Come on Baby, Light My Fire (A New Era: e-Reading)

The definition of kindle means to start a fire, but to me it’s much more than starting a fire, my Kindle has ignited a new passion. I absolutely love my Kindle; I love how compact and lightweight it is, the ability to possess hundreds of books at my fingertips, and the convenience of a dictionary all in one device. Although there are many versions of digital readers, they each offer varying features and tools for the user (Larson, 2010).  As our society develops and becomes more technology advanced, so should our classrooms. Incorporating these new literacies such as e-Books and e-Reading into our weekly classroom routines is a step in the right direction. These new literacies, however, challenge our current definition of text which is “written messages and symbols in the forms of books, magazines, and newspapers” (Larson, 2009, p. 255). Texts today are more than “written words and images” (Larson, 2010) and include anything from written words to videos, speech, and images.

Larson (2009, 2010) states that:

…today’s readers are immersed in multimodal experiences and, consequently, have a keen awareness of the possibility of combining modes and media to receive and communicate messages. (p. 255, p. 15)

Most of our students have access to these multimodal experiences outside of school and are almost jaded to the traditional texts offered in school. As teachers we have to close this gap and start incorporating e-reading into our classroom routines. Not only are e-books “cooler” because students have the opportunity to interact with them on the computer or digital device, they offer many benefits to enhance the reading experience. These tools “invite the readers to physically interact with the text”  by allowing students to highlight, make notes or comments with the text, and even look words up in the dictionary (Larson, 2009). Students with special needs can also benefit from these tools, such as increasing the text size or text-to-speech (Larson, 2010).  These tools are fantastic for readers who are past the stage of decoding and are able to use them without losing much of the story. Younger readers do not have the capacity to comprehend the text as well as create notes and interact with the text digitally.

Wolf (2009) states:

For my greatest concern is that the young brain will never have the time (in milliseconds or in hours or in years) to learn to go deeper into the text after the first decoding, but rather will be pulled by the medium to ever more distracting information, sidebars, and now, perhaps, videos (in the new vooks).

Deep reading is something that needs to be taught to our students and with new media, we have to revamp our teaching or deep reading. I don’t think we should take away e-reading from our younger readers, but introduce and expose them to it in increments. These younger readers can be introduced gradually to all the tools e-reading has to offer and help them gain a better understanding of how to use the tools to assist their reading (and so would older readers). Highlighting a character’s name (Larson, 2009) is one way to start introducing tools to younger students as well as using the text-to-speech. One study conducted with two second graders reading on e-readers found that using the digital reading devices allowed the students “to engage with and greater control of the text than when reading printed text” (Larson, 2010, p. 17). The students were able to create notes as they were reading to specific portions of the text. When students read printed text, the majority of the time they have to put their notes on notebook paper and are unable to write in the school texts. Although notes are a great way to interact with text, being able to write directly on/next to a portion of text makes it easier to refer back and understand. The second grade students in the study did not use proper writing but focused on quick annotations “resulting in extensive use of invented spelling” (Larson, 2010, p. 17). In another study conducted by Larson (2009) fifth graders reading texts on a computer were found doing the same thing when note taking. I personally do not see a problem with using quick annotations when note taking because I feel adults do it all the time. Many times it’s easier to jot down a thought using abbreviations just to make sure the whole thought makes it, that is the point of note taking. Through their note taking, both the second graders and fifth graders showed involvement with the text (Larson, 2009, 2010). Other tools were taken advantage of by the students to help them understand the text, such as using the dictionary to read multisyllabic words because according to one of the second graders “the dictionary chunks the words for you so you can read them” (Larson, 2010, p. 20). These tools definitely need to be introduced to the students so they are aware of the possibilities on interacting and engaging with text when reading, “in addition to being perceived as fun and motivating” (Larson, 2009).

Personally, I prefer reading on my Kindle than a computer screen because the Kindle screen is more like reading a book. The screen isn’t lit from behind and it is easier on my eyes to stare at the Kindle screen for hours when compared to a computer screen. I love having the dictionary at my fingertips! Being able to just click on a work and without leaving the text, the definition shows at the top. For my classroom it is more feasible to use the computer lab than a non-existent class set of e-readers. I would love to have access to individual e-readers for my students for many reasons including the privacy of the digital reader. Many of my 6th graders are low readers, reading on a 2nd or 3rd grade level. These digital readers take away the fear of other students seeing that they are reading a “baby book” or book lower than the grade they are currently in. I support e-reading in the classroom because our students need to be exposed to new literacies in the school setting. Allowing students to explore the uses of e-reading on a computer helps guide them and develop a stronger understanding of how the tools available can enhance their reading.

Exploring some of the websites available for students exhibited some pros and cons. While looking at Toon Books I thought about my students and how they would love this website! I looked at Mo and Jo: Fighting Together Forever and Little Mouse. These books were interactive where the students could click on individual “speech bubbles” or have the entire page read aloud. This is a great feature, but while reading the level one book I felt the text was read rather quickly making it hard for a beginning reader to follow along. However, I do think students would enjoy the books. On We Give Books site I couldn’t believe the amount of books that were available and for such a great cause! I appreciated that you could make the book full screen and zoom in on text that might be difficult to read otherwise. Although this site did not have the text-to-speech feature, it would still be a wonderful tool for the classroom or even individual students. The Inanimate Alice site was very interesting and I can see where students would be intrigued. The moving background and text made it a little difficult to read, but I think my students would enjoy how parts of the story are interactive. The music/background noise was eerie and the story was different, but my students are attracted to the different. Overall, with my 6th graders I think I would use the We Give Books the most to enhance lessons. Honestly, anything we can use to get our students “hooked” on reading and light their fire is worth it.

“When a story takes you on a journey, hold on tight. You never know where it’s headed.” ~@Disney (Twitter)

 

References:

Haspiel, D. & Lynch, J. (2008). Mo and Jo: Fighting together forever. Retrieved from www.toon-books.com

Larson, L. C. (2010). Digital readers: The next chapter in e-book reading and response. Reading Teacher, 64(1), 15-22.

Larson, L. C. (2009). e-Reading and e-responding: New tools for the next generation of readers. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(3), 255-258.

Pearson Foundation. (2012). We give books. Retrieved from www.wegivebooks.org

Pullinger, K. & Joseph, C. (2011). Inanimate Alice. Retrieved from www.inanimatealice.com

Smith, J. (2009). Little mouse gets ready. Retrieved from www.toon-books.com

Wolf, M. (2009, October 14). Does the brain like e-books? Beyond decoding words. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/does-the-brain-like-e-books/#maryanne

 

 

Response to Deep Reading and Internet Inquiry

Why would novels be the only text that would engage deep reading? There are a multitude of texts out there that require you to think and connect as you read. Newspapers, journals, and scholarly articles, for example, are all types of texts that require deep thinking. In order to read deeply the mind needs to be free of processing the text and open to comprehending it. It’s difficult to understand something if it is full of words and phrases that the reader has no idea of the meaning. Once reader is able to read without struggling to find the meaning of a word, their mind is free to connect, question, and comprehend. These things lead to deep thinking, deeper understanding, and deep reading. I don’t think it’s a habit that you lose, per se, but one that may become a little “rusty.” Like riding a bike, if you don’t do it for a while you’re a little wobbly at first, but you never forget the motions. As a reader, I feel I’m more involved in deep reading towards the middle of a book or article, than I am at the beginning. I become aware of the topic and am able to relate more to it and have something to build upon. With a book, I’ve been introduced to the characters, so towards the middle I have more time to think about and question their actions than focusing on who’s who. I think you’re always improving your deep reading skill the more you read. Depending on what you’re reading, the deep reading experience differs. Different skills are used to read a novel than an online scholarly article, but deep reading still applies to both.

As teachers it is our responsibility to help our students navigate the internet and to provide websites that enhance their learning not hinder it. The National Geographic for Kids Creature Feature site is an excellent site for students to utilize when exploring animals. It offers text and interactive visuals such as sound and video of the creature. The information provided for the creature is organized and “chunked” so it’s not so overwhelming for students. The site is easy to navigate and provides an abundance of information. http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/

I was unaware of the National Geographic Young Explorer issues available online! What a fantastic classroom resource. Even though it is geared toward younger readers, I think my struggling readers in 6th grade would benefit. I like how the pace is slower and the words are highlighted as they’re read. This is a wonderful example of great texts available in the digital format and something students could navigate easily. There are so many great resources available for classroom use, but there are also many websites available that are problematic for students. I don’t think we need to be so overbearing that students aren’t able to explore, but as we’ve discussed before we need to guide these students to the understanding of what is a credible site and what is truly crap (pardon my French.)  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngyoungexplorer/moreissues.html

I happened upon the site from National Geographic Kids Creature Feature for the Mountain Gorilla when exploring websites to use for an internet workshop. What a great site to help deepen a student’s understanding of Ivan and what his natural habitat would be. It is almost as if the site was made to go along with The One and Only Ivan. The pictures enhance the book, especially the one of the gorilla’s “knuckle walking,” making me want to try it even more. 🙂

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/mountain-gorilla/

As mention earlier, what a great resource We Give Books is for the classroom! After reading the first book for the initial assignment, I signed up immediately. How could you not? For such a great site, it’s definitely worth it. I also shared it on my social sites inviting other teachers, and book lovers, to check it out if they haven’t already. The opportunities are endless; Parents can use it to read to their children, grandparents, teachers, classrooms, siblings, and even students themselves. My nephews live in New York, but how neat will it be to be able to read a book “together.”  I’m very excited to use this site in the classroom as well as at home.  http://www.wegivebooks.org

It’s true that with the new standards we are starting to recognize and incorporate the internet into our classrooms, as it should be. The internet is not going away and needs to be embraced by teachers. If anything, it’s going to become more prominent in our daily lives and our students need to be prepared. It’s true that good teaching is good teaching regardless of the medium that is used; however, we need to help prepare our students to be well rounded readers in both printed and non-printed text.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. heatherjohnson4255
    Jun 17, 2012 @ 15:55:52

    Lena-
    I’m so glad you love your Kindle! It’s amazing to know that you have tons of books at your fingertips and can buy a book at any given time. I agree that reading on a Kindle or Nook is much better than reading from a computer screen. It is more compact and looks more like a book. The reading experience is more enjoyable because you can take your Kindle or Nook with you anywhere, just like a book. Sitting at a computer desk and reading from a computer screen is not easy for me! I also agree with your paragraph stating the advantages of a digital reader-the tools are fantastic, but I especially love the fact that students can read on their level without being ashamed. This is so important for those struggling readers that we all encounter.

    Overall, this is a great post! 🙂

    Reply

    • lenasprinkle
      Jun 17, 2012 @ 20:12:17

      Heather,
      Thanks! I’m looking forward to utilizing it more after class is over. 🙂 I agree, sometimes it is overwhelming to read on a computer screen. I hate to waste paper, but I have an easier time reading scholarly texts on paper than on the computer screen. Perhaps I need to figure out how to use my kindle and the tools available on it when reading articles. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply

  2. tisenhour
    Jun 18, 2012 @ 10:45:34

    Lena,
    I love your title “come on baby light my fire.” Thanks for the information about the kindle. I think I am won over about ereaders. I am going to seriously consider getting an ereader. I agree with your comments about “closing the gap with our students using e-readers. With my conversion this week, I think the e reader is going to help with deep reading issues by personalizing the text.
    Your internet workshop is really great! I think your students will really enjoy this type of science interactive lesson. Very well done!
    Tonya

    Reply

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