Lesson Planning Ideas for eTexts

The following suggestions were compiled by participants in the 2019 workshop “Bringing eTexts to Life”. These suggestions were organized into Pre-ReadingRe-Reading and Review strategies.

Pre-Reading Ideas

Encourage pre-reading by building some of the following activities into class. 

Model Using the eText

Many students may be brand new to studying with an eText, particularly if they are new international students. eText programs typically start with first year cohorts, and students are acclimatizing all at once to school, eConestoga and their eText.

Model the use of the features in the eText frequently. Show how to use highlighting, add notes, and navigate through the table of contents. Patient modeled use of the features will support learners in adopting their use.

Work with Key Terms

Conduct a collaborative group brainstorm, or do a word cloud using a polling app, to collect new vocabulary for a unit. Model the use of the read-aloud features to support students in listening to the pronunciation of these terms. Allow students to use translation tools in Microsoft Word or online to understand the new key terms more deeply.

File:MindMapGuidlines.svg
Mind Map Guidelines” by Nicoguaro on Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved October 23rd, 2019.

Enhance the concept map of the terms by asking students to group related terms. Connect these terms to previously learned concepts. Learners can use the search to find instances of the terms in their text to find out what units are connected by common language and terminology. Refer to the concept map throughout the unit or semester, as a bridge and to activate students’ prior learning. 

Create small team activities to more deeply define key terms that are lesser known or more complex. Ask groups to share their definitions, explanations and examples with the class. Pose questions to the audience such as:

“Consider the similarities or differences between your own definition, and the one shared by this group. What do you notice?”

Set Out a Purpose for Reading

KWL Chart. Click to download a template.

Metacognitive reading strategies control how learners interact with written content, and add depth to digital reading experiences. These include setting a purpose for reading, and determining quickly whether this particular passage meets that purpose. Use a KWL Chart to have learners set out what they already Know before reading, and what they Want to Know but the end of it. Once they’re done reading, they fill out what they have Learned.

Re-Reading Ideas

Reading an eText often relies on skimming and scanning. To learn more about digital reading behaviour, read our tip on how we read digital texts

To encourage learners to read deeply and complexly, create tasks that require re-reading in class. Some examples might include: 

Collaborative Reading 

“The Jigsaw Method” by Cult of Pedagogy, 2015. Retrieved Sept 10th, 2019.  

Before the lesson, choose 3 to 4 selections of the textbook with particularly high learning value. Form learners into mixed groups of 3 to 4 students, and each student in a group should choose one of the selections, re-reading it quietly to themselves. Then, ask students to convene a group with other students who read the same article as they did – this is the expert group. Provide some guiding questions for the expert group to discuss about the reading selection. Finally, they return to their original group, and report a summary of the reading selection, and share the expert groups’ key learning or discussion points. This is a variation of a Jigsaw method. 

A QQC Journal

A Quote, Question and Comment Journal is a running log of a learner’s reading. It requires them to pose a Question they have about the reading, extract a Quote, and write a Comment (~100 words), attempting to answer the question. It involves an active accounting of reading tasks, and some reflection and consideration of a reading. Allocate time at the beginning of each class for learners to compare their QQC journals, using their questions to discuss the reading.

QQC Journal. Click to get a downloadable copy.

Adapt this template to suit your own teaching context, perhaps adding columns for pronunciation guides or other learning supports.

Compare Reading Habits

T Chart template. Click image to get a downloadable copy.

Create a paired activity so learners can share ideas on effective highlighting and study strategies. Ask students to compare their own study habits with a partner. They can share their highlighted chapters to their partner. Ask them to compare strategies for annotating and searching within the text. As pairs, students can create a T-chart comparing efficient strategies (like selective highlighting, using notes to pose questions, copying and pasting highlights into a document, then summarizing them) to inefficient strategies (like highlighting too much, using too many or too few notes).

Discussion Board Postings 

Use discussion boards in the online course or Microsoft Teams as a supplement to in-class discussion opportunities. Support learners learning how to post to discussion boards, as many learners, especially international, may have never used one before.

Discussion threads might discuss: 

  • a list of terms that were unfamiliar before reading, with an explanation of these derived from their reading; 
  • questions they have before the reading, and some responses to other learners’ questions;
  • three key concepts from each unit, and why they matter, with links to the pages they appear on; 
  • a paragraph that summarizes their highlights, notes, or key takeaways; 
  • debates on the value/nature/relevance of some topics, as appropriate;
  • reflects on how their study habits have advanced, through adopting new reading habits.

Post comments and responses to their posts, engaging learners in active discussion about the concepts in their readings.

Review Ideas

Group Glossary 

Have groups of students locate definitions for key terms within the text and pull them together into a collaborative doc, making a working glossary. This could be assigned by chapter, by section, or as a cumulative review. 

Ongoing Chapter Summaries

After reading a chapter, have students copy and paste their notes and highlights into a Word document, and actively and purposefully summarize the chapter. The summary should include little to no replication from the text, except key terms. Have them post their summaries to a discussion board, and continue to add to the same document throughout the course.  At the end of the course, they will have an effective study and review document. This would be in place of a QQC journal. 


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  • Published: October 15, 2019
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Jess Wilkinson

Jesslyn is the Educational Technology Officer at Conestoga. An Ontario Certified Teacher, and holding a B.A. and B.Ed., Jesslyn researches and promotes new technologies for faculty to enhance pedagogical practices. She brings to the role her experience as a Google and Microsoft certified technology trainer and as a classroom teacher in South Korea, Mongolia, and Ontario, focusing on special education and assistive learning technologies. She is available for workshops, consultations, and support with using technology in higher education contexts.

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