As parents and educators, we understand the importance of encouraging our children to be active, rather than passive, readers. When reading stories to young children, we ask lots of questions, fostering text-to-self connections, predicting and inferencing. Teachers often have their emergent readers draw pictures to illustrate their comprehension and opinions about a book.
When students make the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” they are shown many techniques to help them more fully understand written language. They are taught to use text features such as titles, subtitles, bold and italicized words, pictures, captions, bullets and sidebars to introduce and predict the subject matter. We set a purpose for reading and teach the students to monitor their own comprehension by asking questions, making connections, and forming opinions. Most importantly, as the literature and textbooks grow more dense and complex, students are taught to constantly highlight, annotate, draw in the margins, use sticky notes to mark questions about specific content – in other words to fully engage and interact with the targeted material. Using visual, kinesthetic and cerebral processes while reading helps students put information into memory more effectively, as well as pinpointing content that needs more explanation or evaluation.
How then, do these skills translate to 2014 and beyond, when a high percentage of the reading our students do is electronic rather than with traditional books? The good news is that more digital note-taking features are available every day. The bad news is that it takes a little getting used to, requiring motivation for those of us used to good, old-fashioned paper/pencil/post-it methods.
For students reading online, there is a wealth of tools at their disposal.
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