Free Voluntary Web-surfing is great source of comprehensible input (Krashen 2011, 64; Krashen 2005). There are many ways to adapt this to suit your classroom, but use these guidelines to protect children.
- Surf with a plan. Conference with students to create small group or individual web-surfing plans. Use student interests to offer a list of safe sites and resources. The American Library Association has over 800 amazing kid-friendly sites, or you can talk to your school librarian.
- Monitor use of social media and online interaction and never allow students to give identifying information (their name, their school, etc.).
- Use settings to block inappropriate content. Make sure your school filters block inappropriate content, use safe search, and consider blocking images for very young students.
Two simple approaches to Free Voluntary Web-surfing
1. Read in a content-area or genre.
Shared reading and discussion about text in a genre or content-area can provide background knowledge, as well as set a purpose for Free Voluntary Web-surfing. For example, to enhance a Sheltered Literature study in lyrics, my students surfed the web for lyrics and contributed to a class’s blog of their favorite songs.
2. Create a Digital Magazine
Web-surfing and then contributing to a class magazine allows students to share enthusiasm for reading and creates a finished product students take pride in. Instapaper allows students to bookmark articles they love with one click. Their bookmarks compile to create a beautifully visual “magazine” of articles, blog posts, and websites.
I allow students to sign up for roles like “sports editor,” “fashion columnist,” or “celebrity news reporter.” Students familiarize themselves with online resources and then read narrowly in an area of personal interest.
Krashen, S. (2011). Free voluntary reading. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited. Also available at: http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/2011_free_voluntary_surfing.pdf
Krashen, S. (2005). “The ‘Decline’ of Reading in America, Poverty and Access to Books, and the use of Comics in Encouraging Reading.” Teachers College Record.
Serafini, F. (2015). Reading Workshop 2.0: Supporting Readers in the Digital Age. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.