Education Week - November 9, 2016 - 11
Where to Go for Digital
Rather than having students freely surf the web, many teachers
say they send students to handpicked education sites to read and
do research on nonfiction topics. These popular sites all have free
content, though some offer additional features for a fee.
Created by the National
Center for Families Learning,
this website has daily articles
about interesting phenomena
in science, social studies,
math, and other subject
areas, including answers
for questions like, "Why are
This website takes the daily
news and makes it studentfriendly, adapting each article
for five different reading levels.
This group of websites
features short, animated
videos on topics in science,
social studies, English,
math, the arts, health, and
The Kids Should
This library of more than
2,500 educational videos,
curated from across the
internet, has the tag line "notmade-for-kids, but perfect
for them." The videos cover
a range of topics, though
the site has an emphasis
on science, technology,
engineering, arts, and math.
Hosted by the Smithsonian,
this free website, geared
toward 8- to 15-year-olds,
is updated daily with highinterest news articles at four
different reading levels.
But Turner said devices are the least of teachers' problems. "Almost everybody can get at least one device in
the classroom whether through grants via DonorsChoose
or from the district," she said. And students can learn
the basics they need when a teacher projects the device
on a screen and models how to use it.
A bigger issue is that teachers feel hamstrung by policies that don't necessarily promote digital reading, some
said. Standardized tests do take place on computers now
in most states, but they don't measure authentic digital skills, such as navigating websites and using search
engines. And in many cases, because authentic online
reading tasks aren't being assessed, teachers in tested
grades may not prioritize teaching them.
In addition, many elementary teachers are uncomfortable with their own technology skills, which makes
them hesitant to start digital reading with students.
"For the most part, we were not trained as educators
to teach kids who are reading in digital spaces-that's
Maddie McGarvey for Education Week
not part of most teacher-prep courses," said Bass, the
innovation coordinator in Chesterfield. "We fall back and
rely on the way we were taught, and that's a barrier."
There are also some mindsets that hold teachers back
from teaching digital reading. "I've been in classrooms
where it's not happening at all," said Ziemke, the 1st
grade teacher and consultant. "There are people that are
waiting it out [until they leave teaching] or saying, 'I'm
going to go to a school that's not as techy.' "
And some educators are-understandably-still attached to the idea of falling in love with print books.
"There's still something very magical about holding a
book and being able to flip the page in your hands," said
Hale. "But reading isn't just reading print text anymore.
Reading is reading the world."
Teacher Franki Sibberson
works with one of her 3rd grade
students on a reading
assignment this fall at Indian
Run Elementary School
in Dublin, Ohio.
Visit the CURRICULUM MATTERS blog, which tracks news and trends on
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The Changing Face of Literacy / www.edweek.org/go/changing-literacy