How to transition reading skills from paper to digital platforms
Teacher, Boston Latin School
BLOG POST #1
By Amelie Baker
This grant opportunity has given me the chance to parse out and tackle a question about teaching and learning that has been irking me. Like a thorn in a lions paw, every time educators talk about the need to integrate technology, my paw gets a little irritated. I am a fan of analogue systems and I hate the assumption that nothing is lost when a text is transferred to a digital platform. But I am the last generation to grow up without internet access, cell phones, and all the accoutrements of such items, so I must find a way to make peace.
I keep a bucket of highlighters in my classroom and each of students can attest to how often I require the use of these tools. I ask students to turn in articles, excerpts, photos, cartoon, pieces of art, speeches etc. marked up with a range of annotations. Sometimes those pieces lead to a more formal writing or speaking assessment. I have 140 students and reading through that much writing often limits the amount of formal writing I assign. But a thoroughly annotated text can simply scream out to me when I”m grading. I can search through the documents and find correlations from the bright pink sections to the students comments. I can respond with my own informal comments or questions.
Recently in the New York Review of Books blog Tim Parks wrote about the transformative power of reading a book with a pen in hand, “We are no longer passive consumers of a monologue but active participants in a dialogue.”
His entire piece echoes the need to have students write on a text. Looking back at my old books and college assignments, I not only get to review what I had learnt, but how I had learned it and what I was thinking at the time. I can be amused by my naivete or inspired by my youthful optimism. I can go back to that text and read it in a completely new way. I want my students to be able to have a record of their own thinking in this way.
Tim Parks also notes that there is power in being able to respond to a revered piece of text. I can validate the student”s thinking and they can begin to see their own ideas as worthy. I have made a chart to show the different kinds of annotating and the purposes of each (posted at the end of blog entry). So now the challenge is not only transferring these skills to a digital platform but also exploring the opportunities of active reading via a digital platform. The following are some areas I want to explore and I hope to find more:
- using an ipad with a pdf text
- using an ipad with a photograph or piece of art
- using pdf format on computer
- using google docs
- sharing documents and allowing multi-student annotations
- what might a smart phone enable students to do
|Kinds of Annotating||Purpose||Instructions|
|Summarizing||Synthesize the main idea of each part of a text||Next to each paragraph or chosen amount of text, write the main idea|
|Simplifying||Tackling complex text and making it useful
A good strategy for primary sources, antique language, or translations from a foreign language
|After each sentence or even fragment of complex language, put the material in your own words|
|Translating||Similar to simplifying but turns the text into language that can be comprehended by a wider audience||After each sentence or even fragment of complex language, put the material into words that can be more universally understood|
|Reacting||A text that elicits strong emotions or challenges another, more commonly accepted version||Writing casual language is acceptable, and using symbols, cartoons, and texting language can all function well|
|Responding||An author often is presenting an argument, and tries to construct a strong case. Annotations to this text are then the readers sense of agreement or disagreement with the author.
Good to use with laws, post-modern critiques etc.
|Areas of the text that the author presents a strong argument, the reader writes their own version|
|Dialoguing||Similar to responding, except in this case the reader may be simply relating the text to their own lives or their own thinking. It may be incomplete or inconclusive.||It can involve all the skills of annotating. It is the most complex and also the most satisfying way of reading a text.|
Written by Amelie Baker, May 13, 14. All uses of this document or the ideas herein must attribute authorship to Amelie Baker.