Home Content AreasEnglish Language Arts Make Reading Fun and Interactive with Edji

Make Reading Fun and Interactive with Edji

by Miguel Guhlin

As teachers, finding new ways to make content interactive can be tough. Tools like Edji turn sharing classroom texts into a fun “let’s do this together” learning experience. Come along as I share this collaborative annotation tool with you.

What Is Edji?

Edji is a digital tool that your class can use to collaboratively annotate any content you might share. Think of it as an audio and text commenting tool.

Your students get the opportunity to interact with the reading and communicate their ideas, connections, or opinions directly through the text. As their teacher, you can see all of their annotations come in live, gaining a unique view into not only what each student thinks, but how the class as a whole has interacted with the text (source).

Use it for collaborative reading annotations:

Gradual Release of Responsibility

Co-founded by a fifth-grade teacher, Edji can support GRR, the Gradual Release of Responsibility. Not familiar with that acronym? The goal of GRR is to:

…provide appropriate instruction, moving students towards independence.

Importantly, the GRR Framework does not have to be linear.  Based on instructional objectives, educators may appropriately choose to begin in any part of the framework. Students move back and forth between each of the components as they master skills, strategies, and standards (source).

Gradual Release Model

Want to learn more? Check out these resources that share how GRR and Edji can work together:

Edji Tools

Before you jump into Edji, let’s review some of the features you have access to as a teacher:

  • Student List: This feature makes it easy to see how students are digging into the text. You can see actions such as what they are highlighting, and it gives you the ability to track student interactions.
  • Heat Vision: With this feature, students can see their own comments as well as the teacher’s. It also allows you to turn on comment viewing by all students, enabling them to see each other’s annotations.
  • Fire Feed: When students make a comment, it appears in this feed and allows everyone to see what annotations are being made.
  • Questions: This enables you to add questions to the text and shows you how students have responded (see image below).

As the teacher, you can take any text you’ve created (more on that in a moment) and share it with a new class or group. Let’s take a look at some ways to get started.

Getting Started: Choose a Text

You can upload PDFs, images, and copy-and-pasted text to Edji. While there is a lot of text on the internet, you may need to use an optical character recognition (OCR) tool. Via OCR, you can grab any selection of text off print media and digitize it. Tools that make that easy include Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote, or Microsoft Lens. Of course, be careful not to digitize any content in violation of copyright.


Once content is in Edji, the teacher can add questions and include annotations. After it is set up the way you want it, you can invite students to join you in the text. As you can see in the screenshot below, you may share to Google Classroom, embed a code on a web page, or provide a short link.


Reading with Your Class

Ready to start reading with your class? Students don’t need Edji accounts. They only need a four-digit group code that you can share with them. This video walks you through the process:

With the Heat Vision tool, you are able to see areas of interest to students and see who made comments. What’s more, you can see student responses to questions you have inserted into the text.

Students are able to annotate the text directly with emojis, audio, or text. You can see one example below, where student “Jim” has left an audio comment:


Possible Uses of Edji

Copyright concerns aside, Edji suggests several ways teachers can use the product:

  • Art or diagram study
  • BookSnaps
  • Close reading
  • Dot voting
  • Exit slips
  • Morning meeting
  • Project evaluation

See a few other options in this Google Slides slidedeck.

Another approach may be to use it as an asynchronous, digital space; that is, use it for Reciprocal Teaching. You can have students share predictions, questions, and clarify vocabulary or ask them to post short summaries in their own words.

Edji’s Cost

As Matt Miller explains, the basic version of Edji is completely free for teachers.

“Edji is free with a $60/year upgrade to “hero” status. Free users are limited to two active readings — your two most recent ones. All others are frozen, disabling commenting and copying unless you upgrade to hero. (But as fast as it is to create an Edji reading, you may not even need hero status)” (source).

Get Edji with Student Reading

Want to generate some buzz around classroom texts? Edji may be the collaborative annotation tool you need. From emojis to audio, students can annotate and see it happen in real time. Give it a try with your favorite text or explore the Discover area to find texts from other educators. Additionally, you may want to join the Edji Facebook community.

Feature Image Source

Image by author.

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