When I first started teaching about six years ago, one of the biggest mistakes I made was believing that reading comprehension did not consist of much more than reading texts and then answering follow-up questions. Then, everything changed when I read Mosaic of Thought by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann, followed by Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis. Now, all of my reading comprehension instruction is encompassed by the essential question, “How can I understand while I am reading?” In other words, it is what great readers do while they are reading that makes them great. This teaching relies heavily on student metacognition and the explicit strategies of monitoring comprehension, activating and connecting to background knowledge, questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance in text, and summarizing and synthesizing information. (It is also my firm belief that students should be consistently using these strategies from first grade through high school.)
I am always looking for unique ways to leverage different technologies in order to teach these explicit strategies, and to help in deepening student understanding of what they read. A few weeks ago, I decided to use the augmented reality iOS app, colAR Mix, to teach the strategy of visualizing through a writing workshop. ColAR Mix is an app that literally brings drawings to life! Through the app’s official website, the user can print out coloring pages. Then, when the app’s camera is focused on the printed page, the drawing pops out of the page and animates. It is really one of those things that has to be seen to be believed.