5 Reading Resolutions for 2020: #2. Navigate the Two Worlds of Reading

My granddaughter started kindergarten this school year and is part of the class of 2032. I often think about the challenges and opportunities ahead for her. Having taught kindergarten years ago, I’m struck by how much has changed. Children today will need to become what Dr. Maryanne Wolf calls “bi-literate.” This means our students will need to read capably and confidently, adjusting to the demands of the task and requirements of the text as presented.

In my last blog, I identified our first new resolution to “start right, finish strong.” Today, I want to discuss our second reading resolution to help students navigate the two worlds of reading: print and digital.

Reading Resolution 2: Help Students Navigate the Print and Digital Worlds of Reading 

Brandt and Eagleman write in their book The Runaway Species (2017) about how humans interact and change their environment by:

  • Bending, or remaking something that exists
  • Breaking, or using pieces of something to create something new in response to change
  • Blending, or taking two existing ideas in a combined or new way

We are now used to blended learning as a staple, and this is very prevalent in what we define as a “book.”

I think the most important thing we can do is recognize the different demands placed on the reader by the modality. The corollary is that while most children learn to read in a mostly print environment—and only research may prove whether that’s best—it is important not to expect exact transfer but to teach children to adapt to a digital format.

Here are some practical suggestions for reading in two worlds:

  • Help students identify which modality is best for the task at hand.
  • Provide ongoing lessons on using both print and digital texts.
  • Continue to ensure that students engage in surface and deep reading.
  • Be sure students use digital supports as tools to make meaning and not as distractions.

We know that the class of 2032 will have learning experiences we cannot entirely anticipate. Further, we know that reading is a critical part of community. Teaching children to become strategic, bi-literate readers is critical on their path toward becoming good students and ultimately responsible and caring members of the community. 

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This is the second in a series of five blog posts based on Francie Alexander's recent webinar, “The Five Big Research-Based Ideas That Will Have a Positive Impact on Literacy Outcomes.” Read resolution one here. Stay tuned for Reading Resolutions #3–5. 

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