We all have had students in our classroom who dislike reading. You can spot them easily during their silent reading time: staring at the wall, using the bathroom, or attempting to sharpen pencils that clearly do not need sharpening. Sadly, the number seems to jump year after year. You attempt to cajole, differentiate, and bring in parents knowing that the only way to improve reading is to read.

Don’t give up hope! You can get these students reading, but it is time to get creative, smart—and yes, sneaky—about it. Sometimes, using something many students like (technology) can get them inspired to read.

1. Use a digital timer. Sustained silent reading time can feel like “forever” for a reluctant reader. To keep attention from wandering and to build up stamina, use a highly visible digital timer. It can be as simple as one built into an iPad (if you teach in a 1:1 environment) or a free one online projected onto an interactive whiteboard. The point is that students know the expectation and the timer helps keep them focused and reading until the expectation is met.

2. Create challenges and badges. Promoting reading with easy badges that students can earn is a powerful motivator. Create a series of digital badges, some of which are easy to achieve and some of which are slightly harder, that students can apply for by showing evidence of learning or completing a performance task. Free sites like Classflow and Edmodo offer easy-to-make digital badges that get linked to students’ accounts.

3. Promote multimedia books. Introduce books that have a multimedia component where the focus isn’t just on reading. A good author for these types of books is Patrick Carmen. His Skelton Creek and 3:15 series have readers going to internet sites to watch videos throughout key parts of the stories.

(Next page: Reading with technology tips 4-7)