Carrie Kagan

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About Me

I have been an educator for nearly 20 years! I graduated with a B.A. in Secondary English Education in 1999 from the University of Delaware. I have taught English to grades 6-12 in the classroom. Tenth grade British Literature has been my favorite so far! I've also taught Journalism and supervised creation of the school newspaper. I have spent a significant amount of time in supplemental education as a teacher and director at learning centers, private tutoring companies, and online.

When I'm not teaching, I enjoy reading, especially historical fiction, and I almost always have a knitting project underway. I love game nights with my husband and two sons. I think board and card games provide fun opportunities for strategic thinking, collaboration, and balancing competition with good sportsmanship!

My Topic and Purpose

Active Reading Strategies for the Digital Reader

Digital reading is different from reading the printed page. Though some active reading strategies are still applicable, additional time should be invested in facilitating digital reading. This course will examine the challenges that reading on the screen (computer, mobile device, or tablet) presents to learners. As K-12 students are increasingly moving their studies and testing online in virtual, blended, and tech assisted classrooms, it is important for teachers to guide students in employing good, active reading strategies in the digital space. Active reading practices engage readers in text, improve comprehension, and build self-regulatory habits leading to more independent life-long readers.

Learning Outcomes

Learners will be able to:

  • Explain the differences between print and digital reading
  • Find value in active reading strategies for engaging with challenging texts
  • Apply active reading strategies and model the practices when reading digital text
  • Design lessons that incorporate active reading practices for improved student comprehension

Needs Assessment

Instructional Problem- Digital reading is becoming more prevalent for learning as classroom texts, resources, and tests are increasingly available on-screen. The findings show that online reading may require more mental effort (cognitive load), is perceived as not conducive to serious study, and employs navigational and tactile differences that affect readers (Nichols, 2016). In order to help students engage with digital texts for deep understanding and comprehension, teachers must consider the challenges of on-screen reading and take the time to orient students to active reading practices appropriate for the environment. Being aware of digital reading challenges and engaging solutions will also benefit teachers own deep reading practices.

Many teachers and students have prior knowledge of active reading strategies (highlighting, questioning, note-taking, etc…) to help maintain focus and improve comprehension. Such practices are applicable to online reading, but there is an additional need to address concerns specific to the digital platform. The intent of this course is to provide teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to address these challenges including engagement, hypertext structure, text mapping (knowing where we are both physically and cognitively in a text), and perceptions of reading for deep learning. “In the digital space, that means disrupting a pattern of skipping around, writing short chats and getting lost down the rabbit hole of the internet. It means teaching kids ways to break down a complex text, find key ideas, organize them and defend them. Practicing those skills in class can be time-consuming, but it also builds good digital reading habits that hopefully become second nature” (Schwartz, 2016).

What is to be learned- Educators will learn what makes digital reading a skill different from reading print. In light of these challenges, participants will engage in strategies to improve on-screen reading engagement and comprehension. Teachers will learn how to shift their digital reading mindset and how to convey active reading approaches to their digital readers.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

Learners- Learners will include active and pre-service educators at all levels. Learners will have some experience with reading text online and employing digital reading activities for learning. Knowledge may also benefit post-secondary students as their needs for digital reading comprehension increase.

Instructional Context- All instruction for this mini-course will be provided through an online platform requiring a stable Internet connection. Participants will engage in the course at the time and location of their choosing.

Exploring the problem and solution- Through this course, participants will examine different challenges presented by digital reading and explore different approaches to reading on-screen content for comprehension. Possible solutions may include teaching traditional active reading strategies for engagement or the need to introduce additional practices for specific digital formats.

Goals- One goal for this course is for educators to recognize that digital reading for comprehension requires a different mindset than engaging in other online activities. Secondly, traditional active reading approaches for print text may be beneficial for screen-reading, but digital readers consider additional factors and strategies specific to their chosen format. Finally, classroom teachers using digital texts will take the time to introduce digital reading skills to their students for improved self-regulation of successful reading habits.

Performance-Based Objectives

  • Given standard digital text and a printable version, participants will identify and reflect on the differences between the reading experiences in order to recognize the new challenges of screen-reading (construct knowledge of the issue)
  • After reviewing common active reading strategies, participants will apply them to the digital space for an improved comprehension experience.
  • Using the knowledge constructed from Objective 1, participants will create a plan for addressing reading challenges unique to digital formats, including mindset, hyperlinks, text mapping, etc…, for improved reading focus.
  • Participants will reflect on the importance of demonstrating these active reading strategies for K-12 readers relying on screens for learning, studying, and testing so that teaching them becomes a priority in the 21st century classroom.

Task Analysis

Terminal Goal: Classroom teachers will recognize the mindset and strategies necessary for reading digital formats for comprehension and take the time to address these needs with students.

Unit 1: Given standard digital text and a printable version, participants will identify and reflect on the differences between the reading experiences in order to recognize the new challenges of screen-reading (construct knowledge of the issue)

-Present links to text for reading comprehension that contain hyperlinks and distracting elements. Provide a basic pdf of same text for printing. Learners will review both formats and respond to reflective questions comparing and contrasting the benefits/drawbacks of each format.

-Learners summarize key problematic features of online text: inability to annotate, hyperlinks, distractions, and mindset.

Unit 2: After reviewing common active reading strategies, participants will apply them to the digital space for an improved comprehension experience

-Recall active reading strategies often presented in classrooms for focused reading of text: Previewing, questioning, highlighting, marginal notetaking, summarizing.

-Present effective annotation tools for digital reading.

-Participants will employ digital annotation with text

-Learners reflect on how digital annotation improves comprehension-- mindset and focus as well as deep reading.

Unit 3: Using the knowledge constructed from Objective 1, participants will create a plan for addressing reading challenges unique to digital formats, including distractions such as videos, ads, hyperlinks, etc… for improved reading focus.

-Recall additional problematic features from Unit 1- hyperlinks, distractions, mindset and determine how they would prefer information to be presented to students, ideally.

-Learners will be provided with strategies and tools to achieve a less distracting reading experience.

-Learners will brainstorm ways to incorporate these tools into their lessons for improved reading comprehension.

-Participants will reflect on the importance of demonstrating these active reading strategies for K-12 readers relying on screens for learning, studying, and testing.

Curriculum Map

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Digital Reading for Comprehension

Begin the course with this link!

References and Resources

Nichols, M. (2016). Reading and Studying on the Screen: An Overview of Literature towards Good Learning Design Practice. Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, 20(1), 33–43. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.albany.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1112348&site=ehost-live

Schwartz, K. (2016). Strategies to Help Students 'Go Deep' When Reading Digitally. Retrieved 23 November 2019, from https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/46426/strategies-to-help-students-go-deep-when-reading-digitally