How to Teach Kids to Go from Book to Screen

How to Teach Kids to Go from Book to Screen

How to Teach Kids to Go from Book to Screen

The use of digital books and textbooks has exploded during the pandemic, and it may only be a matter of time before all educational publications go online. This makes it all the more important to continue improving digital reading for students, says literacy educator Tim Shanahan. Instead of trying to make digital technology more like a book, Shanahan wrote, “(Engineers) need to think about how to produce better digital tools. Technological environments can alter reading behavior, so technological scaffolding could be used to slow us down or move us through text more productively. In the future, students could read about history or science from something like a “touch essay,” where words, phrases, and pictures are only revealed when a reader is ready and presses screen to move to the next text. Or perhaps their reading material will be more like a digital New York Times article, in which text, images, videos, and sound clips are spaced out and mixed in different ways.

Addicted to computer phonetics

About two-thirds of American school children cannot read at the grade level. At least partly to blame is a widespread method of teaching reading that dominated classrooms for 40 years, but was not based on scientific evidence about how the brain learns to read: ‘balanced literacy’, and its close cousin ‘whole language’, less emphasis on explicit instruction. in the fundamental skills of reading, leaving many children struggling. But in recent years, a new method with a strong focus on these foundational skills, often referred to as the “science of reading,” has brought sweeping changes to the American education system. Based on decades of scientific evidence, the “science of reading” approach is organized into five areas: phonemic awareness (learning all the sounds of the English language), phonetics (learning how these sounds are attached to letters ), vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.

Learning-to-read apps and digital platforms have the potential to effectively teach some of these foundational skills. They are particularly well suited to phonemic awareness and phonics, making learning letters and sound combinations a game and building skills through practice. Lexia, arguably the most popular digital platform devoted to the science of reading, teaches basic and complex reading skills, like letter and sound mixtures and spelling rules, to the using responsive technology. When learning a specific skill, such as understanding how to read words like meal And sewing with the “ea” vowel combination in the middle, students cannot advance until they have mastered it.

Digital platforms can reinforce some specific reading skills, but it is the teacher who constantly monitors student progress and adjusts instruction as needed.

A new wave of predictive reading platforms goes even further. Companies like Microsoft and SoapBoxLabs envision a world where students can learn to read entirely through a computer. Using AI voice recognition technology, the companies say, these digital platforms can listen attentively to a student’s reading. Then they can identify trouble spots and offer help accordingly.

As digital technology for learning to read trickles into schools — Lexia alone serves more than 3,000 school districts — some reading experts are wary. Research on its effectiveness is limited. While some see technology playing a useful role in reading-related functions like student assessment and even teacher training, many say that when it comes to doing the teaching, humans are superior.

Digital platforms can boost some specific reading skills, says Heidi Beverine-Curry, academic director of teacher training and research organization The Reading League, but it is the teacher who constantly monitors progress. educates and adjusts instruction as needed.

Faith Borkowsky, founder of High Five Literacy, a tutoring and counseling service in Plainview, New York, doesn’t mind reading instructional apps per se. “If it turns out to be a computer program where a few kids could go on and practice a certain skill, I’d be all for it, if that’s what we’re doing,” says- She. But often, that’s not how it happens in the classroom.

In the Long Island schools that Borkowsky works with, students are more likely to do more reading work on laptops because the schools have purchased expensive technology and feel pressured to use it, even if it isn’t. It’s not always the best way to teach reading skills. “What I’ve seen in schools is that they have a curriculum, and they say, ‘Well, we bought it, now we have to use it.’ Districts find it difficult to backtrack after buying expensive programs and materials,” she says.


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