Digital Reading for Primary Literacy Learners?
essential to learning conversations.
Franki and Bill's book is giving me a way to think more about the impact of digital literacy on the work I do daily sitting beside young learners. Though written for grades 3-8, I find much of their thinking affirming and applicable to primary students. Reading the first two chapters has made me ask a few questions. Is digital literacy important for primary children? Are they too young to gain meaning from digital text? In primary classrooms we work to create real world literacy experiences for students. Digital literacy is real world and our young students need to learn how to navigate this world much as their older peers.
In a primary classroom, we don't put away picture books that would be too challenging to read; instead we teach students to use the pictures to find meaning. We read aloud to them to make these texts accessible. We work to add books that students will be able to read either after reading aloud, because of supports within text, or due to simplicity of language. We don't put away informational texts they enjoy because they are too challenging, we teach them to use images, captions, and headings to start to determine meaning. We teach them to use the table of contents to find answers to their questions and to search for information. We stay focused on meaningful experiences with texts.
The same is true for digital literacy. I know I want my students to begin to understand how to navigate this digital world. For this reason, I look for sites appropriate for young learners. I create opportunities for shared experiences and adjust the support for learners through read aloud, shared reading, and shared writing of digital texts just as I would in using other print materials in my classroom.
As primary teachers we can't dismiss the play in the work students do in digital tools. Young children learn through play. Students like working in applications like Pixie, Educreations, and Voicethread to share their learning and thinking with others. Watching a classroom of young learners working digitally, it is easy to witness the playfulness and joy in these opportunities to create and make meaning.
"Students need specific experiences if they are to effectively navigate all types of texts and be digitally active readers (p. 8)." Franki and Bill remind me of the importance of the work we do as primary teachers in helping students in their first steps as citizens in a digital world, and in using digital tools in purposeful ways. Students using digital tools to practice letter formation or answer questions from a story are receiving very different experiences from those using tools to tell others about their reading using digital creation tools, writing on blogs to share their thinking, or interacting with authors of favorite books.
Finally, Bill and Franki remind us that the basic tenets of workshop remain the same: time, ownership, and response. Our structural components remain the same as well. As we expand our thinking to include digital literacy they focus the digital work discussion on three anchors: authenticity, intentionality, and connectedness. These are important to consider as a primary teacher in determining digital opportunities and planning appropriate support. I look forward to thinking more extensively about each of these in the coming chapters.
"We can't wait until a child is competent with traditional literacy skills and then expect the child to transfer those skills to digital text." p. 8
"We don't want our students merely to be able to read and understand nonlinear texts. Instead, we want them to be intentional about when and how to choose which types of text will help them find and best understand the message and medium." p. 9
"Learning to read digital texts must be embedded in the ways we do our literacy work on a day-to-day basis." p. 11
"We cannot presume that students must become proficient with traditional texts before we give them opportunities with digital texts." p. 14
"But though reading workshop looks the same, there is a big difference in its inner workings because the digital tools available to readers today actually change what is possible in a workshop." p. 16
"Digital reading wasn't an additional part of the classroom; rather, it became integral to the nature of our work." p. 20
More #cyberPD Information
Please stop by the Google Community to read reflections of participants and find important links. If you'd like to join, it's never too late:
- Week of July 6th: Read Chapter 1 - 2, digital response by 7/9
- Week of July 13th: Read Chapters 3-5, digital response by 7/16
- Week of July 23rd: Read Chapters 6 - 7, digital response by 7/23
- Final Twitter Chat with authors Franki Sibberson and Bill Bass: Tuesday, July 28th at 8 p.m. EST