Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Digital Reading: Curation, Not Intake

This month's issue of Educational Leadership focuses on reading, the Common Core Standards, and increasing comprehension for all of our students.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the articles addressed issues regarding digital literacy and its impact on modern readers. After devouring the entire issue in a single sitting, I took a few moments to reflect upon my recent journeys as a reader and writer.

I do a lot of reading, and I do a lot of writing. At this point, most of my reading and writing is digital. I still receive a few hard copy items via professional subscriptions, but I cannot remember the last time I willingly purchased a hard copy text. This has had a significant impact on my reading and writing habits. I would argue that, when used appropriately, digital texts have advantages that cannot be matched by hard copy texts. Do I still enjoy reading hard back books? Well, sure. I just don't reference or remember them as often during the writing process.

In short, I believe there are 3 needs in modern literacy that we cannot ignore as educators.

  1. Digital literacy is not an "option" anymore. Most of the texts that we read each day appear on a screen, complete with embedded media, advertisements, and hyperlinks. Navigating these spaces is required to function successfully in modern society. We should immerse our students in these mediums, and provide them guidance to maximize their learning.
  2. Digital texts foster curation and recall. When I read texts in hard copy, I often annotate using words and images. This helps me to make meaning of the text in the moment that I'm reading it. However, when I read digital texts, my annotations and sketches are automatically added to my intellectual database in Evernote. My database is fully searchable by content and tag. Therefore, when I need citations, information, or ideas to guide my writing, I most often return to the digital sources, ideas, and phrases captured in my database. In short, texts in hard copy make an impact, but digital texts shape my thinking and writing more often.
  3. Teachers need to teach students to digital and hard copy texts equally. Existing resources coupled with teacher comfort levels often reduce the amount of instruction that students receive regarding digital texts. In fact, a teacher recently told me that "you just can't get the same experience from a Kindle as you can from a hardback book." Really? We need to get comfortable with digital texts ourselves and share the process meaningfully with students.

CC Photo Credit: Easy on the Eyes by Mortsan


  1. Hi Kristen,

    1) Do you copy and paste quotes from books in Evernote, or do you have an automated process that send your Kindle highlights and notes directly in?

    2) I find myself taking pictures of hard copies to send in Evernote and allow keyword search.


  2. 1. I use ifttt.com to automate notes from my public kindle feed right to my Evernote. It works well and saves me an extra step.

    2. I too often take pictures of hard copies and send them to Evernote. Digital is much faster though.

    Will I see you at Edcamp Philly this year? Curation session?



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