Late to the party…
So excited to be added to the #cyberPD community as they read and reflect on Digital Reading by William L. Bass II and Franki Sibberson. Here are my thoughts on chapters 1 and 2:
Chapter 1 is about “Defining Digital Reading”. Well it certainly is more than just reading something on a screen. I joked about the idea of “Put it on a screen and readers are hooked” (which was actually the title of my presentation just yesterday at #ILA15). Putting something on a screen certainly doesn’t make it digital reading.
The comparisons of two readers “Marissa” and “Julia” were particularly poignant for me, especially as a gifted intervention specialist. Many of our gifted learners are actually like Marissa…they look like they “play school” well and pick things up quickly and easily. BUT our gifted learners still need to be taught explicitly how to do many things. Teachers cannot ever assume that a gifted learner already knows something or possess the skills they need. While my gifted students do not need the repetition, I still have to make sure that I teach them the skills. And so my mission this school year is to really observe and guide my students into being more like “Julia”.
On page 4 the authors state: “Digital reading experiences must be part of the opportunities we give students on a regular basis. If not, we’re discounting much of the reading they will engage with in the future.” This really struck me. I think about how I start my day (before my feet hit the floor) by grabbing my smart phone and checking email, Facebook, Twitter, texts, and the news. Before I turn on a light… The fact that I am so dependent on digital resources speaks volumes. I think most of the parents of my students are like me too, and so I need to make sure they realize that so that they can model at home more mindfully. I teach precocious 8-10 year olds, so while the parental instinct is to shield and shelter their young kids from the digital community, my parents need to model how to access and use safely and appropriately (which is why I’ve incorporated digital citizenship learning into everything.) In any event, perhaps the future is much sooner than we think…
On page 6, the discussion of tech use is key. I attended ISTE a few weeks ago and just returned from ILA. I loved both experiences, but have to admit that while ISTE was amazing, I was more engaged at ILA. Why? Well ISTE was about the tech…the bells and whistles, the “cool tool” aspect mostly. ILA was about the learning. I’m in love with both, but the learning is always first and foremost. ‘Digital readers must have to be able to navigate the digital texts they will encounter.’ Period. It is not about the coolest platform or application, and quite frankly I use so many with my kids because I want them to be flexible. I don’t want them to feel locked into one app or site alone. Because it isn’t about the tool…
This brings me to the 4 types of digital texts listed on page 8: linear texts in digital format, nonlinear texts with hyperlinks, texts with integrated media, and texts with response options. As I considered this, I immediately categorized all of the digital texts I’ve already used. This made me realize that I should be explicit in teaching my students this. (I’m feeling another video lesson in my future…) My gifted learners will definitely benefit from my making this connection visible.
As I moved on to the considerations on page 11, scaffolding came up. My favorite “word” so to speak. I teach my gifted learners that my job is to continuously scaffold learning for them. They tend to feel they need to be at the top and stay there. I have to remind them that if they already climbed one mountain, I have to find a higher one for them so they can continue to grow. There scaffold never ends. (I also have to remind them that their scaffolds are in different places, because when you have a classroom of 15-20 kids together who are used to being the top in the class, they learn quickly that they may not know it all as they thought…) Scaffolding digital use is equally important. Again it is why I use SO many tools and platforms. It is why I want my kids to digitally access texts and assignments in a variety of ways. Digital texts are embedded constantly into my classroom in even the most simple ways, such as scanning a QR code for a great Time for Kids online article.
Finally, the part about ‘video literacy’ (page 13) struck me. Our kids are bombarded with media. For this reason media literacy is important. (I actually picked up Media Literacy by Frank Baker at ISTE and have already devoured that book too; it connects heavily with this book!) We have to teach our students to be critical of media literacy; that is a life skill they are going to need as adults! I love the quoting of students saying things like ‘We watch videos for fun. We don’t actually watch them for information.” If only they knew the truth… Want to know how many of my students come in bursting to tell me about something they saw on Discovery or the History channel? How’s that for ‘not learning’?!
Chapter 2 on From Reading Workshop to Digital Reading Workshop was my ‘affirmation’. I certainly do not proclaim to have it all figured out, but reading this chapter made me feel great about the direction I’ve been heading. I spend 1 hour a day with gifted readers (that is I see 4 groups of less than 20 students at a time) teaching Reading with Enrichment, Acceleration, and Discourse (READ…get it! Ok…maybe I am not as funny as I think!) In any event, while I do not focus on fluency or decoding, my role is comprehension. Deep and deeper comprehension. The Bloom’s Taxonomy permeates my room (literally too.) In my one hour with kids I have to pack as much in as possible, so my goal is to get my kids self-directed and independent in order to conference, coach, and facilitate. While time is what it is, the idea of ownership (choices) is HUGE. My kids work from a “menu” of options. Response whether it be in 1-1 conferences, or great discussions (typically smaller group) is critical. I still need to squeeze in some strategy/mini-lesson work, because again one never assumes gifted learners know, understand, or are able to do something already. But knowing that gifted learners are ‘poorer listeners’ (need to confirm this with research to be sure, but I think my theories on this stand up…check #2 here), I rarely give direct instruction any more. I have flipped this part of my class to video lessons for my kids to access independently while I confer or meet in groups to ‘talk about text’; we call our reading groups TaT groups.
As I look at the bulleted list on page 22, I reflected on what I currently do and what I will keep working on. Mini-lessons I mostly ‘flip’ with videos of myself. Independent reading- student directed options embedded in our menu ‘side dishes’ where they pick and chose content. Individual conferences – the more independent my kids become the more freedom I have to do this. Small group instruction- TaT groups. Share session and opportunities for response- we have weekly ‘discourse’ Friday and response in many ways with exit tickets and respond to text letters. Assessment that informs instruction- for me this connects to individual conferences, student work where I give specific, targeted, and explicit feedback, and observation. Validation that I am on the right path! And I say path because I am always learning more!