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Lesson Plan

Going Digital: Using e-Book Readers to Enhance the Reading Experience

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 2 – 4
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time One introductory 45-minute lesson and four additional 15-minute minilessons
Lesson Author

Lotta C. Larson, Ph.D.

Lotta C. Larson, Ph.D.

Manhattan, Kansas


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Introductory Session (45 minutes)

Additional Minilessons (15 minutes each)

Built-In Dictionary

Highlighting Text


Note Taking

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Increase their understanding of vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency by using digital reader tools and features to support their reading processes

  • Comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts by engaging in personal literature response

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Introductory Session (45 minutes)

  1. Explain to your students that they will read an electronic book, or e-book, on a device called a digital reader. Hold up a digital reader for students to look at and introduce the title of the story that you will use for demonstration purposes. Also, show students the print version of the same book. Explain, “Today we are going to read The Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne but instead of reading it the regular way, we are going to use a digital reader.”

  2. Place the digital reader on the visual presenter and zoom in so the device screen is visible on the large wall screen. Demonstrate how to turn on the device and access the book. Begin reading aloud while the students follow along on the projected page.

  3. After reading for a few minutes, stop and ask students what they have noticed so far. “How does the page look similar or different from a printed page?” Explain that the digital reading device comes with “tools” that the reader can manipulate to help become a better reader. “For example, we can change the font size.” Demonstrate how to make the font larger and smaller.

  4. Continue reading the story. Stop when you come to an illustrated page and demonstrate how to change the page orientation. Explain to students that “adjusting the page orientation changes the way the page looks. This may be particularly useful if reading a picture book, as illustrations often display better when reading in landscape mode.”

  5. When you come to a designated stopping point in the book, display a page of the printed book on the visual presenter. Point out the page layout (perhaps there is an illustration at the top of the page, followed by text). Locate the same illustration and/or text in the e-book. Display on visual presenter. Discuss how the two versions differ. Emphasize that the page layout changes in the digital version, depending on the reader’s preferred font size and page orientation. However, the print version always stays the same. As a class, discuss why it can be beneficial to change the font size and page orientation. Ask students to share prior encounters with really large or small texts.

  6. Assign students a digital reader. (If you have a shortage of digital readers, divide students into small groups and assign one device per group. Alternatively, create a schedule, providing each student with daily reading time.) Review how to access their books and encourage students to change the font size and page orientation to suit their individual needs as readers. As student read, observe their use of these tools; record observations on the form Digital Reader Tools and Features Anecdotal Record.

  7. As the reading period comes to an end, display your digital reader on the visual presenter. Demonstrate how to insert a digital bookmark. Remind students to do so at the end of each subsequent reading session. (If students read as a group, they should only add one bookmark. If students read individually but share a digital reader with other students throughout the day, each student can add an individual bookmark.)

  8. Explain, “Today you learned how to make your font bigger and smaller, change the page orientation, and add a bookmark. For many readers, a larger font makes it easer to read and understand a story.” Encourage students to share their font/page orientation preferences. Continue, “Over the next few days, you will learn to how to use many other tools and features of your digital reader.” As a class, discuss their initial experience with a digital reader. Guiding questions may include

    • How does reading an e-book compare to reading a print book?

    • What frustrations or challenges have you encountered so far?

    • What do you like about using a digital reader?

    • How can changing the font size and page orientation support you as a reader?

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Additional Minilessons (15 minutes each)

At the beginning of each subsequent reading session, conduct a brief minilesson to introduce additional digital reader tools and literary skills. Because students often find unique ways to use and adapt digital reader tools to suit their individual needs as readers, encourage student sharing and discussion during these lessons. Following each minilesson, students should be given independent reading time. During reading time, carefully observe students’ reading behaviors and use of digital reader tools and features or meet with them individually or in small groups to discuss use of tools and literacy learning. Take notes to document progress on the Digital Reader Tools and Features Anecdotal Record.

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Built-In Dictionary

  1. Hold up a traditional dictionary. Ask students, “How can a dictionary help readers understand what they are reading?”

  2. Model how to use the dictionary while reading. Read a brief passage from a print text. Stop at an unfamiliar or difficult word. Look up the definition in the dictionary. Ask students, “How do you feel about using the dictionary while reading?”

  3. Explain to students that most digital readers have a built-in dictionary, which makes the process of looking up words faster and more convenient. Display your digital reader on the visual presenter. Ask students to follow along as you read a brief text passage aloud. Stop at an unfamiliar or difficult word. Model how to access the built-in dictionary to look up the definition(s) of the identified word.

  4. While accessing the dictionary, also point out synonyms, antonyms, phonetics, and pronunciation guides. Discuss how these features can further help readers understand the meaning of a word and decode unfamiliar words. (The features of built-in dictionaries may vary depending on the brand and model of your digital reader.)

  5. Referring to the word(s) you just looked up, model how to fill out the Dictionary Detective handout. Distribute one handout to each student and ask that they document their use of the built-in dictionary as they read independently.

  6. At the end of the independent reading session, collect the Dictionary Detective handout and review students’ use of the built-in dictionary. Offer feedback to individual students as needed.

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Highlighting Text

  1. Similarly to highlighting sections in a word document, students can highlight passages in their e-books. Hold up a traditional highlighter pen and ask students when and how they use this tool while reading. Discuss how readers often use highlighters to help them focus on a particular part of a story or help them identify specific vocabulary or literary elements for example.

  2. Display your digital reader on the visual presenter. Demonstrate how to access and use the highlighter while reading a text passage aloud.

  3. Ask students to use the highlighter while reading independently. Depending on your lesson objectives, ask students to highlight content-specific vocabulary, spelling patterns, story elements (i.e., characters, settings, plot), literary elements (i.e., similes, metaphors, alliterations), rhyming words, passages that are funny and entertaining. The possibilities are endless.

  4. At the end of the reading session, ask students to share and discuss what they highlighted while reading.

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  1. Some digital readers come with text-to-speech capabilities. Using the visual presenter and large screen, demonstrate how to access and use the text-to-speech feature and related preferences including reading rate (slow, fast), voice (male or female), volume control, and headphone use. Explain to students that the text-to-speech feature can be used to practice reading fluency, help readers pronounce unfamiliar words or text passages, or simply enjoy listening to a story.

  2. To practice reading fluency, divide students into pairs. Ask them to listen to a passage and then read the same passage to each other. Alternatively, ask individual students to listen to a text passage (using headphones) while silently reading along. Adjust the reading rate (slow, fast) and voice (male, female) to suit students’ individual needs.

  3. During silent reading time, encourage students to access the text-to-speech feature to listen to difficult reading passages to hear pronunciations of unfamiliar vocabulary. Headphones are encouraged.

  4. Circulate around the room and listen to individual students as they read aloud. Record observations on the Digital Reader Tools and Features Anecdotal Record.

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Note Taking

  1. Using a visual presenter, display your digital reader on a large screen. As you read a text passage aloud, use the note tool to record your personal thoughts, feelings, or questions in response to what you’ve read. Explain to your students that this process is “similar to adding sticky notes to pages of a regular book” and allows you to include a personal response as you would in a writer’s notebook.

  2. Before asking students to insert notes while reading, establish clear lesson objectives and expectations for note taking: How often should students insert notes? What kinds of response notes should they write? Can students access each other’s e-books and respond to each other’s notes?

  3. During ensuing lessons, introduce students to different types of responses and encourage them to expand their individual response repertoire. As students participate in whole-class or small-group literature discussions, encourage them to access and share their digital notes.

  4. Following this session, review students’ digital response notes. Examine the number of notes and the types of notes inserted.

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  • Use the Digital Reader Tools and Features Anecdotal Record to document students’ progress. Record if and when students use certain tools, examples of how tools are used, and impact on literacy learning.

  • Carefully observe and meet with students individually to determine their use of digital reader tools and their impact on literacy learning.

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