What is the right balance between reading books and reading digitally? How do we prepare our students for the shifts in literacy that our culture is going through?
I recently attended a conference called ReThinking Literacy in Singapore. Sessions focused on training students in media literacy and training strategic digital readers. In a world where more and more content is assessed online, traditional paper reading skills are no less important, but we can’t assume that students will transfer their paper-based reading and writing skills to the digital arena.
“Our task is to kaleidoscope the lesson and origami the content.” – Kristin Ziemke
One of the keynote presenters, Kristin Ziemke is an elementary teacher in a Chicago public school. She gave incredibly practical advice for implementing technology in the classroom to train students for literacy in a digital culture.
She explained the shifts in literacy from yesterday to today. Whereas in the past content was text-dependent and our writing centered around a 5 paragraph essay, students today sort through text, images and video to build knowledge and their ideas are synthesized through microwriting (texts, tweets, etc.)
She also talked about modeling for students how to “View to Learn.” When showing a video in class, walk students through these steps:
- View with a wide awake mind
- Think about what’s happening in the clip
- Annotate your thinking
- Pause the video so you can turn and talk with a partner
- “Reread” the video by watching it again
Have you seen a student take an hour choosing fonts for their keynote? When asking students to produce digital content, use a pyramid to remind them how to focus their time. The base of the pyramid, a vast proportion of their time, should be spent on building content. The next level is the creation of content, then less time on polishing content (fonts, pictures) before the final top of the period, presenting content.
Sharing and commenting on peers’ work online is a great learning resource. How can we train students to write great comments? What does a great comment look and sound like? See attached photo for Kristin’s suggestions for training kids in the building blocks of digital discussions.
I also attended many sessions by Lotta Larsen, Kansas State University, on Kindles in the classroom. At the conference, I presented on my action research study this year using immersive reading on the Kindle Fire tablet with English Language Learners and Learning Support students (tinyurl.com/rethinkingkindles
). Not only does immersive reading regulate their speed, it increased comprehension and motivation to read. Please let me know if you’d like to hear more about using Kindles in the classroom or discuss shifts in digital literacy!