Get Social with Digital Reading

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While printed books aren’t going away, today’s kids are wired to think digital first. Combined with increasing ways for teachers, students, and authors to interact online, digital reading is allowing students to connect with content on a deeper level. In their presentation, sponsored by Mackin Educational Resources, “The Transformative Power of Digital Reading,” Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair, New Canaan High School (CT), and Jane Lofton, Teacher Librarian “In the Wild,” offered tools and strategies for effective engagement with digital sources.

The first step to effectively using digital reading is for teachers to embrace social reading. This isn’t a new concept—people used to gather together to read books and share stories, and teachers often have kids read aloud to each other in school—but, technology adds a new dimension to the process for authors and readers.

  • Crowd sourcing books: Some authors are publishing chapters online as they write them and soliciting reader feedback.
  • Social media interactions: Many authors regularly hold Q&As and talk to their readers through Twitter and Facebook.
  • Video chats and author presentations: Schools and libraries are bringing author chats to their students through virtual presentations.
  • Shared annotations: Students can read the same version of an eBook and share their comments and notes.
  • Video student presentations: With simple tools, students can make book trailers and presentations to share online with their classmates and others.

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Although many of these techniques can be done with an internet-connected device, there are several companies offering tools to enhance digital reading.

  • Biblionasium: This is a social reading network for kids 6-13. They can read, play games, complete reading challenges, and recommend books.
  • Free Technology for Teachers: Here, teachers can find more free resources and learn how to use tech in the classroom.
  • Goodreads: Teachers can build reading lists and create private groups for students, differentiating any way they choose—interest, grade level, reading level, etc.
  • MackinVIA: This digital content management system provides easy access to eBooks, readalongs, audiobooks, databases, and videos with a single sign on.
  • Sync Audiobooks for Teens: This is a free summer audiobook program for teens.
  • TeachingBooks: An online book resource, this database not only provides information about different books but also connects them to resources to engage the reader.

Most important, the presenters said teachers shouldn’t limit digital reading to books. Newsela offers access to thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, and The Learning Network from the New York Times provides educational resources using the Times’ materials.

Finally, the presenters said that librarians should make sure that the library is featured prominently on the school’s website with user-friendly design and access. Kids need to get excited about what their school library offers, and the website design shouldn’t create barriers.

This edWeb webinar was sponsored by Mackin Educational Resources.

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This article was modified and published by EdScoop.

About the Presenters

Michelle Luhtala, Library Department Chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut, was one of five school librarians named as a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal in 2015. She is the winner of the 2011 “I Love My Librarian” Award and the Library Association’s 2010 Outstanding Librarian Award. The New Canaan High School Library won AASL’s National School Library Program of the year in 2010. Follow Michelle on Twitter @mluhtala.

Jane Lofton, Teacher Librarian “In the Wild,” served as a high school and middle school teacher librarian, before retiring in 2016. She has also served as a part-time instructor in the Rutgers University SC&I pre-service librarian program. She continues to advocate for strong school libraries and support the school library community. Jane is a Google for Education Innovator; a California School Library Association Past President, Honorary Member, and website co-master; and past chair of several AASL committees. She is an enthusiastic lifelong learner, reader, swimmer, traveler, and, most of all, a new grandmother.

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mackin educational resourcesMackin is one of the top providers of library and classroom materials for grades PK-12. Working with over 18,000 publishers and a database of nearly 3 million printed titles, and more than 1.9 million digital titles, Mackin supplies print books, eBooks, online educational databases, audiobooks and video resources to schools around the globe.