Archive for February, 2012


e-books

     Like printed text, e-books embrace print and illustrations but are viewed via computer (Larson, 2009). Honestly, reading e-books doesn’t sound that appealing to me because I do not enjoy looking at a computer screen for longer than I have to. I would much rather hold the book than read it off a screen. As Gloria Mark quoted in her post to the NY times, “it’s an escape from my digital devices” (2009, p.7). The whole idea of sitting, staring, and reading an e-book makes me uncomfortable, and so I have not even looked into e-books and the benefits they have for students. I found it sort of ironic that we had this assignment this week because when I went into the library to work after school this week, the librarian was meeting  with a representative from an e-book company that the school is considering purchasing a subscription from. When I checked my school email today, we have a 30 day trial membership, and I am really looking forward to getting more acquainted with e-books and witnessing first-hand the benefits they have on students. 🙂  

     The e-book I watched was Jack and the Box. It was a cute book, and I enjoyed the illustrations. I really liked that you could select the ‘read to me’ option. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think about how much my Kinders would love reading a book like this. They love doing anything with the Smart Board, and when you throw an e-book on the Smart Board, you’ve hit a home run! I bet you won’t be able to peel those kids’  eyes away from that book. Our class really enjoys to be read to, and getting to see the video that goes along with it will blow their mind. I’m so excited for the teacher to introduce some e-books to our class (or maybe me)! 🙂 

      e-books include several features such as video, audio, hyperlinks, and interactive tools (Larson, 2009). These features aid in engagement, comprehension, and motivation. Video helps the book come alive for students. Visualization is a comprehension strategy that we teach students, and a video provides the visual for them. The downside to that is that everybody is seeing the same video. When you read a book, however, everybody visualizes the book differently in their head. Videos do not allow for the reader to “make their own movie.” Audio is a definite advantage in regards to reading the text. This is excellent for beginning, struggling, and reluctant readers. Background audio (i.e., music, sound effects), though, could be distracting to some readers. Hyperlinks can be beneficial because they provide a link to another site that will provide more information on a topic. Hyperlinks can also be a disadvantage because it is very easy to be led to another site for a definition of a word, and then another site for further explanation, and so on, and so on. Before you know it, the reader can be very off task.

     As I watched Inanimate Alice, I found myself feeling very distracted. Theere was a lot of noise in the video (humming, music, sound effects), and I found it hard to concentrate on the reading. It may have been better for me if I turned the audio off, but then I would have missed out on the full affect of an e-book. When there was just one picture on the screen for the video I was fine, but when there were several images at onces I found it very difficult to keep up. The text was typed at a good size, but it would begin flashing sometimes, and I wasn’t always finished reading. That made it difficult to read. I really liked the interactive feature of the e-book. You may have to click on something to move on to the next page or section, and I enjoyed the game where we had to help Alice get dressed. I believe students would really enjoy this aspect of it. I also liked that an icon appeared on the side of the screen after a section in case the reader needed to reread or had a question about something. That prevents students from having to watch the entire e-book over again. Although Inanimate Alice wasn’t my cup of tea, I bet students will love it!

     I believe e-books will benefit our students, and we should strive to incorporate them in our curriculum. e-books may be especially promising in struggling readers because they offer support through mutiple tools and features that will help the struggling student read and comprehend the text. Such features include text size adjustment, dictionary, and note-taking capabilities (Larson, 2010). The note-taking feature is one that I find particularly interesting. It allows a place for students to write down thoughts or questions while they are reading, which will also aid in comprehension. According to Weigel and Gardner, students have begun to focus more on expressing their thoughts and ideas, instead of the mechanics of the writing (2009). I know that mechanics are important in writing, but it is the message they are trying to express that is more important. Sometimes we, myself included, need to remember that. We need to provide students with the instruction and tools they need to be successful readers and writers. This can be achieved through modeling, traditional literature, e-books and its’ numverous features, and by incorporating each students’ interests into the curriculum (Weigel & Gardner, 2009). This will improve student attitude, engagement, and motivation, which will offer a greater chance for success.
 

References

Larson, L. C. (2009). e-Reading and e-Responding: New Tools for the Next Generation of Readers. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 53(3), 255-258.

Larson, L. C. (2010). Digital Readers: The Next Chapter in E-Book Reading and Response. Reading Teacher, 64(1), 15-22. doi:10.1598/RT.64.1.2

Liu, A., Aamodt, S., Wolf, M., Gelernter, D., & Mark, G. (2009, October 14). Does the brain like e-books?. Retrieved from http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/does-the-brain-like-e-books/

Weigel, M., & Gardner, H. (2009). The Best of Both Literacies. Educational Leadership, 66(6), 38-41.

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The One and Only Ivan

What a fantastic book!  I rode the entire emotional rollercoaster with Ivan throughout the entire novel! As I read, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the story. I was definitely deep reading while reading this book. Out of the numerous processes that occur during deep reading, I think the two I used most common were insight and reflection. Although I, as many others probably do, like to think that animal cruelty is not a big problem, this novel helps you realize that it is. The novel gave the reader insight to the animals’ feelings, as well as the cruelty endured, and in turn, a deep reader reflected upon those insights. It makes you reflect on how you would have felt if you were in their situation, and it makes you reflect on your actions and how you have treated animals. They are just like humans – they need food and water to survive, and if they get malnourished, unfortunately they may die.  When I read about the cruelty that some of the animals endured, I began generating ideas of how to incorporate this into a upper-elementary classroom, and perhaps do a service project against the cruelty of animals, such as volunteer at Friends for Animals.

     This novel was different from other typical children’s novels for a few reasons. The chapters and sentences in the book are very short, which make it an easy and quick read. This format would be great for struggling readers because they wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the text that is usually present in a novel. Also, the novel is written in very descriptive language. Many authors try to capture this aspect, but Katherine Applegate is a magnificent descriptive writer. Students can easily visualize the text while they read. In addition, this novel was written from the perspective of Ivan, a gorilla. Most children’s novels have humans as their main characters. Students would love this book. Children love animals, and I think that is what is especially appealing about this novel. Students will be able to relate to at least one of the characters and the emotions they experienced (loneliness, pain, hurt, sadness, friendship), if not more. My kinders couldn’t read it of course, but I could read some parts of the novel aloud. This book could definitely be included with an animal theme, and with it I could discuss the importance of taking care of animals and the proper way to treat them. Children are never too young to learn how they should treat animals. Before or after reading this book, I would tell them that this book was written based on a real gorilla, and I would hold a discussion asking them why they thought the author would write that book. Our schools provide us a link to a few different zoos so that we can watch wildlife in their habitats, and I would definitely incorporate that when teaching the book/theme.

The Hunger Games

     Okay, I’m going to be honest- when I started reading this book I thought it was going to be the most dreadful book I ever read. As I continued to read, however, I got reeled in by the various themes (especially love). I am all for a good romance novel, and as soon as I learned of Katniss and Peeta’s budding romance, it motivated me to keep reading. Another overwhelming theme in the novel is survival. Katniss had to survive on a daily basis before even entering the Hunger Games, so I felt like that game her an advantage in the games. She was skilled with a bow and arrow to hunt and kill prey, she knew which berries and roots were good to eat, she knew how to take care of Peeta, and she was very intelligent about finding hiding places and shelters. The government also played a major role in this novel. The Hunger Games were a “punishment” from the capitol, and the government controlled the game. One of my favorite scenes in the book was after Foxface was killed, they announced there could only be one winner, so Katniss came up with a brilliant plan for them both to eat the poisonous berries and commit suicide. Then, there would be no winner. Although this was a rebellious act, Katniss knew the gamemakers wouldn’t let them go through with this, and they didn’t. Katniss and Peeta were both winners. This scene shows how Katniss used her intelligence and a little rebellion to get what she wanted.

So, why do kids like this trilogy? With the numerous themes found in this book, there’s got to be at least one that is appealing to a child. Also, I enjoyed it because it makes you feel like you are living in a different world, a different time. Children like things that are out of the ordinary.The main reason children like The Hunger Games is because it is well-written literature. Even kids can tell the difference between poorly-written literature and well-written literature.

Reading Habits and Attitudes

     Does Johnny’s Reading Teacher Love to Read? How Teachers’ Personal Reading Habits Affect Instructional Practices (McKool & Gespass, 2009) investigates the relationship between teachers’ personal reading habits and their instructional practice. A study was conducted using sixty-five elementary school teachers to further investigate this relationship by having them respond to a questionnaire which embedded questions related to leisure time reading. The  results of the study showed that teachers reports that they spent an average of 24 minutes per day reading for pleasure. 41% reported less tan 10 minutes of reading per day, and 63% of those reported not pleasure  reading at all. In the entire study, only 7 teachers (11%) reported more than 45 minutes of pleasure reading per day. These results should be very alarming, but they are not. Who has time to read leisurely when there are papers to grade, lessons to plan, laundry to fold, dishes to wash, children to take to sporting events, and anything else that must take priority in your life over leisure reading?!

     The results also found that 47% of teachers used instructional practices associated with extrinsic motivation (rewards), but a teacher who values reading should use both intrinsic (discussing and recommending good books) and extrinsic motivation. The instructional strategies that teachers used most frequently were sustained silent reading and asking oral comprehension questions. Teachers were asked to report which three literacy instructional strategies that they value and used regularly in their classrooms, and numerous results were reported. The three most valued instructional strategies were  teaching comprehension strategies (48% ), guided reading groups (37%), and  reading aloud to their students (28%). A teacher who valued reading, was more likely to use the best  literacy practices. The results of this study indicate that personal reading habits affects instructional practices.

         The Reading Habits and Literacy Attitudes of Inservice and Prospective Teachers (2008) describes a questionnaire survey of 747 students enrolled in a graduate school of education, who are currently teachers or prospective teachers. The purpose of this study was to investigate the fit between curricula and practices. The results of the study showed that aliteracy, the ability to read but a disinterest in personal reading, was a growing problem. Graduate students value the importance of reading, but they do not invest their time into personal reading.

      Teachers are role models for students, and it is very important that we have a passion for reading, and I think for education in general. I may not be an avid reader, but I know the power of reading, and I am a witness to how something as simple as reading can provide you with an opportunity to change the cycle of life that a family has always fallen into. So, no, I wouldn’t say that I am a passionate reader, but I am a passionate educator. I want kids to love reading, but I want them to love math, science, social studies, and all the other aspects of school as well. Do I think that my students can tell I don’t go home and read every night? No! Because I introduce and read every book with excitement and expression, just like it’s the first time I’ve laid eyes on the book. This may be harder to do if I were in a higher grade, but it’s pretty easy to do with children’s stories because I LOVE them! When I finish Grad School in May, my goal is to spend more time reading leisurely. (This won’t be that hard to do since I haven’t been reading at all!) 😀 Honestly, I do feel that having a personal reading relationship yourself makes it more natural to do in school, which would affect your practice. However, I do not think that I use poor practices in class due to my lack of personal reading habit.

References

MCKOOL, S. S., & GESPASS, S. (2009). Does Johnny’s Reading Teacher Love to Read? How Teachers’ Personal Reading Habits Affect Instructional Practices. Literacy Research & Instruction, 483), 264

-276. doi:10.1080/19388070802443700

Nathanson, S., Pruslow, J., & Levitt, R. (2008). The Reading Habits and Literacy Attitudes of Inservice and Prospective Teachers. Journal Of Teacher Education, 59(4), 313-321.