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INFOhio Loves Reading: A Reading Community Creates Digital Literacy

Author // Emily Rozmus Thursday, 01 February 2018

Imagine a classroom where students are all reading and interacting with each other about the text, but there is little talking. A few students sit in groups, sharing a computer or tablet, whispering and pointing to what they notice. Some students are sitting alone, typing or using the annotation features to respond to the digital text they are reading on their device. Headphones read aloud text for students who choose that option. Other students are at the front of the room with the teacher. Projected on the whiteboard is an eBook, and the students are taking turns going up and interacting with the text using a dry erase marker, quietly explaining their work. Later, the work the students have done as readers will be shared, and the teacher will review the learning and send it out to parents for an update. 

Graham 4th grade teacher Amber Johnson works with students to learn more about female baseball players using World Book Kids.

Despite the lack of noise pollution in the classroom, this is an example of building a community of readers. Using digital text and tools is a way to engage readers in text, as well as empower them with one of the most critical needs for their future—digital literacy. Digital literacy is not just reading digital text. This skill, defined as "the ability to compose and communicate using digital technologies as well as how to comprehend and evaluate information in digital forms" was named in the 2018 Winter edition of the International Literacy Association's Literacy Today as the number one "Hot Topic," a trending topic that receives a great deal of attention from stakeholders—teachers, parents, legislators, and media. However, it appears nowhere in the list of "Important Topics," those that are viewed as the most necessary to ensure that all learners are increasingly literate. Why the discrepancy in members' views? Many people have a misconception about the level of digital literacy young learners have, believing that because they are knowledgable in the ways to use techonology to play, they are also literate when using it to learn or work. Because of this, it is important to provide educators with the tools they need to truly help learners become digitally literate. INFOhio is dedicated to providing high-quality digital content, resources, and tools to students and teachers in Ohio that will develop the necessary skills for early literacy, inquiry, and college and career readiness. 

On a recent visit to Graham Local School district, INFOhio staff visited the 4th grade classroom of teacher Amber Johnson. Students sat in groups or alone with Chromebooks, reading and taking notes to answer questions they had developed previously. Each student used an INFOhio resource—World Book Kids, BookFlix, or Scholastic Literacy Pro—to find information that would help answer their question. Becasue the students had chosen their own topics, they seemed even more engaged in their work. They were focused on solving a problem and their reading was purposeful.

Student-created questions create purpose. "How many cow breeds are in the (E)arth and which is the most popular?"
This student in Ms. Johnson's class uses a graphic organizer to help her organize her learning.

And, students weren't learning in a vaccuum; they worked in groups and talked about their question and explored the resources together. These 4th graders were a community of readers who were comfortable using their devices and the digital content for critical thinking and problem solving. This is an example of digital literacy. 

If you are interested in developing a community of digitally literate readers, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Use INFOhio's quality digital content. Whether you have beginning readers, or students ready to graduate, INFOhio has the right text for your students. Use BookFlix or Capstone Interactive eBooks with primary students. ISearch will help older readers search almost all of the databases available from INFOhio to find text to solve a problem or build a solution.
  • Create a classroom where community is the norm. Seating options, lighting, and technology use are all key parts of building a reading culture. When students consistently get feedback on how to interact with each other while using digital tools and spaces for learning, they are internalizing the power of a digital learning community.
  • Integrate everyday social media outlets as well as educational resources for sharing ideas and understanding from reading. In the Literacy Today article Literature Circles 2.0 by Lee Araoz, he recommends having students create BookSnaps—digitally annotated pictures of text. Students can screen shot their passage and share it on their feed of choice—a classroom Twitter account, SnapChat story, or a shared space like Padlet or Google apps for education. And, don't forget to let student voice be the star of learning using INFOhio's Book Nook!
This BookSnap uses a screenshot of an article found in ISearch, and the annotation tools on an iPad.
  • Use both print and digital text. This is one of the Best Practices for Digital Reading, and helps students make connections that lead to lifelong learning.
  • Share your community with adminstrators, parents, and other stakeholders. Invite visitors to your classroom and share pictures of your reading community with others. Most of all, share it with us! INFOhio loves to see students and teachers learning with our resources and tools. #INFOhioWorks!

About the Author

Posted by: Emily Rozmus

Emily Rozmus is a Senior Instructional Specialist at INFOhio. She has worked in education for over 25 years, first as a secondary English teacher and district librarian before starting at INFOhio in 2013. Emily has developed district growth plans, integrated technology, created instruction for information literacy, fostered teacher development, and worked on teams to implement curriculum. At INFOhio, she focuses on training educators to use INFOhio resources to improve early learning. She also works to share research and best practices for helping students be better readers of INFOhio's digital text. 

Emily Rozmus
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