Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Utilizing Web 2.0 in the Classroom to Enhance Reading Literacy!

One of the most interesting digital junctions in education (and I say digital junctions to express the idea of the ways in which digital tools interface with other educational models) is between reading literacy and the potential of Web 2.0. Take for instance, this graphic from Fountas & Pinnell, When Readers Struggle (Work Cited Below). Indeed, we first must acknowledge that the reader must engage in this organic ecology of cycling systems, and other tilts (such as writing skills and background knowledge) within their individual thought process, but Web 2.0 can assist with this ecology. Web 2.0 is a bi-directional conduit for most comprehension strategies, serving not only as a tool for the expression of comprehension, but also as a source for recapturing, reformulating, and remixing understanding while regenerating connections

First, the capacity for readers to express the evolving result of these processes is important. My good friend Maureen Colburn says, "Comprehension is enhanced and deepened through conversation." Digital expression and conversation through wikis, blogs, micro-blogs, back channels, and conversation within social bookmarking can effectively facilitate this expression.

Second, the context of where the reader comprehension strategies occur effects the depth of understanding accomplished. When students have the notion that the only person going to see the result of their work to comprehend is the teacher, the context isn't meaningful. However, when the expression of comprehension is done through digital conversation and interaction, the context is different; it's collaborative, immediate, and cooperative.

Last, student engagement matters. I too am tired of the trite appreciation of Web 2.0 for the novelty of technology, yet the sheer truth is that student engagement increases when they meaningfully use technology.

Digital technologies isn't the only tool to employ when creating an environment where students will more likely use strategies to comprehend complex text. Almost all literacy coaches (I know a couple of wonderful ones) will say that a balanced approach to a literacy program is the best way to promote student literacy. This balance, however, must include Web 2.0, and currently specialists in literacy may not yet have the skills and dispositions required to fully understand the potential of Web 2.0 in how it supports reading and thinking processes.

G.S. Pinnell & I.C. Fountas. 2009. When readers struggle: Teaching that works. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann. 

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