Here we are at the last week of our Smore Tech Summer Camp! The time has flown by, hasn’t it? I hope you’ve learned a few things to help you with your library teaching! This week, let’s talk about digital reading.
You have probably seen articles arguing about which is better for our students: digital or print reading. I won’t try to convince you of either side. I say we should teach both. I reached this conclusion based on research (each has benefits and disadvantages) and my own personal preferences. There are times when I prefer a paperback book that I can physically (and colorfully) highlight and mark up with pencilled notes. There are times when I prefer my Kindle loaded with books and easily carried in my purse.
Clearly our students will be required to read on digital devices for their future education and careers. Are you seeing a trend toward digital textbooks and testing in your district? We need to equip our students for their digital future! How do we do that? What are best practices for teaching digital reading skills to our students?
Digital Chapter Books to Read Aloud
I’ve incorporated digital books in my read aloud strategy. When I’m reading a book aloud to a group of students, I project the digital version of the book on our SMART board as I read. This allows students to follow along, reading each word as I pronounce it correctly. They can see the illustrations, too.
With this group of second grade high readers, I would read aloud a chapter of a Judy Moody and Stink book. (The Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt–why did she have to say “booty” so many times?) At the end of the chapter, students worked in pairs to write a digital journal entry by either Judy Moody or Stink. Before they began writing their journal entry, we talked as a group about what they might write, and highlighted words from the text that they would include.
This was an engaging activity that improved student comprehension and expanded their vocabulary.
Teachers on my campus also use this technique with read-alouds. No need to buy a classroom set of every book. Students can follow along the digital version on the SMART board or projection screen. Teachers assign a struggling reader to be the “page turner” (page clicker?) for the digital book. This job helps that student stay focused, feel important, and read with support.
Digital Picture Books
In an excellent article in Book Links, Deborah Dean lists several questions you can ask your upper elementary students as you read an electronic picture book together.
- How do font changes affect reading? In an ebook? On a web page?
- Notice which words are larger, bolder, or different in font or color.
- What do the font changes emphasize?
- How do font changes affect the meaning and our understanding?
- Look at books with juxtaposition of different texts on two page spreads, like A Creature Was Stirring, One Leaf Rides the Wind, Songs of the Waterboatman and Other Pond Poems, and Ubiqitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors. Talk about how the reader should read these texts. All the left sides in sequence? Each page in its entirety? How do those choices make a difference?
- Talk about the relationships between illustrations and text.
- Talk about the relationship between the reader and the text. In interactive books like A Rain Forest Food Chain: A Who-Eats-What Adventure in South America, the readers choose their own path through the book.
- Compare this to reading a digital page on the Internet. How do the Internet reader’s choices (to skip, skim, scan, click on links) impact her understanding?
Your Digital Book Collection
I am blessed to have a huge district Overdrive collection of digital ebooks and audiobooks for my students and teachers to check out. Students can check out a book on any device, then continue reading it in the school library, at home, in the classroom, at Grandma’s house, or anywhere they have internet access. If I didn’t have Overdrive in our district, I would use the digital resources of our local public library in my instruction.
Ignoring digital content is not an option. Our AASL Standards require that we help students learn to use technology academically (Standard 1) and for personal growth (Standard 4). You need to find a way to bring digital reading to your students!
Please share on our Digital Reading Padlet what digital reading resources you use and love!
Want to read more on this subject?
“Bridging the Gap between Print and Online: Picture Books and Electronic Texts,” by Deborah Dean in Book Links, March 2010. Available via Gale PowerSearch.
This book is on my reading list. (affiliate link)
Digital Reading is based on teaching experience and the NCTE Policy Research Brief Reading Instruction for All Students. You’ll probably hear more from me this year as I digest this book and implement its ideas in my school library! Let me know if you’d like to do an online book club with me and this book!
Please share your thoughts on digital reading on our Padlet. I’d love to hear how YOU teach your students to be stronger digital readers!