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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Reading Redefined.

This has been an interesting school year.

I am trying some new things.

Chief among them is NaNoWriMo.

But going 1:1 has forced me to make some other unexpected adjustments.

Without really meaning to, I have shifted the way students are reading.

The traditional model is that students read words.

Sometimes they read silently, sometimes aloud, sometimes together.

Occasionally they follow along with an audio recording.

Analysis of said words ensues.

Before, during, and after reading, students dissect, discuss, summarize, infer, and so forth and so on.

We almost always do this in virtual lock step.

Even when students are working individually, they are given one task at a time and a strict deadline.

At the start of the year, I expected this pattern to continue relatively unchanged.

Little did I know how wrong I was.

I still assign readings.

Students still analyze what they read.

But the technology has changed things in unexpected ways.

Instead of a single written or audio version, I can give students access to multiple versions.

Videos, summaries, time lines, comic strips, Prezis, audio readings, plays are all just a click a way.

The possibilities are endless.

Reading redefined.

The access is so much greater, so much more equitable.

It doesn't mean the words are unimportant.

Or that kids can get away with totally avoiding text.

It just means there are fewer excuses and more opportunities.

Plus, instead of a single set of questions, it is much easier to provide choices.

I am not providing basic information.

Definitions, translations, summaries are all the work of Google now.

My students don't have to wait for me as much.

More of my time is spent teaching Ctrl F and other keyboard commands.

There are so many more options for successfully accessing the material.

Even more surprising is the change in pacing.

The lockstep stuff is dying.

Students are much more independent.

I can give students multiple tasks and a time frame and then let them figure it out.

They choose what to work on first.

They decide what to do at home.

They get comfortable in the space and work it out.

If a small group wants to work together with a teacher, we can do that.

If a kid needs to sit on the floor, we can do that.

If someone needs help with the previous assignment, we can do that.

If a few are ready to move on, we can do that.

It isn't that we couldn't do all of this before.

But it is soooooooooooooo much easier now.

And it has changed my planning process.

It isn't perfect.

I have A LOT to learn.

Some kids are not adjusting well.

They are too accustomed to being spoon fed curriculum in bite sized, easily digestible pieces.

The struggle is real.

Nonetheless, I am convinced the change is a good thing.

My classes are moving in the right direction.

Towards personalized, differentiated learning.

Towards mastery.

Towards deeper understanding and independence.

I hope I'm right.

In many ways, it feels like we are redefining reading.

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