Friday, January 29, 2010

Reading and Writing in the 21st Century

Tomorrow morning I will give a presentation to the Texas Alliance of Accredited Private Schools on the very lofty and all-encompassing topic that I repeat as the title of this blog. I hope to raise some questions and stir some discussion about how our students actually go about the business of reading and writing as they learn. I will ask some very simple questions.

What's the difference between reading a paperback copy of Jane Eyre, a digital text of the novel, or the digital text of the novel marked up in Diigo and shared with "friends" on Facebook? What's the difference between writing a standard critical analysis of the novel on a word processor and sharing ideas about the novel (with hyperlinks, images, and comments) in a blog? I ultimately ask, partly rhetorically and partly probing for deeper answers, why do we still teach in just one way with these developments in mind. How are we serving our students? What do we owe them as they negotiate these new tools on their own?

I still have a stack of paperback books by my bedside (and a pen to mark them up), but I am also excited by the possibilities for reading and writing suggested by the new iPad. I don't have to settle for just one, do I?


  1. Interesting post...would love to see your presentation. Any chance of posting it on the web? Your link to 'diigo' returns an error. I would recommend using as the link.

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  3. Thanks, Mike. I made the correction you suggested. I am not posting the presentation on the web because I have not secured appropriate permission for all the images. But I can send you a link to a Google doc via email.

    The discussion went well! I believe I got some teachers to give some thought to these important issues.

  4. Our chemistry teacher approached me earlier in the year complaining that she couldn't get her students to do "close, analytical" reading of resources. I shared Diigo with her and we talked about ways of modeling the "close, analytical" type of reading she suggested as well as methods of engaging her class in the process. Diigo is a dream tool for teachers who want the teach students to "drill down" into an article. She now can share an article with sticky notes that pose questions and help students understand the organizational structure of a chemistry resource. Diigo is a gem!