Reading Doors

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Digital Reading Ch. 1-2 Reflection - #CyberPD

Another summer of #cyberPD has started and I'm very excited to be a part of this community again and the conversations that develop! If not already a member of this great community, check it out here.

I have always loved technology and the many things that it makes possible, but implementing its use within my classroom, though a priority, has always been a challenge. I do not have a 1:1 classroom, and in fact only have two outdated desktop computers in my room. Most of my 4th grade students do not have their own tablets or iPads, a larger portion have their own cellphones, with limited permissions from parents, but most can not afford the technology that our school Bring Your Own Device policy allows them to bring to school. It is because of this struggle to even find technology for my students to utilize that I am always eager to read about how to best implement digital devices and to teach digital literacy.

If my students only have limited exposure and access to current digital devices, then the time they do spend with it needs to be of the highest quality. 

Chapter 1: Defining Digital Reading

This chapter began with such a vivid description of two seemingly digitally literate students, Julia and Marissa. This image really hit home. Every year I have many students who are just like Marissa, digitally literate if taken at face value, but who have not truly established deep reading habits like those of Julia. 

As with most everything, students, though having grown up with technology and understanding it's superficial uses, must be taught how to choose which tools are best, how to use these tools, and what other tools may be out there. Students understand games and apps, but little beyond that. How can students be expected to know and understand these digital tools, if we do not teach them? I must make it a part of my classroom procedures and schedules. I must not just use technology in my own life, but must constantly show my students that I do, taking the time to explain why and provide time for them to try these devices and tools as well. To this end, I love the reminder on page 8 that "we can't wait until a child is competent with traditional literacy skills and then expect the child to transfer those skills to digital reading."

Throughout these first chapters, I have been thrilled with the information in the figures and tables. I especially like Figure 1.3 on page 10. This table shows the traditional skills we've always taught and how these skills expand or change with digital reading. What a great tool for use when planning for integrated and embedded digital learning!

A few key lines I loved:
"But it is important to stay true to what we know about good literacy teaching: teaching that teaches the reader, not the text." (pg. 12)

"This is not an either/or conversation; we don’t want to abandon books completely, and we also don’t want to imply that we should access only digital texts." (pg. 13)

Chapter 2: From Reading Workshop to Digital Reading Workshop

The second chapter of this book focuses on turning a reading workshop, into a digital reading workshop, and starts with reaffirming the choice to use a workshop. Put simply, it works. Students are invited to be a part of a community with authentic reading activities, and even in a digital world, this is still what students need. We can't turn away from what we know helps students grow.

I, on occasion, use digital texts within my classroom instruction, but as I read this chapter, I realized how much more I need to incorporate a wide variety of digital texts in order to have the impact on students that I desire. As I plan my teaching and instruction, I need to ask myself, "Am I sharing my own process and consumption of digital texts with my students? Am I making this authentic and real?" My students will learn from my example, but not if they don't see how I live out my reading life.

As with Chapter 1, so many of the tables spoke volumes to me. One of the best figures in this chapter was Figure 2.3, which compared a traditional workshop to a digital workshop, highlighting the small but vital changes that are needed. It may be a challenge, but making the transition from traditional reading instruction to digital reading instruction is critical in achieving the best education for my students.

"We want our students to be authentic readers and, at the same time, to be intentional, active, and reflective as they read all forms of media." (pg. 22)


  1. Hello Stephanie!

    First of all, I'm so thankful that you are joining in the #cyberPD conversations again this year! On another note, I read and responded to your post yesterday right before I had to take my girls to swim lessons. Then before I clicked 'publish', I had a digital learning experience with one of my daughters. You see, she came over to the computer as I was finishing my response and asked what I was doing. I explained that we both read the same book and I was reading what you learned and then writing back to you. She noticed your picture and asked, "Does she work at your school?" This was the exciting part to tell her that we didn't work at the same school, yet we were learning together using the computer! Then before I published the comment, I clicked on your picture so that she could see you .... and lost it all. Frustrating? Yes. Learning experience for us both? Yes. Trying to explain that it wasn't her fault? We did just fine. So, I'm back ... to try to remember what I wanted to respond!

    You are not alone in the challenge of have minimal technology in the classroom. Many other responses have stemmed around this difficulty, but knowing this group, we'll come up with some great ideas to push digital reading and learning in your classrooms at the 'highest quality'!

    I think the key to a digital reading workshop is embedding all the variety of text that we can --- authentically and intentionally. And as you mentioned, you must make it a part of your classroom procedures and schedule. I read chapter 3 this week and I have to share that you must skip ahead and read the teacher voice tip by Ann Marie Corgill on p. 40-41. She embedded "technology tips and techniques" into her morning meeting time. What a perfect time to briefly share -- and then time during workshop to practice and try tools out with choice text (books or digital) ending with the sharing time. You could even start an anchor chart of the different tools organizing them by the purpose and highlighting the benefits of the tool. Later in the year, she mentioned that the students were teaching tools they discovered!

    I also loved all the tables and figures too -- I flagged them because I know I'll be returning to them often!

    I enjoyed reading your reflections and how you specify the areas that you know you need to improve or plan intentionally. I think the next 3 chapters will offer you some great ideas! Thanks again for your patience ... I'm not sure what I missed from my first response, but for now ... I shared enough! :)

    1. Also, this came across on Twitter -- a couple of the figures/tables typed up to print:

    2. Michelle,
      I enjoyed hearing about your digital learning experience! It made me smile to think of your daughter getting to see us connect digitally first-hand. What a great experience! Thanks for the link, too. It'll definitely be handy when planning for this upcoming year.


  2. We can all do so much more, but it's important that we will be sticking our toes in the water rather than our heads in the sand!

  3. Stephanie,
    You said, "I realized how much more I need to incorporate a wide variety of digital texts in order to have the impact on students that I desire." This struck me too as I was reading the first two chapters. I use digital texts as they work in our workshop and am intentional about my choices. I'm not, however, sure I'm always showing students a diverse enough variety of text. I need to think more about this as I am selecting texts for digital use.

    I think the availability challenge is one many people are working through right now. I know the availability of technology in our school has changed dramatically in the last five years. It's been a process --- often slower than I wish. I do realize how lucky we are to be where we are right now. In our classrooms we have three iPads and three desktops available most days. (That took a little creativity on our part.) It is becoming more and more common to have a few more iPads. Getting laptops is still a challenge. However, our first graders can work wonders with an iPad. It certainly is easier to make changes with access is consistent.


    1. Cathy,
      I can see my building's technology situation change, but it is a very slow process, much slower than I would like. I keep trying not to use the lack of access as an excuse, but it seems as though that is the wall I always end up hitting. I'm really looking forward to this #cyberPD helping fuel ideas that I can use to increase access as well as increasing the technology experiences.

  4. Stephanie,
    Your comment about providing the highest quality digital experiences especially for those students with limited access really spoke to me. So often, I've seen people using technology just so they can say they're using it with their students... but is this really best practice?

    I also love your reaffirmed commitment to the workshop approach! I agree - it works!

    Looking forward to next week,