4 top tips to help you encourage teens to read

Donatella Fitzgerald
Donatella Fitzgerald
A girl sat surroudned by bookshelves, she is leaning on one and reading a book

Two big questions about reading

Children who engage with reading are three times more likely to have high levels of mental well-being than those who do not - (National Literacy Trust).

There are two big questions we need to consider to help our students succeed in today’s school environment and to improve their general well-being.

Research points in one direction: that is reading for pleasure! Here are four tips to help your students read more - and enjoy it.

Tip 1: Give them a choice of great graded reader

Reading can help students escape into new worlds and switch off from the day, helping them cope with stress and worry. The outcomes of reading will occur more often and more strongly if reading is enjoyable in the first instance.

The benefits of reading are more likely to be felt when reading takes place through free choice. Give your students a wide selection of graded readers of different genres and at the right level. Ask them what genres they know and then do a class survey to find out which they like reading most.

Pearson English Graded Readers offer teenagers a large range of genres at all levels. The series offers world-renowned stories – fiction, non-fiction, biographies, cinematic readers, plays, short stories and classics – rewritten for English learners.

Tip 2: Involve the students in a collaborative group activity

A reading circle is a strategy where the teacher puts students into groups to read a whole book or one or more chapters. At the end of the project, each group creates a presentation to deliver to the class. Reading circles reinforce listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in a supportive and collaborative environment.

What’s more, they encourage students to deepen their understanding of a chosen text, as students are encouraged to talk about the book they are reading with their classmates. They discuss plots, the specific language used, and personal experiences, think about the characters and make connections to the outside world and citizenship.

Students work collaboratively and think about and discuss what they have read. At the same time, they are guided towards deeper comprehension and are encouraged through active learning to take an interest in other students’ ideas.

This type of collaborative project works perfectly in a face-to-face or remote teaching situation. It can be a way of nudging reluctant readers to read. You can help your students deepen discussions about books, create lifelong readers and build a respectful classroom community.

How to lead a reading circle

Create your reading circles by forming groups of four to seven students. Learners should be at the same reading level and also have similar interests, where possible.

The objective of each circle is to read the book and prepare a presentation to share with the whole class. Each group decides collaboratively which reader they would like to read together; however, ask each group to read a different book so you have a variety of presentations.

Reading circles should be fully student led. Students are empowered and supported by their peers as they all have a specific and important role to play. Through the project and preparing the digital responses students learn digital skills and improve their digital literacy and critical thinking.

Suggested reading circle roles:

  • Slides Wizard: Creates the slides for the presentation
  • Presentation Wizard: Helps with the presentation to the class
  • Artistic Wizard: Looks at the illustrations in the book (this could be good for students with dyslexia)
  • Film Wizard: Finds information about the film version if there is one
  • Word Wizard: Finds new or keywords
  • Summary Wizard: Writes/creates a summary/visual summary of the plot
  • Sentence Wizard: Finds important quotations, and sentences in the book
  • Character Wizard: List/description of characters
  • Places in the book Wizard: Finding out about symbolic locations in the book

Students can present their reading circles project in several different ways. For example:

  • A PowerPoint presentation
  • A poster
  • A video
  • A Padlet (interactive notice board where they can post comments, files, pictures and audio and video recordings).

While students are watching the presentations, they should give feedback to the groups presenting using a feedback form, giving praise and suggesting areas of improvement.

Tip 3: Introduce your students to a class library

Introduce a class library and engage students in reading during class time or outside the classroom. If you don’t have much space for physical books, eLibraries can also ensure students can read the books remotely and read the same book at the same time! As with the printed versions, there are readers for teenage and adult students who want to supplement standard English course materials and build their English competence.

At the end of the year, students can organize a reading festival (either face-to-face or virtually) where they showcase their responses to reading e.g. videos, posters, lap books, dances…anything they like!

Tip 4: Help struggling readers build their confidence

Offering students a choice of readers at the right or slightly below their level can help boost their confidence. Ideally, guide them towards short stories so they can finish them.

Audiobooks can be an alternative to reading a book for a student with dyslexia (and other SEN students). They can have the same experience and many of the same benefits from listening to the story in English.

If they are reading it is important to scaffold their reading with pre-reading activities as they provide the necessary support before the reading starts and activate their background knowledge. It is also important to pre-teach vocabulary items and encourage them to predict what will happen in the story. Pair students up with a reading buddy so the student with dyslexia has another student who can help them.

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    You may have heard the term learning management system (LMS) at work or perhaps during your time in education. For many, this throws out images of clunky, outdated systems that clumsily distribute course materials and are tough to use. But that is no longer the case. Modern LMS's are far more user-friendly, and it's time to relearn what you thought you knew about these tools. 

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    What is a learning management system?

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    The idea is that these LMS platforms offer one central place for users to manage and access courses and learning materials. Depending on the user, this could be anything from self-paced e-courses to classroom training. 

    This can help facilitate a range of training, studying and skills development, as well as assessments, exams and certification management. 

    Who uses LMS's and why? 

    There are many great uses for learning management systems but these are used primarily by businesses and educational establishments. Here are some of the most common use cases for these platforms: 

    • HR and management - The HR and management team might implement these across the business to help with learning and development and make sure that organizational goals are being hit

    • Employee onboarding - Those starting a new job may be given training via an LMS; this can make the onboarding process much quicker and simpler 

    • Compliance training - Lots of roles require compliance training, for example health and safety training, and this is a great way for businesses to stay up to date and ensure everyone complies with regulations 

    • Customer support - Some businesses use learning management systems to onboard customers or clients. This might include sharing user manuals and product guides. Plus, sales professionals might also use them to train new partners or clients in using their services or platforms. 

    • Classroom learning - Lecturers and teachers can create and share course materials and align content and tests from one place. These can also be used to put a twist on traditional classroom learning. 

    • Blended learning - Schools, colleges and universities may use these for online lessons and blended learning, particularly for remote students 

    • Volunteer training - Charities and non-profits may also use an LMS to educate volunteers and keep them motivated about the cause 

    Of course, these platforms can and will be used in other ways, but these are some of the most common and beneficial uses for LMS's. 

    Who has access to LMS's?

    In most cases, learning management systems will have two primary user groups: administrators and learners.  

    Administrators are the people who create, manage and deliver e-learning. They may use these platforms to upload their own learning materials, or they may select courses and materials from an existing list given by the provider.

    On the other hand, learners are the professionals or students who will use these platforms to train, study and gain new skills. Many modern LMS's allow multiple learners to train or access materials at the same time.

    However, there is a third and final group that we have yet to mention: the parents of students using LMS's, particularly outside of school hours. In some cases, parents may have access to these systems to support students, track their progress or look at feedback from the teacher. 

    Key features in modern LMS's

    There are a variety of learning management systems out there and some are more advanced than others. That being said, many modern platforms will share similar features to ensure they stay competitive. Some of these key features may include: 

    • Authoring tools that allow administrators to upload or build their own courses

    • Access to subject matter experts who can contribute to learning and development activities 

    • Automated workflows that allow for the creation of personalized learning journeys

    • A resources library that holds all relevant learning materials, such as guides, video clips and courses

    • Quizzes and surveys for a more fun and engaging way to assess learners 

    • Compliance features, such as automatic reminders that notify learners when it is time to retrain 

    • Certificates and diplomas that give learners recognition as they study and meet their targets 

    • Insights and analysis for individual progress and results, allowing administrators to identify gaps or areas where support is needed

    • Compatibility with mobile devices for studying on the go 

    • Integrations with other internal systems and software 

    This is by no means a complete list and different platforms will have different functionality. However, these are some of the most common and beneficial features of many modern LMSs.

    The benefits of using learning management systems

    Saving time and money

    First and foremost, an LMS can be an excellent way for businesses to save time and money on training. 

    Of course there is an initial investment in the platform, but training can be expensive and time-consuming, particularly if it must take place in a location outside of the workplace. Therefore, this can be the more cost-effective solution. Not to mention, the materials are quick to access and can save time and effort. 

    Ensuring compliance training is completed

    These platforms are an excellent way to ensure that all mandatory training is completed on time and to the highest standard. For example, industry-specific training such as fire safety or cybersecurity training. 

    Provide accurate data

    Administrators can access data and insights into their employee's learning. This can be a great way to see where more support is needed and to identify any skills gaps that need to be filled. Similarly, teachers can get to grips with how well their students are doing and if they need extra help in any subjects or areas.

    Improves the learning experience

    Whether in school or the workplace, LMS's can be a great way to improve the learning process. It allows users to study and access learning materials from one accessible location. Plus, through a multimedia approach, they can use guides, videos and more to help them learn. This can ensure they engage with the materials and stay motivated. 

    Simplifying communication

    Finally, an LMS can make communication between students, teachers, employees and employers far simpler. For example, automated reminders keep everyone in the loop and ensure all training is completed on time. But more than that, there is one central place to communicate, review feedback and access the same materials.