In a previous post, we learned how Matthew Winkler, an English teacher at South Kent School, was using educational technologies to the advantage of his students and his teaching. Mr. Winkler was kind enough to speak with us again—this time about his experience using Subtext, the eReader app of choice in his classroom. (Psst…if you missed our introductory post about Subtext, you can check it out here)
Though Winkler has only been using Subtext in his classroom for about six months, he says he already prefers it over other eReader apps he’s tried in the past. It allows for reader interaction within the text, he says. For students, Winkler believes this makes a world of difference. “It's a lot more fun for students to read an assigned chapter when their friends' commentary is posted in the margins, right alongside my guided reading questions,” he says.
Plus, that element of interactive “fun” is second nature to students these days, Winkler points out. Since they’re already so accustomed to Facebooking, Twittering and Instagramming their thoughts, sharing commentary during their reading experience only seems natural. “Students today are used to sharing their thoughts with peers, and Subtext channels that impulse into a guided, academic format,” Winkler says.
That’s not to say the app is all fun and games, though. There are also strong incentives for accountability. For instance, students who might be tempted to answer their homework questions without opening the books are out of luck with Subtext—considering their homework questions are within the book. They also can’t skim through pages without their teachers taking notice. As Winkler explains, “They know that my Subtext teacher's dashboard displays the minutes-per-page for each user. These features ensure reluctant students do their homework.”
Still, despite these accountability features, Winkler says his students generally like using Subtext. “Reading about the Middle Ages gets even more interesting when there's an embedded video of Full Metal Jousting's biggest hits,” he says, giving just one example of how Subtext features can make course material more accessible.
If you’re a teacher who uses Subtext, we’d love to hear about your favorite features. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Or, if your school is interested in joining the eBook revolution, feel free to contact us and learn more about your options.