My Students’ Top Ten “Essential Digital Reading Tools” by Sara Kajder - Original blog post

How we can accomplish the same learning task with tools we are already using

Click icon for link to that tool.

Tool and what it does

SAS alternative tool

Idea: Record observations and thinking about a book you are studying. Lets students express themselves verbally.

Create embeddable slideshow and add narration.

Free version has length limit and has watermark.


Google Presentation for slides. If you want students to narrate their slides, use Quicktime and do a screen recording. Then upload to YouTube.

Idea: Have an online discussion that is video based.

Online discussion tool. Students reply to teacher questions with video.

21 day demo, but then you have to pay for a teacher license.


Share a Google Doc with students and put your discussion question at top. Students can respond by recording a video straight into YouTube. They can then share their video URL in the Google Doc so everyone can see other responses. (Or start the conversation in a blogpost and students can post video URLs as responses.)

Idea: Analyze a text and what words are emphasized.

Input text and get a graphic that shows which words are emphasized in that text.

I like the idea of using Wordle to analyze a text before or after students read it. If you are studying a book in the public domain, you can easily get a digital copy of the book at Project Gutenberg. (This idea won’t work for newer books.)

See below for an example using Little Women. (Warning: You may have java issues if you try to use Wordle. I used Safari to make it work.)

Idea: Keep an audio journal. Track your thinking about the books you are studying. Share with people.

Let’s you record audio on your iPhone.

or   or  

Use Garageband or Quicktime on the Macbook to record audio. If you want to share with others, record straight to YouTube instead.

Idea: Narrate photos to keep track of learning.

Narrate slides and allows for people to respond with text, audio or video.

   & &  

Use Quicktime and do a narrated screen recording of anything (photos, slides, text) and upload to YouTube. Embed in Blogger and people can respond in the comment area.

Idea: Collect notes about what you are reading.

Create notes and lists that can be synced across devices.

Use Google Drive. Google Docs can sync across multiple devices as well with the Google Drive app.

Idea: Blog about books.

We are already doing this!

Idea: Create ‘shelfies’. Have students take photos of favorite books on their bookshelves at home or in the library.

Online photo sharing tool.

Our students aren’t old enough to use Instagram. Do the same task and have students post to their SAS blogs.

Idea: Keep track of reading.

Online bookshelf. Can embed bookshelves in blog or website.

We are already doing this!

Idea: Post video questions.

Online video sharing tool.

Our students aren’t old enough to use Vine. But they can do the same thing by recording questions directly in YouTube and sharing on a Google Doc or on Blogger.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott