Digital Reading follow up Sept. 2015
One of my big take-aways from #cyberPD and the discussions I continue to have with colleagues about Digital Reading is that digital reading is about engaging in reading through some sort of device. It is about interacting with text on some sort of screen. But it is more than just text; I think of multimedia (audio, video, graphics/illustrations) as part of my reading experience as well. As a reading teacher, decoding text is important, but the construction of meaning is really what reading is all about. Digital reading is not replacing traditional reading of print in my opinion, but rather enhancing or adding to it. Reading skills are the focus. The format through which rich text is accessed can differ. For this reason, I still teach basic comprehension skills and strategies.
While I’ve implemented many new ideas (thanks to my #cyberPD friends and Voxer group: @MrsSokolowski, @litlearningzone, @AffinitoLit, @ErikaMVictor, and @LauraKomos), my most recent undertaking is giving my gifted 4th grade readers more options for accessing non-fiction texts. We cherish our classroom Newsstand which currently is home to a large collection of periodicals (Ask, Faces, Cricket, Nat Geo for Kids, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Nat Geo Traveler and others donated here and there). I’ve enhanced this collection by linking content I’ve found online with QR codes and have now started collecting content with a Symbaloo Webmix for students to access. (Digital Reading was created with help from the #cyberPD group and Current Events is something I put together for students containing local Loveland Ohio content as well as great kid friendly sites.) My goal is to help connect my students with current and interesting content whether it be print or digital.
Now when accessing print content, my students love having a variety of annotating tools available to them. Sticky notes and highlighters are favorites. These tools encourage closer and deeper readings of text. When using print sources, my students have been annotating and then they share what they are doing with me using Seesaw. This app lets them take pictures of annotated print texts and upload them to their digital portfolios. This has been a fantastic way to let my students collect evidence of their thinking. I am able to see their thoughts right next to the text that inspired it without having to search through pages. Then when finished, students can remove their annotations for someone else to enjoy the same text annotation free. Of course I also provide my students with copies of texts that they can write on and mark up. (My favorites often come from the Toolkit Text series by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis.)
Still I wanted a way that my students could interact with digital texts more. They can annotate in print, but being able to highlight and mark on text really helps a reader dive in. Through Google Play for Education I was able to install Chrome add ons for my students: Liner and Page Marker (instructions here). Accessing an article from the digital newsstand resources, I did a screencast video and modeled how to annotate using a close reading strategy I had already taught students for locating main ideas, details, marking questions, and circling unfamiliar or content specific words. (Here are two lessons I did for students using Educreations: Intro to Close Reading and Close Reading Using Iceberg Article). Modeling with these new digital annotating tools, I showed how I went back and re-read an online article from Time for Kids closely to identify these things. Next I demonstrated how to take a screenshot of my annotations and insert it into a Google Document so that I could synthesize my thinking and write a summary of what was important in the text. I also reminded my students how they could look up definitions using the research tool in a Google Document.
In this way, my students are able to select current content that interests them, practice close reading strategies and learn/practice skills with technology all at the same time. Digital reading isn’t replacing traditional reading from print… it is just different!