. However, this social reading tool might reward speedy, cursory reading over the kind of deep, thoughtful analysis that many teachers expect and require. Sustaining engagement will depend on teachers' consistency in using the data to augment their instruction, such as configuring Themes that encourage discussion, reflection, and application.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
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 central idea of a text and analyze 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.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
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 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 provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.