Chapter 3 in Digital Reading: What’s Essential in Grades 3-8, dealt with the issue of how to make digital learning authentic for students. Workshop should not be designed around the technology; instead the technology should fit the need of that day. There were so many great ideas in this chapter that helped me to reflect on the technology I’m currently using with my students, why I’m using it (does it fit the purpose), and what else we could include. Some take-aways from the chapter for me were:
· * The students need to feel comfortable using the technology. One of our goals should be to expose the students to several different kinds of technology and then let the students chose the technology that best fits their needs. This could include the type of text they choose to read, the type of response, etc. For teachers this means that we need to feel comfortable giving up some control. The easy way to teach is to assign the text and then assign the type of response we want the student to do. Unfortunately by not allowing student choice we too often receive mediocre responses. Students don’t buy into the text or the response. The key is choice for the text, the response, and the technology!
· * “Being readers ourselves is the best tool we have to keep our classroom workshops authentic.” p.30 Teachers need to do what they ask their students to do. For the past few years I have regularly read books and kept a reader’s notebook along with my students. At first I felt very self-conscious sharing my journal entries out loud with my classes. But the students listened and asked questions! And after a little while I began to notice something, students were writing more and the quality of the entries began to improve. This was just the encouragement I needed to continue writing and sharing.
· * “…she didn’t have to teach every single skill for every tool; what she did have to do was explain herself as she was teaching so that students could not only see what she was doing with a specific tool but also know why she was doing it.” p.31 This is something that was always a roadblock for me when it came to adding new technology. I felt as if I needed to become an expert first, before I introduced the tool to my students, otherwise I wouldn’t want to try it. This too is a control issue. I need to feel comfortable introducing students to the tools, sharing with them how I use it, and talking through the choices I make while I demonstrate using it. Then I need to let the students try it out for themselves and make their own decisions. This will increase their ownership of the tool. And in fact I can learn from them!
· * There are so many online tools that can enhance the reading workshop. Many of them we’ve already been using: KIdBlog, Twitter, Skype, Edmodo. One goal I have for this year is to make read-aloud more interactive for the students. Tools such as Padlet and Corkulous are definitely something I want to try for student responses and formative assessments. Both of these tools are also great for allowing students to see what their classmates think of the text, which helps to further build our reading community.
Now on to chapter 4!