#CyberPD is an online professional development learning community where teachers read and discuss a common professional development text. Visit Reflect & Refine for more details and links to connect with the group. This year’s book isDigital Reading: What’s Essential in Grades 3-8 by Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass.
Last school year, I dove into technology with great enthusiasm. In my professional life, I continued blogging about reading and writing workshop practices and teaching in general,on two fronts: my own blog, A Teaching Life, and as a member of the Two Writing Teachers team, I became a much more frequent presence on Twitter and joined in chats, and I continued exploring digital tools. In my classroom, I set up Google Classroom sites for multiple purposes so that my sixth graders could share their thoughts about what they read, create and revise new writing pieces, and participate in numerous social studies projects and investigations. We had a class Twitter account to follow authors, and we shared our writing with a Slice of Life every Friday. But, even as we jumped into each of these ventures, I felt something was missing from the way I was leading my students through our journey through digital tools. It was a great relief, therefore, that this particular book was chosen for this summer’s cyberPD.
Chapter 1: I read and re-read this particular quote many times, for I think it points out the difficulty both my students and I had as we made our way through the course of the year:
…even though they’ve internalized how to use technology, too many students still use it on a superficial level. They may know where their games are bookmarked or where their app folder is on a device, but they aren’t necessarily digitally literate. This knowledge makes them technology users but certainly doesn’t give them a deep understanding of how the tools work, what the best tool might be for a specific task, or even what other tools might be available – skills that are vital to becoming truly literate. It takes time and experience to become a true digital reader…
I think the way I’ve been leading my students through digital experiences has not helped them make the move from superficial to true digital readers. This chapter’s focus on developing an intentionality in the way I teach digital literacy was especially powerful. I loved the way the authors explained the critical developments that readers from grades 3 to 8 pass through, and how passive digital reading becomes an ingrained habit and stance, “they begin to expect that these texts will not always make sense of have meaning. They become passive consumers…”. The injunction that “learning to read digital texts must be embedded in the ways we do our literacy work on a day-to-day basis” really resonated. As I go forward with Digital Reading, I hope to learn methods of doing exactly this.
I loved the story that this chapter began with – Moriya is exactly the type of reader that we want to nurture and inspire in our classrooms. Here’s what she thinks of as linked parts of her reading life: the desire to talk about a book experienced as part of a community of readers,a firm reading identity with favorite authors she knew she could connect to and continue the reading experience with, and the idea that a book lives with you long after you put it back on the shelf. The tables on pages 19 through 21 really helped me analyze the way Franki’s questions about traditional reading workshop and digital reading workshop were linked as well as where extended teaching needed to take place in order for intentionality with digital reading to stick. It was teaching with this type of intentionality that made Moriya “independent and flexible” in her very rich reading life.
My assignment for myself – create a list of questions such as the ones Franki posed on page 19: What role do digital texts play in my literacy workshop?