Teacher Review for Actively Learn

Actively Learn is really good at some things, but is hindered by copyright laws.

Silas B.
Classroom teacher
Chatham Charter School
Siler City, United States
Show More
My Subjects English Language Arts, Arts
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time More than 15 minutes
Great for Individual
Knowledge gain
Student-driven work
Great with Advanced learners
Low literacy
How I Use It
I have my students use it to read short stories. Many of the good ones are old and in the public domain already, so I can do almost anything I want. They don't require the time commitment of a novel, so my students aren't strained by reading for 20 or 30 minutes. The questions are a great way to warm their brains up for the deeper discussions that come later.
My Take
When I first found Actively Learn, I was very excited about it. The ability to drop questions into a text is huge. The fact that many texts already have common core aligned questions for use is also a big deal. I found that in my role as an English teacher, it worked really well for teaching short stories. They have a decent selection, and short stories don't require very much time. That said, there are two major issues that keep me from using it as the only way my students read. First, the texts that are usable with the site are fairly limited. You can submit other texts for addition, but only things that are already in the public domain. I get that copyright laws exist, but it can be awkward to adjust your entire course to be taught around only free texts - for one thing, it severely limits your ability to do anything modern with your students. This isn't their fault; books cost money, and I get that. Unfortunately, it does hinder the site's capabilities. The second problem is that computer screens are not particularly conducive to long-term reading. My students have mentioned that even with the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes of looking at a screen look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds), they prefer reading from books because their eyes feel much fresher when they get done. Again, not really something that can be fixed.