My classroom is not a quiet, orderly place.
Students are constantly moving, thinking, talking, reading and writing.
I do my best to help my students find success.

July 10, 2015

Digital Learning Chs. 1 & 2 #cyberpd

Text available from NCTE

Happy collaboration time!  Thank you to Cathy, Laura and Michelle for hosting this summer's edition of #cyberpd.  A place to read a professional book with other like-minded people and have a great conversation!  Grab a copy of Digital Reading: What's Essential in Grades 3-8 by Bill Bass and Franki Sibberson and join the discussion!


Chapter 1 & 2 

This year I taught a classroom of first graders.  Everyone had a tablet.  The kids loved them.
I was not as excited.

I really thought I needed to hold back the reins on the tablets or my six- and seven-year-old charges would become completely dependent on their devices, needing to use them 24/7.  Yes, I am the same person who encouraged blogging and online reading just a year ago, but this felt different.  Would I be able to model the "right" kind of digital citizenship and using tablets as a tool?  I wasn't feeling confident, so I reluctantly let my students have access to these shiny, speedy digital tools.  I tried my best to provide guidance and anchor charts, yet I worried that my students would end up shunning our extensive library of books.

While reading the first two chapters of Digital Reading, I kept writing down the same word over and over on my sticky notes...
We (I, I, I) need to be intentional when making decisions about our instruction, our beliefs and our students.  First, we must decide what is digital reading. I love to read blogs and read lots of them.  They are snapshots of real people dealing with real situations, and I enjoy the insight into their thinking and feelings.  I have encouraged my students to write blogs, but I've never intentionally
showed them other blogs (written by kids and adults) that they can read and use as mentor texts.


Digital Reading Workshop
During my many years of reading instruction, I've encountered many students who are "passive consumers" of text (p.13).  This book reminds me of the importance of teaching students to reach for deeper understandings of all text they encounter, no matter if it's digital or hardcopy.  I appreciate the authors' commitment to creating a digital reading workshop model focused on:

authenticity - ensuring students see reading as an experience that doesn't just occur in the classroom

intentionality- purposeful instruction; students make meaningful choices about text they use

connectedness - help students connect to peers, other readers, authors and the world using digital tools


As much as I'm guilty of seeing technology as an extra "thing" to manage in the classroom, I have a better understanding of myself as digital reader and communicator, and how I must intentionally guide my students in finding success, no matter what text or format they choose.  I look forward to gaining more confidence and knowledge about digital reading from our book study!


  1. Chris,

    First of all, yeah! for joining in the #cyberPD conversation ... even when I know you are busy with your classes! And, of course, I'm so HaPpy (clap along with me) that you are sharing your honest thoughts and reflections.

    I understand the hesitation of handing over those "shiny, speedy digital devices," especially ones that we were not comfortable with nor had any training. Yes, it was exciting, but very scary too. And in first grade there was A LOT of explicit instruction necessary for meaningful engagement using the devices. I love that the authors stress the importance of holding onto the foundation literacy instruction that we know is true. The devices are only secondary. Intentional was ringing in my ears too! We must be so much more intentional in our planning and in what digital text or tools we use to enhance our instruction ... so much to think about! Especially thinking hard about how it all fits in during the intervention blocks ...

    Love how you end your thoughts: "I look forward to gaining more confidence and knowledge about digital reading from our book study!" Me too!!! Thanks for joining the fun with me!!!

  2. I understand the trepidation too! If I walked into a grade 1 classroom with 20 iPads, I can't say I'd know what to do right away. And I think I'd be looking for ways to add them into the day, and probably get focused on one or two apps and use those over and over. Unlike you, however, my school doesn't have good classroom libraries. I have a pretty good collection of books, but not nearly enough. I am thinking more and more about how to use the iPads as a reading resource on a regular basis. That would definitely help make up for our lack of books!

  3. I enjoyed hearing your reflection from a first grade point of view, Maria. This is good for me especially as I watch my granddaughter who is entering first grade and is quite facile already with the IPad. I look for learning opportunities for her, but also find that she does want to use it a lot, so I've had to set some time limits. I look forward to seeing what specific things you are doing with your students, too. It's wonderful that you've done so much, but gaining control of this new kind of thing within your workshop must also be challenging. You seem ready for another year, with some changes I guess.

  4. Chris,
    I'm so glad you're joining the conversation again this year. As a first grade teacher, I've always felt I was lucky to have 5-8 devices in my room at one time. It didn't happen always, but we could make that work. I have wished for some time every student had access. However, reading your post reminded me what 25 devices might seem like all at once. Eight devices ebb and flow in the workshop. Students move between books, notebooks, and devices. It all feels very natural, but there would be a lot of support required to get everyone ready all at one time.

    Considering the words authenticity, intentionality, and connectedness seem to help shape those first decisions. I think also going back to thinking about the literacy framework or the gradual release of control model in which we start with the highest level of support and move toward independence can help.

    I look forward to continued conversation. I enjoyed the story and voice of your post --- and appreciated your honesty. Digital literacy isn't always easy. Workshops aren't always easy. We just learn to work through the tricky parts. Having a group like this will help us to prepare for the coming year.