Working with technology in the classroom has many benefits, but it can be problematic depending on factors outside of our control. We’ve all had those days where the computer decides to indefinitely snooze or the Internet prefers to inscrutably do its own thing. Or maybe we’ve worked in schools or locations where we have limited (or no!) access to such technology. Whatever the reasons may be, Owl Eyes can still help you and your students get the most out of the literary classics. Let’s examine a few ways Owl Eyes can be useful outside of the classroom.
Keeping Track of Assignments
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I still prefer my pen-and-paper planner for keeping track of everything I need and want to do. However, I’ve also learned that having important information in multiple locations is incredibly helpful—especially on my phone and computer. When you assign texts to your classroom on Owl Eyes, you can also create assignments for sections of that book. Even if you aren’t actively using the site during class time, you can still use the assignment feature as a convenient way to keep a record of past and future assignments. This record allows you to remind yourself of what you’ve asked students to do for their homework—the text is fully customizable, so feel free to write anything that relates to you and your classes! Additionally, if your students have all registered within your classroom, creating assignments sends them email notifications, allowing you to easily update everyone on tasks and any possible changes.
Checking Student Progress
Since Owl Eyes is compatible with any device, it’s easy for students (and you!) to carry around our extensive library wherever you go. Similarly, you can check up on how much reading progress your students have made on assigned texts by checking your Reading Syllabus pages.
Within your personal classroom syllabus pages, you can see students’ reading progress, quiz completion, and any annotations that they’ve created. Just click on a student’s name to view all of this information.
This is a great way to keep tabs on how much work students have done. This can help you assess their readiness for class, plan ahead for discussion topics, or even look to their annotations for guidance on what parts of the text they need more help on. I particularly like this feature, because students can create annotations to draw your attention to difficult passages.
Extending Class Discussion
Sometimes (well, this may be an understatement) our lesson plans don’t always go how we thought they would, and we spent our class time dealing with other challenges and unplanned learning opportunities. Fortunately, you can use Owl Eyes to keep the discussion going long after the bell has rang.
For instance, if you were trying to get to the feedback portion of your lesson but ran out of time, have a student representative from each group post the results of their discussion into the text. The rest of the class could then read and respond to any comments or questions from the discussion. While you could make this part of the assignments, it’s been my experience that students have had quite a bit of fun engaging with this feature on their own.
Helping with Lesson Planning
If you’re anything like me, you’re hungry for inspiration and material to keep your students engaged and on track. And we all know that getting a great idea for a lesson plan is only half the battle; we need content to serve our purposes. We’re spending a lot of time here at Owl Eyes trying to make these classic texts more accessible to you and your students by continually developing new and insightful annotations. Trying to do a lesson on irony in the Cask of Amontillado? We’ve got some ideas for you. Looking for themes on Christianity and Paganism in Beowulf? Look no further.
Many texts in our Featured Books section contain analysis pages. More are added all the time! These provide you an at-a-glance look at annotations related to particular areas like themes, character analysis, tone, etc. You could copy a few of these and use them as discussion items or even modify them for writing or assessment purposes.
Additionally, it’s no secret that many students have a hard time learning to spot allusions, dealing with connotations, and sometimes just figuring out what the heck Dostoevsky was saying. To that end, these annotations can help you get additional context and insights into making these works more accessible for the class by giving them some information to read and react to.
You can use these annotations in any way you see fit. Me? I like to use them as jumping off points for discussion or as a way to let students compare their insights with those of others. Another fun trick is to hide all of the official annotations, have students annotate on their own, and then turn them back on so your class can compare what they annotated with others around the world!
So, I hope you’ve got a little more insight into the different ways Owl Eyes can be of use even if you’re not using it directly in the classroom. While we don’t all have equal access to technology in the classroom, we can still use online tools like Owl Eyes to expand our classrooms the walls of our schools and reach our students in different ways.