Monday, July 6, 2015

#cyberPD: DIGITAL READING - Part 1

This summer a really BIG! group of educators are reading and learning together online.  I am participating and co-hosting this year's #cyberPD event about digital reading and creating digital readers in our classrooms with Cathy Mere and Laura Komos.  Please join us as we read and discuss online:

Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 
by William L. Bass II and Franki Sibberson
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My Thoughts and Reflections/Implications in My Classroom

I always think about my reading with three different visions:  What does this mean for my developing readers receiving small group interventions?  What does this mean for all students in my school? What does this mean for my own daughters who will be starting kindergarten this fall?  So much to think about, but always worth stretching my thinking to do what is best for ALL -- and that's why I love that quote mentioned above from Kyleen Beers and Bob Probst.  Isn't that true about all reading that we do?  

I appreciated that the book started with the NCTE Policy Research Brief (2012): Reading Instruction for ALL Students.  It's a clear reminder of the expectations for all our students touching on hot topics such as text complexity, close reading, implications for instruction and formative assessment.  We MUST know our students as individual readers to motivate, to match text, and to provide necessary instruction toward building independent readers and thinkers.

And then I read this:
"... teachers need frequent and sustained opportunities to learn with one another about the range of instructional supports, interventions, and formative assessments as they emerge from the latest reading research and practice."
(NCTE: Reading Instruction for ALL Students, 2012)
We need more of THIS.  I need more of THIS.  I find opportunities to connect with educators across the world via Twitter, blogs, and this amazing #cyberPD community, but THIS professional development needs to ever present in every school every day, so that all teachers have the opportunities to grow and learn in the area of literacy instruction.  I want more of THIS visible in my school and district.  I want more of THIS as a natural part of conversations of learning and growing together.  (The wheels begin to turn ...)

After reading the first two chapters, I felt validated.  Bill and Franki confirmed and verified what I already know about best practices in literacy instruction and the Reading and Writing (R/W) Workshop.  A reading workshop classroom is surrounded by books that naturally creates a community of readers who talk about their reading lives due to the plentiful amounts of time to read books and authentically respond to reading.  But it's important for ALL educators to know and understand the foundational research as the basis of conversations and learning:  "... all the more important for teachers to understand and articulate what our core beliefs are about literacy instruction and to remain true to them" (p.6).  Remain true to them.  No matter what.

Creating a Digital R/W Workshop isn't as difficult or scary as some would think.  Of course, as Franki mentioned, there will be challenges.  I am thankful for a clear definition of "digital literacy" from NCTE (p.7) and the further explanation and expanded examples from Bill and Franki.  Yet, what is essential is knowing that all literacy instruction is grounded in the foundations of what we know is true about reading research.  

What do we also know?  Digital reading does not easily transfer from traditional literacy skills.  Readers need to experience it all.  Traditional and digital reading are a more natural part of my daily life.  It's embedded in my day-to-day work.  This is just what our students need as well.  I love how Franki explains the importance of knowing what tools to use for what purpose.  It's more than "because this tech is cool."   It's more just "this is what we do."   There are reflective questions for students working in a digital reading workshop on page 23.  However, I thought these questions would also be helpful for me!  I need to be more aware of my understanding and use of digital texts.  Teachers have to grow and be comfortable with digital reading and tools to share with students ... and, of course, students should also become the teachers too!

"Digital reading wasn't an additional part of the classroom;
rather, it became integral to the nature of our work." (Bass & Sibberson, p.20)

And that's when it hit me!  A-ha!  The key is embedding digital texts while focusing on AUTHENTICITY, INTENTIONALITY, and CONNECTEDNESS.  Providing students access, modeling through explicit instruction with lots of time to practice, practice, practice while providing immediate feedback, and time to share in the learning process using BOTH traditional and digital texts throughout the school day.   I need to be more intentional in my planning and purposefully (but naturally) incorporate digital texts.

Then Franki does it again!  She provides reflective questions about the role of digital texts in the literacy workshop (p.19-20) to plan more thoughtfully.  I'm still working at the surface level of digital literacy, dabbling with bits and pieces in my classroom.  I also need to move to thinking more deeply about digital reading in my own life and then think about the implications for my developing readers.

There is still so much to think about and plan for in my classroom and home.  I'm thankful that I can spend this week reading and reflecting with your a-ha's and take-aways from DIGITAL READING through our #cyberPD community!

"But most important, digital reading workshop is a time and place 
where young readers develop the habits and behaviors 
they will carry with them throughout their lives" (Bass & Sibberson, p.23).

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You can participate in the #cyberPD conversations this month too:

Read.  Reflect.  Share.  Respond to others.  Then repeat.

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As always, thank you for taking the time to read and share your voice!


  1. I totally agre with you about THIS. I know that Twitter and Blogging help me fill my bucket with continued learning, it's always fun to read the different blogs and see what others are thinking. Thanks for your post 😃

  2. Hi Michelle,

    I loved your focus on THIS. As a literacy teacher educator, THIS is what I do and your have my wheels turning as well on not only how to provide THIS for my current students, but how make sure they know how to seek out THIS on their own once they have graduated from our program. It is our personal efforts that sustain our work. Thanks for the insight!

  3. Yes! I totally agree with you regarding THIS type of PD. Just like reading and writing need to be authentic and meaningful for our students, it also must be for us teachers. That is why Twitter has been so helpful to me - I can search out my own PD. Providing students access will be my challenge. How can I best embed digital reading and writing within the computer lab format that my school uses. Thanks for co-hosting this cyberPD. I have often been a lurker and learned much.

  4. I like the emphasis on not using the technology because the technology is cool, but because it is just what we do. Someone in another post (Suzy I think) pointed out the technology changes so we should really be teaching how to approach the technology, how to choose what's most appropriate for our purpose and teach kids to be critical technology users, not just passive users.

  5. I enjoyed reading your thinking for school and your home. The educator/parent roles do have benefits and help shape what we do at home as parents. I hope you continue sharing thoughts from both angles during the month.

  6. Thanks for sharing your stance from various aspects, Michelle. It seems so important that staff within a school shares beliefs & practices, goals for growth, PD that helps.

  7. So here's another interesting topic for our voxer group - when you're seeing intervention groups, how much time are you spending on digital devices for reading? For most of my groups, it's none bc I feel like they need so much book experience still! But when they go home they are on tablets. How can I have them use those more in an authentic reading way?

  8. Michelle,
    How did I miss your post? I was all finished commenting and going back through in my mind to see if I felt I had been everywhere, but I didn't remember your post. I stopped by and, sure enough, I had missed your stop. Goodness.

    I appreciated the way you think about new learning: for your small groups, for your school and for your daughters. I'm looking forward to talking with you more about how you see this working in your small groups. This year I managed to get readers do some digital response. We responded on blogs, using Pixie, and Educreations. Students retold stories, talked about characters, and shared their thinking about the stories they read. We did some recording for fluency. I also used tools to create a few books for readers without a text level early in the year. However, keeping up with the digital part remained a challenge especially with students in classrooms that weren't utilizing digital tools on a regular basis.

    Next year I want to work to build this and be more consistent. I also want to find ways to incorporate more digital reading into our work. I'm not sure exactly how to do this so I look forward to thinking about this more in our Voxer group.

    I'll be looking forward to hearing more about your thinking as we read the next chapters.


  9. Michelle,
    I love your passion in advocating for what we need to be doing right now as we move forward! I am more committed than ever to remain true to my beliefs while adding digital components to my workshop and my classroom. I couldn't agree more; it is about time for practice, practice, practice and providing timely feedback to kids.

    And how is it possible that your girls are old enough for kindergarten already? My, how time flies!

  10. "... teachers need frequent and sustained opportunities to learn with one another about the range of instructional supports, interventions, and formative assessments as they emerge from the latest reading research and practice."

    So good!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.