Reading & Literacy

Research Drives Teacher Training for Digital Reading

By Benjamin Herold — May 06, 2014 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

As concern about technology’s impact on student reading comprehension grows, some researchers and educators are pursuing strategies for promoting “deep reading” skills on mobile digital devices.

In the 3,600-student Radnor Township district outside Philadelphia, for example, officials are working to train high school teachers in ways to help students transfer print-based reading strategies to their lessons when they use new school-issued iPads.

“People tend to become much more passive when holding a digital reading device in their hands,” said Joan Cusano, the district’s director of instructional technology. “Instruction has to be much more explicit, both to teachers, and from teachers to students.”

See Also

Digital Reading Poses Learning Challenges for Students

This school year, 11 Radnor High teachers are receiving four days of researcher-led training on “Using Literacy Strategies for Critical Reading on the iPad in Support of Higher-Level Thinking and Creativity.” The focus is not on a particular app or tool, Ms. Cusano said, but on cultivating mobile-device versions of established print reading skills. Such skills include:

• Previewing and predicting. The Radnor teachers are urged to remind students how they scan traditional print texts for headlines, organization, and other key indicators in order to size up a given reading. The teachers are also taught to demonstrate how to use digital tools to perform similar tasks on mobile devices.

• Tracking thinking. In print, many teachers and students are comfortable marking up a text with colored highlighters to categorize significant information and make it easier to find later. In digital environments, researchers and Radnor administrators say, such skills are critically important, but are not intuitive for most people, and thus need to be explicitly taught.

• Drawing inferences. The Common Core State Standards now being implemented in most states call for “close reading” that involves diving into texts themselves—rather than one’s own opinions—in search of evidence and meaning. Coding and annotating texts can help students read between the lines, but performing such tasks on mobile devices is an entirely different skill from doing so on paper.

E-Book Reading Skills

New technologies can help with each of those strategies, said Heather R. Schugar, an assistant education professor at nearby West Chester University of Pennsylvania who helped develop and lead the professional development in Radnor. But no app by itself, Ms. Schugar said, is transformational.

“The first step is for teachers to be aware that they need to teach students how to read from e-books,” she said. “In general, I don’t think teachers have realized that what their students already know how to do [in print] is not going to automatically transfer.”

In Radnor, it’s still too early to gauge what kind of difference, if any, such efforts have made. But the end game is clear.

“Our overall goal is to use these devices to really focus on critical and creative thinking,” Ms. Cusano, the technology director, said, “but to get there, we need to focus on reading strategies.”

Coverage of entrepreneurship and innovation in education and school design is supported in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the May 07, 2014 edition of Education Week as Pa. District Trains Staff on E-Reading Strategies

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
The State of Assessment in K-12 Education
What is the impact of assessment on K-12 education? What does that mean for administrators, teachers and most importantly—students?
Content provided by Instructure
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Proven Strategies to Improve Reading Scores
In this webinar, education and reading expert Stacy Hurst will provide a look at some of the biggest issues facing curriculum coordinators, administrators, and teachers working in reading education today. You will: Learn how schools
Content provided by Reading Horizons

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Reading & Literacy Spotlight Spotlight on K-3 Literacy
This Spotlight will help take a closer look at the "Wonders" curriculum and updated state policies on literacy plus more.
Reading & Literacy What Teachers Can Do to Help Struggling Readers Who Feel Ashamed
Students who are ashamed of not being able to read on grade level tend to withdraw from class or act out, experts say.
8 min read
17 literacy sr 01 05 22 shafer 3
Stephanie Shafer for Education Week
Reading & Literacy The Benefits of Intensive Tutoring for Older Readers
Research backs high-impact tutoring for older readers. But schools face barriers including cost and staffing.
6 min read
17 literacy sr 01 05 22 shafer 2
Stephanie Shafer for Education Week
Reading & Literacy How Schools Can Support Older Students Who Lag in Reading
Many older students have gaps in their foundational reading skills, limiting their ability to access grade-level work.
11 min read
17 literacy sr 01 05 22 1251066720
Getty / Igor Alecsander