Research

As I read chapters one and two of the Connected Reading text, there were three essential questions that came to my mind in regards to the whole notion of close reading strategies and the obvious need to incorporate those strategies with digital literacies. I teach sixth grade ELA and I have been struggling with balancing digital literacy practices with traditional reading practices. It seems to be a challenge because at the school I teach at we have limited or better put inconsistent technological resources. Not only are there limited resources at our school, but sixth grade students are at an age where many parents limit the amount of digital resources their children can be exposed to. In short, when trying to effectively implement digital strategies there are often several obstacles that teachers face when trying to teach the curriculum in a digital world.

I do my best to integrate digital strategies to those students that have access to the digital devices and the internet, but I have noticed a very wide divide between those students with the devices and those who limited to no access to digital devices. Our testing and much of our reading practices are done online with programs like Teen Biz and STAR reading. There are students that are flourishing with the use of technology, but there are students that struggle tremendously with the navigation of the websites or even the very basic skills of working a computer. After reading just the first two chapters, there were some big “aha” moments in my understanding as to why some of my students have such difficulties. I teach reading for the majority of the time in the traditional manner, students have a hard copy and we highlight and annotate the text and answer questions both in written and verbal forms. I have assumed that through that type of explicit instructions, students would have no problem reading and completing online texts on their own successfully. That however, is not the case at all. Many of my struggling readers do very poorly or fail the majority of the online reading tasks. Turner and Hicks assert that, “We have to understand that although research into New Literacy suggests that some of these traditional strategies may be transferable to digital texts, online reading, particularly with hyperlink texts, require additional strategies” (p. 24). I am realizing the importance of having to still teach traditional reading strategies, however, I need to also teach students how to navigate and do close reading strategies with digital texts because there are huge differences in how to understand the language and format of digital reading. Turner and Hicks conclude chapter two with the statement, “We recognize that we are responsible for teaching them all to read” (p. 29).

It is imperative in today’s world that students learn to read both traditionally and digitally.

Hawley Turner, K., & Hicks, T. (2015). Connected Reading Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World. N.p.: NCTE.

There was a very noticeable emphasis on the progression of literacy learning from elementary school to high school. Research from the NCTE states that, “Literacy learning is recursive and requires continuing development and practice” (p.2). One of the major “aha” moments in my teaching career as I moved from elementary to middle school is the fact that students do not come to you ready to read complex texts or even read the types of texts in middle school proficiently. After reading this article it makes perfect sense that students often lack the skills needed to read successfully in an academic setting. The “emphasis on how to read in elementary school can crowd out attention to reading for ideas, information, and concepts—the very skills adolescents need to succeed in secondary school” (p. 1).

In the past four years that I have taught sixth grade, there has been a huge change in how the standards are taught in the English Language Arts curriculum. The demands of Close Reading strategies and instruction has been both rewarding and challenging for me as a teacher, but I have also noticed the difference in how students are responding to the more rigorous texts and literacy activities. Students appear to be less engaged and more withdrawn from the various types of literature in reading and writing exercises and that many students are struggling with comprehension and analysis of the texts. It has made me question my own approaches and teaching methodologies in reading and writing instruction. After reading the three articles about digital literacies it has been made clear to me that the way students are perceiving literature is very different from my own and that I need to be more open to the demands of a digital world.

Education has certainly evolved over the past twelve years that I have been a teacher. It has changed at an overwhelming rate from what I consider the traditional methods of teaching to the high demands of a social media world. It is much more challenging to keep students’ attention on the curriculum as well as motivating and engaging them, especially in middle school. According to Hicks and Turner, “The nature of literacy has changed in the digital age—we as teachers do not have the time to catch up to the change in the digital world” (Hicks and Turner, 2013, p. 58). AS we evolve in education it is imperative that we keep in mind the literacies that students in today’s digital world as bringing into the class room. We as teachers need to be mindful of the benefits that incorporating and recognizing the various literacies that students bring into the class.

One of the most prominent common threads that was discussed between the texts that related to the class discussion was the fact that students need to be able to have choices in choosing their own style of literature. There needs to be opportunity for students to use multiple and social literacies and to have a responsive classroom environment where students have the power of choice in reading and writing tasks that could improve motivation (Reading Instruction for All Students, NCTE, p. 4).

Overall, there needs to be awareness and respect to the various digital literacies that students bring to the classroom. Teaches themselves need to be able to not only use technology to enhance learning, but to incorporate digital literacies to engage and motivate student learning that is relevant to the digital world they live in.

References:

Hicks, T., & Hawley Turner, K. (2013). No longer a luxury: digital literacy can’t wait. Enlish Journal, 102.(6), 58-65

Adolescent Literacy: A Policy Research Brief by NCTE

Reading Instruction for All Students: A Policy Research Brief by NCTE

 

Annotated Bibliography

Burnett, C., & Merchant, G. (2015, November). The challenges of 21st century literacies. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 59(3), 271-274.

The authors of the current research address the dilemma that there is an ineffective integration of digital literacies into the current curriculum. This disconnect is evident even in schools where there is adequate supply of digital resources that are up to date and in working condition. The curriculum tends to favor traditional literacy skills and printed texts. The 21st century literacies need to be better recognized and utilized within the curriculum. The authors provide a nine step process in aiding the integration of 21st digital literacies with curriculum.

This article is closely related to one of my essential questions regarding the integration of digital literacies and printed text and how to be successful in the process. I am eager to learn more about how to effectively use and integrate digital literacies with my current ELA curriculum so that my students are engaged and motivated to read and write.

 

Jansen, C., & van der Merwe, P. (2015). Teaching practice in the 21st century: Empowering trends, challenges, and opportunities. Universal Journal of Education Research, 3(3), 190-199. Retrieved from ERIC.

The research in the article addresses the need for digital technology to be an integral part of pedagogical content knowledge with student teachers and in-service teachers. There are a variety of teacher perspectives when dealing with digital technology from very comfortable and skilled with technology to resistant and fearful. The study focused on the process of developing a quality digital media literacy program that is integrated with school curriculum. Teachers would be challenged to reflect on their own digital literacies and how their knowledge would be integrated with their content knowledge for effective pedagogical practices in the classroom.

I found this article to be very interesting because I believe it is very important to equip pre-service teachers with the knowledge of digital literacies as well as aiding in-service teachers with lessons on how to use digital literacies in their classrooms. Reflection is a crucial part of teaching and teachers need to be reflective in all parts of their practice no matter how challenging it may be. The research did give me some insight to some of my questions that I posed in the previous discussions.

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