First I want to thank Margaret Simon for inviting me to join her #DigLitSunday community! I am always eager to learn with other passionate educators!.
With a new school year on the horizon, I once again find myself excited about implementing fresh ideas from my own learning. This summer was filled with so much more, as an unexpected foot surgery resulted in an excessive amount of time to read, learn, read, reflect, read, write… I am almost overwhelmed with all of the new learning I have to process and implement into my classroom.
However, an important part of the process for me is improving upon ideas I tried that need some refinement. That is where Digital Reading (Bass/Sibberson) from #cyberPD 2015 comes in. As I picked the book back up for a quick review, I found three things I considered last year that I am looking to pump up: (1) Digital Reading Survey to start the year, (2) Digital Reading Walls (and idea I took from Cathy Mere), and (3) Print vs. Digital views.
Starting with the survey, I adapted questions from page 89 to set up a Google form for students. The goal was to consider what they already knew and to get them thinking about digital reading. It was a great way to get to know new students and for parents to gain insight into types of reading that they did not consider. For instance, one of the questions is about audiobooks. Check the survey here. Last year I sent this to families before the year started and had a nice return on responses, but what I didn’t do was follow up with those that did not participate. This year, I will have students who didn’t participate from home add their thinking in class. I am also going to use it as a start to work on educating parents more on digital citizenship as their children start to venture more into exploring digital reading.
Next I am building “digital reading walls” for my new 3rd graders. Cathy Mere wrote a post last year about Creating a Reading History Archive for her students. While my student population (3rd/4th grade gifted readers) differs from her population, I loved her idea for using Padlet to create a wonderful visual archive of texts students read. My situation is a bit unique…I will see 90 8-10 year olds next year each day…that is a ton of children! Having only an hour with them is not much time to really get to know them as readers. I have shared texts we read for discussion and higher level analysis, evaluation, and thinking. I have them write responses to self-selected texts each week in a “letter” to me. But this still doesn’t give me the full picture of all of the reading my students do. Therefore I asked parents to start sending me pictures of their child holding books they were reading at home (ideally, snap a photo while the child is holding the book and reading it…) Then I put the pictures on Padlet to create their child’s digital reading wall. This is Trevor (whom I get to have as a 4th grader this year!)
Trevor’s wall is a bit of an exception, as his mother was very much into sharing photos; I did not do a good enough job in reminding parents and students to keep up with the photos all year, so I plan to do that. I’m excited that I already have one incoming student wall started and just got an email yesterday from another incoming student filled with pictures! What I love about this is that it helps me gain insight into my student personalities and sharing the walls with everyone lets students see what they might have in common. Another benefit… my parents often ask me about how to get their children reading more “challenging” texts; that is they are not fans of some of the selections they see their child making as they consider them to “low level”. These walls gave me a chance to open dialogue…gifted learners often have asynchronous development and while my 8-9 year olds might be “able” to read at a high school level, they are emotionally no where near that. Those texts about characters that use “potty humor” are what many of my kids still relate to and so parents should let their children pursue these texts for independent selections. In any event, I have a goal to really use the digital reading walls as a tool for assessing what my student interests are.
Finally the idea of “print vs. digital”; this was a topic that I really considered last summer during the book study and even made a video for my students and families “comparing” the benefits of a print resource and a digital resource.
In the video I use the same text but show what I like about the print version and what I like about the digital version. Doing this as a learner myself allowed me to realize that we should not view use of materials as “either, or” but rather “and”. Print and digital sources need to be used simultaneously in our classrooms, AND we need to be mindful of the need to explicitly teach our children strategies for reading digital text. (In Digital Reading, Sibberson told a tale of two 3rd graders: Marissa and Julia and stated that she had “come to learn that merely reading on a computer does not make a digital reader.” pgs. 1-3). This year I am more determined to be intentional in my use of both print and digital texts side by side and would like to spend some more time teaching how to read a digital source…it is easy for us to assume that our young learners know how to use a hyperlink and how to navigate back!
And so while I have many new ideas to implement and try this year in my classroom, I’m intentionally revisiting a few to improve digital literacy for my students!