Friday, October 14, 2011

Reading Creates Better Readers

This week, we have been looking at the topic of digital literacy - a topic, I have found, that encompasses a wide range of opinions and schools of thought.

Why are students standardized test scores on the decline? Well, some are pointing fingers at students lack of reading linear materials, such as a book, cover to cover (and for pleasure! Gasp!). I tend to think there might be something to this theory, but why not adapt the standardized tests to be better suited to what students ARE reading (because isn't the fact that they are reading something count for anything?!?!)? Non-linear reading, or reading information online, has its benefits for today's students. There is an interaction where students discover different points of view, learn the skills to locate information quickly, evaluate that information, and collaborate with others. There is no clear beginning, middle or end to the topic, but is that a bad thing?

I am not in any way discounting the importance of linear reading - getting students involved in each is key to developing 21st century learning skills. Teachers and librarians can incorporate both into exciting lessons - why not have students read a "traditional" book, and then go online to learn more about the author, write and read student reviews, or discover more about the particular setting or time period online.

My fellow librarians in training - any ideas in incorporating both skills?


  1. Here here! I see nothing wrong with non-linear reading, but I also see the merit of linear reading. Incorporating both is key.

    I like your idea of reading a book, then looking online at reviews and looking up the author. It's a great start.

    Reading linearly and non linearly are two different mind sets. Reading linearly is for people who are in the mood to sit for a while and enjoy the text while non linear is more for a faster paced reading session. Having a quiet time each day where the students read a linear book could be helpful, while later they blog about it and read their peers blogs as well, and comment. It's along the same lines as your idea, and there's a lot you can do with it. I feel we just need to get them to sit for a while and learn to enjoy.

  2. I think it's going to be difficult to get kids to sit down and enjoy linear reading. Our fast pace society often forces me toward nonlinear reading. I get the horrible feeling that if I sit down to read, I'm going to miss out on something else.

  3. Not a bad thing at all that students read non-linearly and that's what they need to be able to do in today's world--so it's really essential. I like your idea about combining both linear and non-linear reading in an assignment, Denice. Amanda shared a good idea, too, about blogging as a follow-up to reading a linear book. I was surprised at what Jonathan said not because I disagree but because I can actually relate to that feeling of possibly missing out on things if I sit down to long to relax. While I love reading for pleasure, what he says is an interesting perspective and one we should be aware of when creating strategies to increase motivation to read for pleasure.

  4. Amanda, I think this is one of many ways that standardized testing does not properly address the learning skills that are most essential and useful for today's students. I also agree that there is value in linear and non-linear reading skills. I was thinking, linear reading seems most closely aligned with the lower orders of learning (comprehension) and non-linear reading and all of the other methods of communicating and sharing align with some of the higher levels (synthesizing, evaluating, creating). Do you agree? I think that skill development all along the continuum is important, but non-linear reading takes students to the next level of learning.

  5. Whoops - I meant Denice, not Amanda. :)

  6. Amanda- loved your ideas of incorporating both. It provides a little bit for everyone, and shows students the importance of each skill.

    Jonathan- I think you pose a great point, and one I would ever think of. It speaks volumes of what generation I am in! Ha!

    Mary- Wow, never looked at the two types of reading that way, and think you have an incredibly valid point! Some of those higher levels of thinking get lost without the comprehension skill that is obtained from linear reading, so they real do need to work in conjunction.