How to Make Meaning with Technology for Texts

While English class traditionally revolves around reading, analyzing, and writing about texts such as novels, plays, and poems, technology offers us new ways to make meaning from these texts. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with giving students shorter assignments designed to check for understanding about a reading/text. This helps students stay engaged, learn new ways of expressing themselves, and also share thoughts about content and ideas. Additionally, these assignments can be finished quickly or drawn out, based on your goals for the lesson and the amount of time you’ve allotted.

Below is a list of five ways you can incorporate technology into a check for understanding. For more ideas, consider taking my class, Using Technology Effectively in the Secondary English Classroom!

1. A tweet of/about/for a chapter/event/character

Here’s one from a student who imagined Lennie in Of Mice and Men tweeting. Notice the student even made appropriate character handles:


2. A meme about a character or event in a text

Here’s one a student created for A Streetcar Named Desire:


Or this one, about Of Mice and Men and Lennie’s obsession with soft things:


Using memes allows me to see if students understand what’s happening in a text in a quick way– gauging understanding of the tone and the meaning of the work.

 3. A Snapchat character could have potentially sent

What impressed me with these was how students ended up looking up an image on the internet, and making the Snapchat with their phones, and then screen-capturing said Snapchat.  It worked well to demonstrate student knowledge of content and character.


4. A Vine of a moment from the text

Here’s an example a student made for Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which was a choice read. This assignment required students to do a series of 5-6 vines that summarized the text. This particular one was impressive because instead of using real people, she drew it.

 5. A comic of one or two panels

I haven’t assigned this one yet, but I just discovered this resource, and I want to use it this year. It makes creating comics incredibly quick and easy for those of us who can’t draw well!