Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#cyberPD 2015 - Week 2 - Chapters 3-5 - Digital Reading

This summer I am participating in #cyberPD Google Community.  We are reading and discussing Digital Reading: What's Essential by Bill Bass and Franki Sibberson.

Frankie's recalling of the 'rock girls' and how they easily transitioned from one tool to the next, whether it was digital or not was simply amazing...something I dream of.  Ahhhhh...

Frankie's discussion about the Book Trailer assignment was very interesting.  It was looking back and reflecting on her assignments that helped her to make necessary changes and have more successful Book Trailers.  I find sometimes that is the best way for me to learn as a teacher!  I dive in and try something out, then I can reflect and make changes. (When I say dive in, I do spend time planning first. LOL)

Thoughts on Authenticity
Questions about authenticity come up whether lessons are digital or more traditional.  As I teach my students the skills they need to use Google Drive Apps I  must balance the need for an authentic literacy experience with the need to teach my students HOW to use these tools.  When I introduced Google Draw I found it necessary to let my third graders just play with the app for a period, similar to letting students play with math manipulatives before using them as a math tool.

Creating authentic literacy lessons that really help my students grow as readers and writers is a challenge, no matter the tool, digital or otherwise.  (I had a moment, actually several, where I thought, "These people already have the traditional reading workshop down! What the heck!  Where have I been?") But seriously, I am a work in progress when it comes to finding ways for students to respond personally and thoughtfully to text.  I do think digital tools help make it more authentic.

We are picky about the books we bring into the classroom library so we must be picky about the digital text and tools we introduce too.  This is one of my favorite quotes from the book so far!
My district recently purchased a subscription to an online program that provides leveled texts for students to read online.  I think teachers can also print out some books too.  Students have their own accounts and can take reading quizzes as well.  I have to be honest and say that this program disturbs me just a bit. Is it the quizzes?  Probably?  Is it the leveled texts?  Maybe.  As I've said before I have limited access to computers so I haven't used the program yet. Is this really authentic reading?  How can I use this program in an authentic manner?  I would love to hear your opinion.

Thoughts on Digital Tools
Bev Gallagher's poetry experience reminded me that I have used Audioboom with my personal iPad even though I don't have wireless in my I need to explore this tool more.

Cryslyn reminded me that I need to use digital tools more often to build background for my third graders.  I have begun, but there is so much more I can be doing.  I show videos to introduce lessons but I think it might be important to start modeling how to listen and take notes when using video.  This part is very exciting! We do not have a science or social studies text so this seems like a perfect place to add more digital text and video.

Judy Johnson's lesson on critical thinking and evaluating websites was fabulous and hilarious! Where was she when I needed her this last winter? My one foray into research using Google was unsuccessful to say the least.  I really didn't even know how to narrow down my lessons.  I wanted them to know that all websites were not created equal, but how to do that with third graders?  I finally gave up.  Judy has given me some new ideas to think about.

Franki talked about curating collections of digital media for students.  I have used Padlet to collect websites and videos for a unit on the Water Cycle.  I want to explore Symbaloo now!  I think this idea could be a great way to use my limited computer access.

I also loved how Scott Jones uses Padlet for Read Alouds.  I think Padlet could be a great tool for me to expand upon.  It's important to choose tools that have wide uses especially when technology is limited in the classroom.

SHARED READING:  I do it a lot.  In fact this is the main way my students see digital text.  This weeks reading reinforced how powerful shared reading can be for my students.  I got so many ideas for modeling how to read digital text.  I also realized that I needed to start modeling how to understand all types of digital media.

Franki is amazing.  How she created her unit on communities was amazing... so much depth.

Connections - putting it all together and sharing it.  Isn't that the final part of reading?  But so many students don't understand that.  Most only learn that when you are done reading you take a test.  Just connecting a few times outside the classroom can open so many new doors for students.  I have begun making connections outside the classroom as a whole class community.  I would love to  find more ways to do this.

So much to think about with this week's reading!


  1. Hi Debra,

    You have given me much to think about! I was most interested in your section about the leveled reading program: Is this really authentic reading? How can I use this program in an authentic manner? I am glad to see these questions! I try and teach my graduate students to be critical consumers of the materials they bring into the classroom. We might have reservations about a tool or a program, but if we focus on our goal and purpose first, we might find an authentic use for even the most unauthentic resource (such as leveled books read only to take a quiz!). You might find some students actually like to use this resource for reading fiction texts, some might like to search the books for an appropriate non-fiction piece for research and some might not use it at all. You might use it for shared reading on a topic or to pull a book for guided reading. If we model the authentic choices we have with the tool, we can see the possibilities for using, not requiring, it in the classroom and help students make those intentional decisions as well.


    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts Stephanie. I work so hard to get books for my classroom library that it initially frustrated me that we purchased this program, especially when we have limited access to computers to use the program. But after this week's reading I realized that by not using it I was taking away choice from my students. Your ideas have been very helpful.

  2. It's all about purpose and meaning, isn't it Debra?

    I liked Franki's Community "Digital Text Set", too! In fact, I may borrow it at the beginning of the school year :) What an authentic, intentional, and connected way to start the year!!!

    Thanks for your insights!!!

    1. Yep, I think I will be borrowing Franki's lesson too!

    2. If not the exact lesson, I'll borrow the thinking behind it -- the powerful ways students connect to and respond to visuals.

  3. Debra,

    I too am a work in progress. That is just a delightful way to phrase it!

    This is a great analogy "When I introduced Google Draw I found it necessary to let my third graders just play with the app for a period, similar to letting students play with math manipulatives before using them as a math tool." We tend to be more relaxes about "playing" with manipulatives, over computer apps or software, but the idea is the same.

    I don't know the online level text program your school bought, but could you provide an opportunity for the students to "play" within it? Maybe make is a scavenger hunt in which students need to find a text they think their reading partner/buddy would like. To be able to do that, they would have to get to know their partner fairly well. What do you think?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

  4. Debra,
    You've shared so much thinking here. You reminded us about Bass & Sibberson's statement, "We are picky about the books we bring into the classroom library so we must be picky about the digital text and tools we introduce too." I think this is an important one for us to consider. There are many digital texts becoming available --- some are authentic...and some not so much. Of course, this often comes back to the user and the way we introduce texts to students. This seems to be true whether we're talking about print or digital texts.

    Like you, I enjoyed taking the steps into the classrooms of other teachers working to learn the how to supporting digital literacy in their classrooms. So many possibilities...


  5. Wow--so much to think about. I continue to be amazed at how much I am learning and thinking from everyone's posts. We have a few of those "leveled" sites too and I find when they are embedded with the good stuff and when I don't mention or focus on the quizzes, kids use them pretty authentically. I had to look past some of the not-so-quality stuff to see some good in the sites. I feel like those things make it a bit harder, as you mention--the quizzes especially! Hoping to do a better job of figuring that piece out this year.

  6. I'm also realizing that I must do a better job sharing information about authentic reading with my parents. If I expect my students to connect at home I need their support. Often my students have come back to school disappointed because they couldn't figure out how to "get on" the particular site or digital tool we had used in school. I was so excited that they had tried, but could see how frustrated they were!