Free Reading Tools for Primary Sources, Songs, and Just-in-Time Definitions


Too often both students and teachers overlook the tools that technology offers to assist in the active reading process. Online tools that streamline the challenging steps in close/active reading give teachers the opportunity to engage as coaches, helping students to explore the layers of meaning in a text. For instance, try Explore! Primary Sources, a collection of over 250 text and audio resources to engage students in active reading.

K-5 students can start with something familiar like a song or a poem. Songs are a great entry point for students to practice active reading in a challenging, yet fun, activity. Students can read and sing about a mule named Sal while exploring the geography and trade routes of the Erie Canal!

And if your student does not yet know what a primary source is, here’s a short video tutorial that explains all of that.

Using  free online tools will empower students to define unknown vocabulary, analyze documents, and begin constructing text-based arguments to debate the issues.

This JFK document -- including the audio recording -- is part of the Explore! Primary Sources repository.















Want to learn more?

If you are attending ISTE this year in Chicago, stop by our poster session, Free Reading Tools for Primary Sources, Songs, and Just-in-Time Definitions on Tuesday, June 26, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Central Daylight Time) at Table 35 35 in the Skyline Ballroom Pre-function area to learn more.

We'll do the following:

  • Explore online tools that support active reading.
  • Discover pedagogy that increases student engagement.
  • Practice techniques to encourage critical thinking for struggling readers.


About Author

Molly Farrow

Molly Farrow taught high school history for 11 years in Wake County and Durham County. She also taught at the Taipei American School in Taiwan. She received a M.A.T. degree from the University of North Carolina and a B.S. degree in Political Science from Wake Forest University. Outside work, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and their dog, Dante.

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