Friday, August 13, 2010

Reference List


Bauerlein, M. (2010). The new bibliophobes. The dumbest generation: How the
digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future. Retrieved
from Educational Horizons, Infohio Database, EBSCO Host.

Carr, N. (2008). Is Google making us stupid: what the internet is doing to our
brains.” The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Cohen, V. (2006). Strategies for comprehending electronic text in digitally
mediated times. Current development in technology-assisted education,
170-174. Retrieved from

Corio, J. (2005). Making sense of online text. Educational leadership, 63(2), 30-35.

Gupta, A. & Ndahi, H. (2002). Meeting the digital literacy needs of a growing

workforce. The reading matrix, 2(1). Retrieved from

Kelly, K. (2010). From print to pixels. Smithsonian, 41(4), 122-128.

Kol, S. & Schcolnik, M. (2000). Enhancing screen reading strategies. Computer
assisted language instruction consortium journal, 18(1), 67-80.

Kolonay, D. & Kelly-Garris, K. (2009) The reading ready brain. Principal leadership

Rowsell, J. & Burke, A. (2009). Reading by design: two case studies of digital
reading practices. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(2) 108-118.

Vacca, R. & Vacca, J. (2005). Content area reading: Literacy and learning across
the curriculum. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Walsh, M., Asha, J. & Sprainger, N. Reading digital texts. Australian journal of
language and literacy, 30(1), 40-53.

Wolf, M. and Barzillai, M. (2009). The importance of deep reading. Educational leadership, 66(6), 32-37.

Teaching/Learning Strategies for Digital Literacy

Some Thoughts on Digital Literacy:
•Actual reading skills like decoding remain the same and are not often the issues when using the internet.

•Struggling readers will however have more issues due to the level of difficulty of the text, attention monitoring and the sheer overwhelming amount of information.

•Reading is not naturally occurring like walking or talking it has to be learned. The brain creates circuits and connections for reading that have to be learned.

•Students must construct meaning from what they read but will need some scaffolding strategies along the way.

•Students need to practice these strategies in order to be proficient

•Digital Literacy is a must today in order to be a literate adult.

•Advantages of using digital resources are huge! Level of motivation and understanding is high when using digital text, jobs of the future will require our students to be digital literate, the amount of resources is endless, resource currency beats out books (). Get expert resources from the expert no matter where they are. Access to information 24/7.
• Ability to create, produce and respond is essential to future communications

Databases—set up classes on databases. Advantages over “googling”:
•Geared toward research
•Often display reading level or lexile level
•Limited advertising
•Limited distractions
•Organized for easy navigation
•Often data bases that have been purchases have been looked at by educators—reading level documented and age appropriate

Internet Research—set up a series of classes on:
Activate prior knowledge—see what students know—use a Quick Write on researching vocabulary.

Class on basics of searching (vocabulary)—Browser, Search Engine, Website, Webpage, URL, Domain Name, Domain Extensions

Website Class—Home page, navigation, links, using Text Structure (bold terms, highlighted terms, headings, subheadings—compare to same strategies when reading print. Compare Skimming and Scanning strategies. Show how to use “Find” feature.

Use Think-Aloud Approach/Self Talk—model your approach

Internet Results List
Search Words and Key Words—spend time using different synonyms for search words
•What information contain in a “Results List”
•Read information under one result, think about what it is telling you, predict if you will be able to use it
•How many results are there? Can this be narrowed through Boolean Operators, changing keywords, search by site:--limiting your domain extensions

Website Evaluation Class—accuracy, reliability, validity, objectivity
•Use bogus sites for students to evaluate
•Use the Stop, Think and Predict strategy
•Lots of hands on experience
•Don’t teach in isolation—apply to some actual research

Purposeful Reading
—what can we do to help students?
•Purpose for research is it clear, have student generate Essential Question, does each article Connect to essential questions
•Note taking strategies—discourage copy and paste or printing
•Use Graphic Organizers or Outlines for note taking—teach how to use a few different kinds
Synthesize without copying (have a class on plagiarism)
Pre-read Strategies¬—look at the big picture of the website—can I read and understand this site after using scanning, skimming etc.
Post-read Strategies—can I Summarize what I just read? Do summarizing activities.

Research Topic—we can’t send students blindly into uncharted waters
•Students need some Background Information before researching a new topic. An introductory class on vocabulary or key concepts
•Have student form essential question and understand purpose of research (not just to write a paper—what they will be learning and applying)
•Can use strategies like OPIN, Magic Squares, Word Sorts, List-Group-Label, Concept Circles etc. prior to research
Processing Skills—construction of meaning
Attention Monitoring—monitoring their own ability to not be drawn away from purpose of researching by: animations, pop-ups, advertising, hypertext links
•Decision Making Skills
•Executive Skills¬—judgments, decision making etc.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Four Great Questions!

Julie Coiro (2005) in her article, Making Sense of Online Text, focuses on the literacy skills of locating, understanding and using information that is found on the Internet. She feels that digital literacy requires new literacy skills that need to be taught to all students. Struggling readers will encounter even more issues as they try to become proficient Internet readers because they tend to be more passive and have less prior knowledge to build on (2005). Corio, states the importance of digital reading is, “Because today’s students need to become proficient in using information and communication technologies to succeed both in school and in a knowledge economy, educators will need to consider how to teach and assess online reading” (2005). Many states use the NCLB technology framework but there are no states who currently assess online reading in their high stakes testing.

Reflection & Application: This article focused on four great questions that students should be asking themselves: which link should I follow, how do I navigate within a website, how do I know this is true and how do I synthesize without coping?

I would concur with Coiro that the first problem students encounter is which link should I click on from the long list of search results. I don’t think most middle school students even look at the information that follows the title of the link. She recommended a “stop, think and make predictions (2005)” approach. Students can look at the file extension, the topic, the purpose, the creator, the audience before they click on anything else.

I know my students do not do that and I will adopt her approach which sets the stage for clicking on the website and scan for text structures like headings, bold print etc. She has seven strategies for making a decision about a webpage (2005):
1. Read the title of the page
2. Scan menu choices—to get the big picture
3. Made predictions about where the links will take you
4. Explore interactive features
5. Identify the creator
6. How is this website set up---home page, linked pages
7. Make a judgement to go further or move on to another site
It is important often times to model this process, try it in groups before expecting students to do it independently.

Looking at the question of reliability and validity of sites she does a procedure similar to mine. I have a checklist that we use to check for reliability and validity. I use them on bogus sites, starting with ones that are pretty believeable like Dog Island Forever, California Velcro Crop and then to the more absurd ones like Northwest Tree Octopus and the Deflector Beanies. Most times student catch on pretty quickly that you can not believe everything you read!

The last question was an interesting on for me—how do I synthesize without copying? She allows them to open up a word document to copy and paste text citing the URL. I find that approach is kind of dangerous, students can’t remember what is copied and what they authored—too easy to plagiarize. I think I would ask them to set up a graphic organizer or make summaries along the way using text structures like headings or bold words.

I agree that Corio captured the four most important questions students need to be asking themselves and she has great strategies for both students and teachers. We are in the digital age and we need to make sure our students are equipped with 21st century skills when using the Internet to obtain information. Now we have to figure out how to assess online reading skills!

Reference: Corio, J. (2005). Making sense of online text. Educational leadership, 63(2)pp. 30-35.

How Sad, Books Will Not be Center Stage!

This article is a study between print and digital text using comprehension measure at the end of a semester. This study was done at the collegiate level with a control group who did all their reading from printed text and the experimental group who received training with online tools to assist them in reading online.

Literature search showed some studies had already been done on the length of time, which showed that print text was faster to read than digital and reading comprehension and speed, which found no significant difference between the two.

This study by Kol & Schcolnik (2000) focused on the giving students the following skills: Using the find feature, highlighter, hyperlinked outline to scan better, skim better and close-read better than those students reading from print.
Their hypotheses were that those strategies would allow them to read better or at least as well as those students reading from print text. (Scan better and skim and close-read as well as print) They defined the following terms, “scanning is defined as quickly looking over a text to locate specific pieces of information by using the find feature of the word processor,” “skimming as reading the hyperlinked outline provided, clicking the outline to access specific sections of the text, quickly reading and highlighting those sections, and scrolling to read the highlighted sections to get the main ideas,” and “close reading is reading intensively to comprehend ideas, logical relationships and /or fine points” (2000).

The same text on brain research from a journal was used to test student’s comprehension. Both used same text font, same size, same color and same color background. The layouts were different the digital study used hypertext links and the print was the entire article. The results were that students did skim better and close read digitally but they did not scan better. The find feature in the end did not help them scan better.

Reflection: Interesting study at the collegiate level but what I take away from this article is the importance of teaching skimming, scanning as pre-reading strategies and the need to find skills to help them read more deeply for comprehension.

Well I am not throwing my books away yet based on this article but I might look into non-fiction eBooks because what I find is the non-fiction especially in science and technology are almost dated when we put them on the shelves and if at the secondary level they can read digital text (not Internet text) as well as print text then it might make sense to have only what is current—who wants to use outdated research!

Kol, S. & Schcolnik, M. (2000). Enhancing screen reading strategies. Computer
Assisted Language Instruction Consortium Journal
, 18(1), pp. 67-80.

How Do You Interact With the Information on the Internet?

Confused and overwhelmed, that is how many students feel when we ask them to read and comprehend what they find on the Internet. Vicki L. Cohen (2006) who has written, Strategies for Comprehending Electronic Text in Digitally Mediated Times, states, “This type of reading and writing is complex, can promote higher order thinking, and can foster complex reading and writing useful in the world of work or global communication.” We need to teach new ways of interacting with the information that we are asking students to read. Skills needed are ones that go beyond what they have learned for reading linear/print text.

This article focuses on four key areas of digital text: Nonlinear hypertext, multiple-media text, interactive texts and online communication text. Inferential reasoning and context clues are needed when reading this nonlinear text. Hyperlinks can carry you away, do you want to go there? Can you find your way back? Students get to control their own destiny when Internet searching. Next, students will encounter graphics, pictures, animation, ads (lots of ads), icons, audio clips, video clips, and text of all different sizes, color and shapes quite different from black print on white page. Can students take in all these multiple-media texts? Will their attention be diverted from what is important to what is entertaining? Students today get to interact with what they are reading through blogs, wikis, discussion boards, glogs---they read, they can respond and they can create. Tough part of all of that is “self-monitoring” do they understand the author and how to appropriately responding? Lastly, the online communication networking text IM’s, chats, phone texts are they self monitoring, can they decipher a new casual type of text, do they know how to read the “affect” of the author. Do students know how to respond when they barely know how to read face to face nonverbal language? Many questions arise when we switch from print to screen text.

Cohen (2006) lists eleven behaviors that are displayed often when children are Internet researching:
1. Preference for browsing rather than entering a keyword, and conducting a
2. Difficulty in formulating keywords for a search.
3. Limited exploration; much use of well-known websites.
4. Little patience.
5. Difficulty with large amounts of text.
6. Tendency to focus on collecting factual knowledge than answering more conceptual
abstract questions.
7. Tendency to search for one correct answer.
8. Little attention to reading and processing of information.
9. Tendency to change the search questions when literal answer is not found.
10.Difficulty assessing the relevance of information found on the Internet.
11.Difficulty in assessing reliability of information found on the internet.
These behaviors are seen in elementary through college students. So these are the behaviors that need to be addressed in order to develop good digital readers.

Reflection: What is really great about this article is that it not only talked about the differences between print and digital text reading and behaviors often demonstrated by student but it also looked at solutions.
This author feels that digital reading strategies need to be taught. Strategies like:
•Graphic organizers--help students construct knowledge
•Write out their “essential question”—look at each sites relevance to their question
to help keep students on track
•Navigation skills—young students may need help how to navigate through everything
that is visible on their screen
•Pre-read strategy—first can they read and understand the information? Skim over
the headings and decide if you can tell what the main idea of the website is
•Post-read strategy—can you summarize what you read?
•“Synthesizing: The student must not only identify the main idea but generate new
theories of how this information applies to their topic” (2006).

I think this article hit the nail on the head for me! The behaviors that the author listed are exactly what I have witnessed with 7th and 8th graders at my school! What am I going to do about it? I need to break down these behaviors into classes or mini-lessons that focus on strategies for reading on the Internet.

Cohen, V. (2006). Strategies for comprehending electronic text in digitally mediated times. Current development in technology-assisted education, p. 170-174. Retrieved from

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A-literacy and E-literacy is there a difference?

There was a catchy title to this article and so I decided to check it out and once again there are scary statistics in this article I just can’t pass up! This article points out that young adults of today are not reading for pleasure and books are not the choice way to get information. Then what is to become of the profession that I am just now entering---Media Specialist?

The New Bibliphobes, a chapter written by Mark Bauerlein (2010) states that, “a-literacy is defined as knowing how to read, but choosing not to” is catching on amongst young adults. He quotes a study done in 2002 that only 43% of 18-24 year olds had read any “work of poetry, fiction or drama in the preceding year.” This is a 17% drop from the same study done in 1982 (2010). Bauerlein feels there are more “diversions” than in previous years. Young adults are spending more time on computers, video games and phones than ever before. The amount of time on social networking is a staggering 9 hours per week (2010). He feels they have a quicker attention span and they are multitaskers which take very little time to just sit down and read a book for a couple of hours. E-literacy has taken over but that it is just the quick fix for instant answers without having to remember anything because you can just pull it up again when you need it! Therefore, even though they are “reading more” digitally their knowledge and skills have not risen accordingly “(2010). A Strong American Schools Report shows, that 43 % of 2-year college students and 29 % of four-year college students end up in a remedial class in reading, writing or math”(2010).

Reflection: So what we need among young adults is a change of attitude. They need to embrace books, reading for pleasure and capitalize on what print resources have to offer. I suspect that although they may be reading a lot on the internet—they are like my 7th and 8th graders—just superficial knowledge. So maybe a-literacy and e-literacy are one in the same!

Reference: Bauerlein, M. (2010). The new bibliophobes. The dumbest generation: How the digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future. Retrieved from Educational Horizons, Infohio Database, EBSCO Host.

People of the Screen

Okay, this article does not have much to do about digital literacy, regarding how we read, but it was extremely entertaining and amusing, so I have included some great facts that really do matter to digital literacy.

Kevin Kelly (2010) states in his article, From Print to Pixels, “as digital screens proliferate, people are reading a whole new way” the written word has moved off the printed page and on to all kinds of screens. In today’s world people are reading from somewhere around 4.5 billion screens (2010). These screens are on televisions, cell phones, computers (laptops, iPads, netbooks), gaming systems, and music devices. “Right now ordinary citizens compose 1.5 million blog posts a day” and “young people around the world collectively write 12 billion quips per day from their phones.” That is a lot of reading and writing!

The author does a great job at looking at the history of the written word and how it has changed our lives but no print sources have infiltrated our lives like screen reading. There are screens in many rooms of our houses, throughout our schools, and mobile screens that we carry around with us where we go. Even billboards have been replaced by screens on highways, sports arenas and on the sides of buildings.

Kelly states, “Books were good at developing a contemplative mind. Screens encourage a more utilitarian thinking” (2010). The world is at our fingertips 24/7. It is a different way of reading—print is coming off the page but a screen is hitting you with all kinds of hypermedia in all different directions.

Kelly concludes, “Last year alone, five quintillion transistors were embedded into objects other than computers” and “screens will be the first place we will look for friends, for news, for meaning, for our sense of who we are and who we can be” (2010).

Reflection: Well hang onto your hats and get ready for the ride of your life! Digital reading is going to be essential for being a literate adult. Students will need, at a very young age make sense of what they see and what they read because it will not be in a book that they carry around with them it will be on screens everywhere they look.

Kelly, K. (2010). From print to pixels. Smithsonian, 41(4), 122-128.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maybe it’s all about vocabulary?

Vacca & Vacca (2005) in their book, Reading in the Content Areas, state, “There is a strong connection between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension. So when students are reading text with no understanding of the concepts they will not be able to fully understand what they are reading.

This chapter in the book focused on how teachers can use concept mapping, OPIN, magic squares, word exploration, brainstorming, list-group-label, word sorts, concept circle and modified cloze passages to help with the concepts. Teaching vocabulary words also helps students to make connections to what they already know to what they will encounter as they read/research.

Reflection: This was like a light bulb moment for me! How often do we give students a research project to which they really know nothing or very little about? Perhaps we need to give some basic vocabulary first so that as they encounter these new words they will be able to make better sense of what they are reading. The other thing that comes to mind is when they are internet searching how many times are they reading articles way above their reading level (especially if the content is new to them!) This I have known for a long time and this is a frequent complaint by students! If it is too hard they just keep moving from one article to the next. When I start off an Internet Project with students I tell them they should start off in the databases available to them. We have Destiny Online Library Catalog that has a WebExpress feature. So if students are searching for sharks they will only get the ones swimming in the ocean and not the loan sharks. The websites are all looked at by educators and have either K-5, 6-9 or 10-12 grade level next to the article so students can make sure they will be able to read the article. Some databases such as INFOhio allow students to search by grade level and some are even lexiled.
So vocabulary is important---for many reasons but especially when students are reading digitally!

Vacca, R. & Vacca, J. (2005). Content area
reading: Literacy and learning across the curriculum.
New York, NY:
Prentice Hall.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's All About Plasticity!

The Reading Ready Brain (2009) mainly focused on how to help struggling readers. The correlation was made between poor reader’s drop-out rate and behavior problems. Which is not really any new information but the article focused on a technology program called Fast ForWord, a reading intervention software package from Scientific Learning, that allowed students of any age to build cognitive skills.

Again this article focused on the brain’s plasticity. The brain has the capability to learn at any age, so that if students miss out in elementary school there is still time to learn at the secondary level because they brain continues to learn throughout our entire lives.

This software is based on 30 years of neuroscience research and focused on building the following cognitive skills: memory, attention, processing rate and sequencing. These skills not only help when reading but learning as well. This software developed “computer-based brain fitness exercises” (52) which not only improved their reading but their motivation, attitude and behavior changed as they had success in reading.

Reflection: The two cognitive skills that I was interested in were attention and processing rate. These are two areas that have been identified in many articles so far. This software helped students to focus on information and tasks and ignore distractions (51) to gain better attention. It also addressed processing rate, “the rate at which a student is able to accurately perceive and manipulate information” (51) which is also critical in digital reading. It looks like they have had a lot of success with this program because it does focus on the basic cognitive skills. We know that in order to learn and remember that we need to build on prior knowledge. If students do not have that prior knowledge or skills we are only building frustration when it comes to reading. Again, it all about plasticity!


Kolonay, D. & Kelly-Garris, K. (2009) The reading ready brain. Principal Leadership 48-53.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Anime and WebKinz to evaluate reading?

At first look this article appears to be the perfect match to what I am researching! Only time will tell! This article premise is that if we want to know how to teach digital literacy we first need to understand the difference print and digital text. Authors, Rowsell & Burke (2009) will focus on the multimodal design and the reading path. Their goal is getting best practices for incorporating digital reading into the curriculum. An interesting point is that online reading is student/learner centered. It also describe as other resources have, of the advantages of the collaborative learning approach.

In the literature review, Mary McNabb (2006), from Literacy Learning in Networked Classrooms, describes three curriculum benefits of the Internet:
1) designing Internet-based activities to help meet the diverse of students by engaging them through personal interests, 2) customizing teaching-learning cycles in ways that motivate students, and 3) fostering self-directed learning (107)
These are very 21st century focused advantages of using Internet in the classroom with a focus on motivation and learner centered learning.

The information in this article is based on two case studies one a student who is struggling reader and the other who is very proficient at reading digital text. It is important first to define a couple of key terms that are the focus on this study. First, they define “multimodal” as “…the use of different modes of communication to create an effect” like the actions/gestures in an anime are as meaningful as the visuals and dialogues. “The point is the modes work in concert with one another.” (107) Next, the term “reading path”, which talks about how the reader looks at the text—where are they drawn to first, then where to next and finally where does the reader end up at (107). In printed text the reader can move around on the text but there are no real deviations from the printed page but digitally reading is “constructed” as the reader moves through the site. They also use the term metalanguage and multiliteracies—that we are not just dealing with text anymore but readers have visual modes and audio modes to deal with as well.
This study was conducted while the students were working on their computer. They used “stimulated recall” (108) which meant the students would talk aloud as they moved through websites. The researcher taped the student responses, had a follow-up interview and also interviewed participating teachers.

Peter is a 14 year old special education student who shows a high interest and motivation in digital worlds but who is a loner and is struggling in reading at school. He shared a very in depth knowledge of an anime characters, Yu-Gi-Oh cards and Lego Star Wars that he has gained from the internet. The other student is 13 year old, Patty, who is a straight A student and is very involved at school and in her spare time likes to take care of Webkinz virtual pets.

To analyze their reading they used a Multimodal Framework that included looking at four steps: discourse, design, production and distribution, which allow these authors to analyze and understand multimodal text. (110)
The researchers looked at two websites of the student’s choice. Peter’s website is “Naruto which carries a storyline and can be viewed as a televisual online text or a videogame.” Patty’s is Webkinz “which is an interactive site where users find an online identity and community through their stuffed animal avatars.” (110) Their analysis of Peter was that he “can decode, and he understands plot, setting, characterization. He builds on prior knowledge to understand other, related texts and uses design principles to understand the plot. Peter is a capable reader in this setting, yet he continues to underachieve in his school reading assignments. Patty excelled in site where she can play games, win Kinzcash, design, advertise, build, shop and care for virtual pets. Patty showed frequently how she used prior knowledge and new knowledge to construct her virtual world. (115) The reading that these students did on these websites made reading more real to them, thus engagement. Patty was able to take the knowledge and decision making skills used at her site to apply to real world (probably adult level) situations.

It was concluded that digital reading is very complex—decoding may be the same for both but educators need to “understand the design inherent in digital texts, one comes closer to bridging the gap between the digital realm of literacy and the traditional.” (117)

Reflection: Okay so this wasn’t the perfect article but it does draw my awareness that students have to take in a lot more than just text when they read online. These websites, although they were games and an interactive site, show me the huge impact that students are not just reading anymore they are doing constructing of new knowledge on many levels. I don’t think this is happening to the same degree when reading text. Another important point I take away from this article is that the level of understanding and motivation is very high using digital text.

Rowsell, J. & Burke, A. (2009). Reading by design: two case studies of digital reading practices. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(2) 108-118.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can We Teach How to Read Digitally?

This is a qualitative research study (Walsh, Asha & Sprainger, 2007) focused on looking at the differences between reading print text and digital text. The study examines how students read and navigate digital text and when students are taught a “metalanguage of visual grammar” (40) does it allow them to discuss and understand digital text better? They cite it is important to study this because there may need to be new theory and pedagogy developed for students to read and fully understand digital text.

Literature review: Looked at the advantages of digital text: The use of visuals, graphics, images, sound assisted students in skills of “prediction, comprehension, and vocabulary knowledge” (42) which greatly enhance reading skills. Disadvantages is that students were then always looking for that assistance from digital text and they were distracted by games, animations etc. What was agreed on is that studies need to be specific, in order to develop strategies for reading digital text.
Study: This would not be able to be generalized due to the small number in this study, however important information was gathered on the way students navigate and read on screen! Also they established methodology for making observations of students who were digitally reading.

Teachers from 5 different schools paired up with another teacher and made observations of primary grade students, in small groups, reading digital text. This study had 3 stages. Stage 1 observed and videotaped students as they read and navigated a WebQuest (all non-fiction). Stage 2: Teachers were taught what was called, “metalanguage of visual grammar” which explained terms and vocabulary like “use of color, angles, perspective framing, salience, vectors, reading pathway…” (43). Stage 3: Was then teaching this “visual grammar” to the test group of students and then record observations again.

Observations were recorded in four different areas which are Luke and Freebody’s four reading practices (43). They were looking at: Coding Practice, Semantic Practice, Pragmatic Practice and Critical Practice. Coding looked at navigation of websites—did they know how to decode information on search engines, website home pages—generally moving from page to page. Semantic Practice looked at “drawing on background knowledge, different levels of understanding and making intertextual links.” (43) The Pragmatic Practice was looking at the social purpose of digital text. Critical Practice was using the visual grammar when talking about the digital text.

Results: That digital text is highly motivating and students used basic techniques for navigating but “their reading responses and understanding seemed to be at a literal, often superficial, level with little evidence of inferring, evaluating or critical thinking.” (51) The conclusion ended with there is much study that needs to be done in regards to transfer on knowledge from print to digital.

Reflection: The terms that they were using to record observations were new to me so I spent some time looking up information to see what kind of information was being collected. Although they taught this visual grammar to students and some students were able to use some of these same terms--there was not much difference in the actual depth of reading and understanding digitally. Since they were primary grade students perhaps they are not ready for some of the more abstract ideas and terms since they still operate under a fairly concrete idea scheme.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Okay, I Confess!

I am confessing now that I am printing all articles and research studies that are over 2 or 3 pages long!

So why do I do that? Is it because I am a “digital immigrant” and am not used to reading on screen? Perhaps it is because I have a short attention span and need to walk away and come back? What I do know is that I like to highlight main points and quotes that I want to use. Sometimes I like to write reflections in the margins of the paper. I tend to have visual/kinesthetic learning style. I learn best by doing and making connections then I am definitely a visual over an auditory learner. I feel highlighting helps me to read deeper and come away with a better understanding/comprehension. Okay, so I can highlight digital text too! But for me it is just not the same—I like the physical part of highlighting.

I guess I can never go all the way green with this obsession of having to print all lengthy articles! So, a question I am asking myself is---even if I teach great strategies for reading digital text---will there be some students who will need to print? What about students with learning disabilities? What will be the best strategies for them?

I know that technology rocks my world! I could not live without email, texting, having immediate information available to 24/7 but yet I still wonder how much I am really absorbing. I chuckled when I read the article, Is Google Making Us Stupid? Just after speed dial came out, I put my kids and others who I call frequently in speed dial. Then when I lost my phone (just misplaced it—really) I had no idea what anyone’s phone number was—I had not written them anywhere so I was really at a loss---I kept thinking how stupid is that? I can remember old phone numbers from 40 years ago, yet I couldn’t reach my kids because I put them in speed dial. So knowing that I can always look something up online keep me from deep understanding? I think that might be part of the issue!

I am so enjoying researching this topic! 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

This article focuses on what the internet is doing to our brains—not with children but in well educated adults. Nicholas Carr (2009) states, “The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.” He cites that he reads differently online but because it makes his job infinitely easier he uses it on a regular basis. “And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.” He states he can concentrate on long pieces of writing because he thinks his mind is looking for quick bits of information coming at you in a steady stream. A doctor who is on the Faculty at Michigan Medical School agrees with Carr and says he now “skims” and often “bounces” to another site after skimming or after reading 3 or 4 paragraphs.

Carr feels that there are new forms of reading emerging like “power browsing” but even more significant we are developing new ways to think. It is this author contention that the device we use for the written language shapes reading as well. Written, typed and now word processing reprograms our reading circuits. “Yet, for all that’s been written about the Net, there’s been little consideration of how exactly, it’s reprogramming us.”(5)

When he examines what is different it the “efficiency” and “immediacy”, the hyperlinks, blinking ads, animations, and the list goes on and on. So now the brain reacts differently and deep reading is not occurring.

The New York Times has reported that on pages 2 and 3 there are now article abstracts—so that readers don’t have to read the whole article but will still have the news they need to know (“and won’t have to flip the pages”). So this phenomenon of “Net Reading” is spreading back into written text.

Google has declared its mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Google seems to be telling us that our brains is like an outdate computer and we better get a “faster processor and a bigger hard drive.” This world of the Net is not geared to go at a leisurely pace—it is to go at the speed of light and we better learn to adapt or else we will be left behind.
So what will be lost is the contemplation—our ability to connect, to have original thoughts is gone and with it the ability to deep think. Carr contemplates our brains will someday be artificial intelligence?

Reflection: After recently weeding non-fiction books I had a parent volunteer ask me why I was getting rid of some of these perfectly good books (albeit they were a little old)—my reply was—students will not pick up these books. They will not like to see data/facts hidden in chapters. They want short chunky articles, chapters that have a lot of subheadings and not long in length. So I think that the “Net” now influences the print industry and dictates what kinds of books that students will read. From this article, it is what well educated adults want as well. So what strategies will I need to start focusing on? The immediacy, how to focus and stay on track when reading, how to develop skills to deep read—perhaps some reflection or summary activities that will allow student to think and assimilate what they have read.

Carr, N. (2008). Is Google making us stupid: what the internet is doing to our brains.” The Atlantic. Retrieved from

Monday, July 19, 2010

Can We Get By Without Being Digital Literate?

Certainly students today could graduate from high school without being digital literate so how can we make digital literacy a priority for students and for school districts. In a 2002 study by Gupta and Ndahi they state, “About 22% of adults currently entering the labor market possess the technology skills that are required for 60% of new jobs.” (1) The focus of this article was on training the trainer to bring skill base up-to-date.

This was not a lengthy article but I was looking for statistics on jobs and technology. The statistic caught my eye. I highly suspect since 2002 there are many more advances in technology and the numbers might look really different again today if they were to do their study again. Also I would think we would begin to see some “Digital Natives” arriving to the workforce. The “natives” coming into the workforce may change how companies use technology.

I remember once hearing that we are preparing students in school today for jobs that don’t even exist yet! In any case employers are looking for employees that not only can use software but that they are digital literate—they know how to find information, they know what to do with it and how to creative, market, respond, analyze and evaluate it.

So I suppose you could get by without being digital literate but expect that you will be beat out of jobs that have qualified digital literate applicants.

Gupta, A. & Ndahi, H. (2002). Meeting the digital literacy needs of a growing workforce. The Reading Matrix, 2(1). Retrieved from

Digital Sources Destroying Our Minds?

The authors, Wolf and Barzillai (2009) in their article, “The Importance of Deep Reading,” define deep reading as, “the array of sophisticated processes that propel comprehension and that include inferential and deductive reasoning, analogical skills, critical analysis, reflection and insight.” They talk about an “expert reader” can do all of these processes in milliseconds but a student it takes many years to develop these skills. So does today’s society of instant gratification, “immediacy”, “information loading” and a process that basis is speed allow as the authors say enough time for “deliberation in both reading and thinking.”

So the real question is--will digital reading change how we read and think? There are certainly huge advantages of digital information—the world is at our fingertips. I can’t remember who said there is a limited number of things that you need to learn today but one thing you must learn is how to find the information you need to know. The disadvantages? That is what I am about to explore and what strategies need to be put in place so that we are engaging our digital readers in “deep reading”.

I had to laugh when the article parallels this dilemma with the Ancient Greeks. The Greeks were distraught over the written word. “Socrates cautioned society against learning to read.” (2009, Wolf p. 33) He has worried that the written word would change memory and how we internalize information. There is a lot written about higher level thinking in today’s education literature. How do students make deep connections—by analysis, synthesizing, debating, evaluating etc. so there just might be something to Socrates’ caution! LOL

Next, these authors explored how the brain works when we read. It is truly miraculous that we can read at all when you look at all the processes and all the parts of the brain that used when we read. This article explores that our mind was not born to read (like we see, speak, move and think) it has to be developed. The brain has to create “circuits and connections” which means that our brain can go beyond itself (which is really mind blowing thought). The key to reading is “plasticity, which allows the brain to form new connections among structures underlying vision, hearing, cognition, and language.” (p. 34)
All different parts of the brain are used for different parts of reading like phonemes and visual letter symbols in the temporal and parietal regions. But what is really crazy is that for Chinese reading the characters are stored in the occipital lobe. So that our brains can adapt to the type of reading that we are doing. Now let’s add on the comprehension piece of reading—this is a process of building knowledge—“readers must engage in an active construction of meaning, in which they grapple with the text and apply earlier knowledge as they question, analyze, and probe.”(34) So now readers are building knowledge and going beyond the thoughts of the words that they are reading. This is called the Proustian Principle. The authors said, “This requires a great amount of attention, effort, motivation, active imagination, and time—time for the reader and time for the brain, a few hundred milliseconds…” (34) So when you get to this deep level of reading all four lobes of the brain have become involved.

“What we read and how deeply we read shape both the brain and the thinker.”(35) They go on to say that any reading circuit can occur, even some that only use part of the brain’s potential.

This article provided a look at many possible gains for students using digital resources:
• Digital has the potential to help students analyze, locate, critically
evaluate many data rich sites
• Allows students to respond and get feedback from others
• Great potential for communication, collaboration and creating
• Allows for discovery learning
• Very accessible
• Potential for enhancing comprehension, vocabulary and background information
• Since digital literacy is constantly changing a digital learner will be a
good problem solver and a lifelong learner

What do we stand to lose?
• We can be creating multitaskers, with quick attention shifts, and who always
look for immediacy
• Deep reflection
• Original thinking

Where is the transition problem?
• Young students are no skilled in keyword searches, locating appropriate
resources and evaluating what they find which as Wolf and Barzillai state
that there will now be a higher need for skills, “decision making, attention
monitoring and executive skills.”
• The internet is often “uncensored, unedited, attention diverting with no
clear boundaries, standards and organization (36).
• We will need to teach them skills in how to self manage and monitor, to
navigate websites and databases
• Other skills needed will be how to evaluate credibility, validity, bias and
overall quality of the resource
• For some students the sheer number of sites or hyperlinks will overwhelm
them and distract them

When can we start teaching these transition skills? Wolf and Barzillai state that it can’t really happen until they are out of the concrete thinking stage. In order to evaluate information learners need to be establishing the difference between what is true/fact and what is not. So when we can begin to hit these skills hard would be middle school age learners.

They also allude to the fact that what causes not to “deep read” might also help us to develop these skills:
• Web Quests
• Online reading tutors
• Strategy prompts
• Models
• Think alouds
• Feedback
• Thinking Readers---scaffold understanding

My Reflection: That perhaps the same brain circuits are needed for reading but perhaps my strategies will need to be around evaluation, attention monitoring, keyword searching, dealing with the wealth of information etc. Interesting that this can not start until they move out of the concrete operational stage of development.

Wolf, M. and Barzillai, M. (2009). The importance of deep reading. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

My Experience

What I know after working with 7th and 8th graders for 10 years?• They want immediate gratification.
• If the online resource doesn’t answer their question in the first few
paragraphs they simply go to another article rather than read the entire
• They don’t skim the entire article—read headings
• They don’t evaluate validity or reliability
• They are easily distracted by advertising, animations, links
• They can’t tell the difference between personal, professional
• Wikipedia is always acceptable
• Difficult time with keyword searching, using Boolean operators
• They are not skilled at narrowing search
• They are not attentive to strategies that computer helps them with-----
• Many learners have never read thru an entire article
• Can’t tell you what the advantages of a database or internet search
• Many copy and paste
• Rote process—find the answer and write it down—no thinking
• Staff not skilled in asking the essential questions that make the students
collect data to support their answer
• They don’t apply the same skills in reading print text to digital text

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Digital Literacy Project

Summer Individual Investigation Program Statement
Summer 2010
Karen J. Reiber
Dr. Tim Rasinski
My Project: Digital Literacy
Background: I have spent the last 9 years working on information literacy skills (in the media center) with 7th and 8th graders in the middle school where I work and I have observed that students obtain information very differently from digital resources than print resources. Teachers teach students how to read from text books and other print sources but I have not observed anyone actually teaching strategies for reading from the internet or databases. What I have found 7th and 8th graders, although digital natives, lack in these literacy skills.
Goal: To formulate literacy strategies that I can teach staff and students to become more efficient and effective digital users.
I will review do a literature review, summarize at least 10 articles and post all sources that were reviewed.
I will keep a reflection journal (perhaps a blog) to post my thoughts and keep track of hours spent for this independent study.
I will come up with some teaching strategies for students and staff to use to increase their digital literacy skills.

Respectfully submitted,
Karen J. Reiber

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Digital Literacy

Dr. Rasinski I have set up this blog to fulfill requirements for independent study.