The current semester is far from even half-way over and I am already planning next semester’s Advanced English Composition course, which is an academic writing course. Reading is an essential part of this course and lately I’ve been thinking about ways to get my students to read more, beyond the readings I assign them in class. As I have written about before, Flipboard is one of my favorite apps and I think the answer lies here. Flipboard is an easy to use and visually appealing way to read news, publications, blogs, and social media. You can subscribe to any number of “magazines”, news sites, and blog feeds. What’s more, you can also (collaboratively) create your own magazines, which can then be subscribed to by anyone. So, here are some of the ideas I am currently kicking around in my head:
Get Students on Flipboard
The first thing students need to do is download the app, which is available on iOS, Android, and the web. Students may be reluctant downloading another app, especially if they already have a news reader or RSS reader. Here, it’s best to espouse the two main benefits of Flipboard: 1) it’s visually appealing; and 2) it can be used as a one-stop app because it can read news sites, other Flipboard magazines, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.
Get Students Reading
If you want to use Flipboard to promote extensive reading, students need things to read. Do some research beforehand and find relevant magazines or websites you can recommend to students. For example, for general English reading, basic Flipboard magazines include “News,” “Technology,” or any of these top viewed magazines (and here). Good websites to subscribe to would be The Atlantic, PopSci, National Geographic and The Oatmeal. If you want more of a language focus, websites like Grammar Girl, the MacMillan Dictionary Blog, or English with a Twist could be useful. I would also encourage students to explore some resources in their first language, which could ensure that they keep returning to the app. Another idea is to create a course magazine and add any articles you want students to read (this is called “flipping”). Adding articles can easily be done on your smartphone or even on the web.
Bonus: This is also your opportunity to shamelessly plug yourself: get students to add your blog, your students-only Facebook account, your students-only Twitter feed, etc.
Get Students Creating
Another idea is to get students to create their own magazine in which they can flip articles they are reading, want to read, or have already read. This could also be useful if they are collecting articles for a project or research paper.
Get Students Sharing
One of the great things about Flipboard is its social nature. Students can share their magazines with other students, which increases what is being read and lets students see what other students have been reading about. Students can also create a magazine together and add articles they find useful for any project work. Students could even contribute articles to the course magazine. And, make sure students share their magazines with you!
Get Students Writing
With all this reading students will be doing, maybe you should think about getting students to write about what they read. They can keep reading journals, or you can set specific tasks to analyze the texts they are reading for genre conventions, language features, etc. You can take this one step further and even have students make a corpus of their magazine’s articles (using AntConc) for further language investigations.
Can you think of any other ways to use Flipboard in the classroom? Start a discussion in the comments!