Posts Tagged ‘Personal Experiences’
While doing research on Morgana leFay in an undergraduate library, the sun highlighted bans of dust and the library cat sat on the table, watching me pour over a pile of library books needed for a Medieval Lit class paper. The difference between newer books (smooth print, formatted with adequately kerned and tracked sentences) versus old (rougher, brittle pages that had old looking fonts and single spaced) could be reduced to a musty smell of stale Cheerios. I looked for a page that seemed to be not there. Was it ripped out? I flipped back and forth between pages, looking for consecutive paging. And then I remembered the Great Gatsby, with Jay Gatsby’s library full of “uncut” books. Later, I ripped open the page with a dinner knife – and found what I needed folded in between a bound page. My tactile experience with books, 20 years ago, doesn’t negate today’s convenience of googling research to find needed support for argument, especially during a library’s closed hours.
Yet there are those who still prefer “real” books over e-books, especially parents of young children who admit to a double-standard – they are avid digital readers yet want the tactile benefits of books, including bedtime cuddles.
Others say that we need more research before taking an either-or-stand. As debate rages on about the value of ebooks versus real books, the Cooney Center aims “to foster a productive dialogue about digital media and our kids” and the researchers who first posed the question of our report “Print Books vs. E-books” – sought to “measure levels of engagement — between parent and child, and with the book itself.”
Although parents and educators may feel strongly for either bound or electronic books, the bottom line for both is enjoying reading and increasing reading skills. We really don’t need to stand behind an either-or mentality, as hardcopy books and text media are integral part of our life. I would bet money that school libraries won’t ever go paperless, but schools are successfully using electronic reading programs, such as Big Universe (read about one teacher who integrates both in her classroom).
The value in shared reading, and a cuddle quotient, remains in the hands of readers – using hard copy books, ipads and electronic readers. In an unlikely, but shared reading experience, my sons gather round the computer and the three of us work on religion class survey-type questions and answers on mass and book readings (accessible through pdf) – sometimes with appropriate video clips. This however is not relaxed reading, but homework, yet I have to admit, to my own surprise, that they don’t treat it as work. There is a place for real books in our lives – and alternative reading mediums. Time to make room for both.
“Tablet PC Computer And Books” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is an updated version of a post I wrote for the PBS Parents blog Booklights as part of my “Bookworm Basics” series. The original article appeared in July 2010. Although geared toward parents, teachers and librarians may find these posts valuable as hand-outs on back-to-school nights or for sharing in parent-teacher conferences, or even on their classroom blogs!
When I was growing up, my brothers and I shared a set of World Book encyclopedias. Remember them? By Grad School we were all relying on Microsoft Encarta … 20+ volumes condensed to a pair of compact discs (CDs).
Now, you don’t even need that! Data reliability not withstanding, anything you want to know about can be found with just a few clicks of the keyboard. My now 10-year-old thinks that every answer in the Universe comes from a computer screen. I love to surf the Net as much as the next person, and I have been known to send a query into the Interwebs when a question pops into my mind.
That said, I still love having a reference book close by. There is something fun about turning pages to find things. Holding a picture of a big hairy spider is completely different than staring at one on the screen. You can’t put a price on “ew, yuck!”
Hands-on exploring is also more likely to lead to new discoveries – and more concrete recognition – than following a search path on the Worldwide Web. That’s why its helpful to have books that have answers close at hand, for homework and recreational learning alike.
Here are several references are important to your child’s bookshelf that will grow with them as they learn. First you’ll be guiding them, but soon they’ll be finding things – and randomly exploring images – by themselves.
An illustrated dictionary
Pictures and large fonts make an illustrated dictionary an accessible tool for elementary-aged students. Because of their versatility, dictionaries are natural first research books for emerging and newly independent readers alike.
Not long after readers start putting words together, they learn how to sort them alphabetically. As readers become more experienced and their content learning expands, the dictionary will also help them find the meaning of words, as well as learn parts of speech, word origins, and pronunciation, too.
A Big Book of Answers
Although we may not need (or have room for) that 20-volume set of books anymore, kids still have lots of questions. It’s nice to have a go-to reference that covers the basics of the history, science, geography, and social studies they will be learning about in those early elementary years.
Even when school’s not in session, that one-volume illustrated encyclopedia can answer basic questions or whet their appetite to learn more and lead them to other subject-specific nonfiction books. Many books often have links to additional tools that go with the particular product at the back.
Mapping the World: An Atlas
As early as first grade students are learning about the world around them. Sometimes its as simple as knowing where a place is (or was) on a map, and sometimes its about the culture.
A multi-faceted atlas or gazetteer not only has maps with geographic boundaries and terrain features, but also adds context to who the people are, their cultural identity, and political features.
Illustrated reference books are designed for exploring. Because there is no worry about reading everything cover to cover, your kids may be more likely to pick up the book “just because.” They can start with an idea and begin research or just pick a page and go.
Having a reference book handy is also a great way to encourage kids to find the answer themselves, rather than ask you to define a word, tell them if there really is a Transylvania, etc. Just watch out for spiders!
World Book photo by TreeWhisperer on Flickr.
The cover images for the encyclopedia and dictionary link to the Cybils affiliate via Amazon.com; the atlas links to the Reading Tub affiliate. Purchases made through these links may benefit the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Awards program or The Reading Tub. They are provided for convenience only and do not constitute a purchase requirement or recommendation.
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how to continuously engage my students in their learning. Ok, let’s face it, that is something I’m constantly thinking about. I bet we all are! We want our students to be invested and interested in what they are doing, and when they are engaged with the material they are working on, great things happen.
Motivated learners are the ultimate and I’m finding that on Big Universe, my students are naturally motivated and engaged. Recently, I posed a writing challenge to some of my students. They are currently working in groups on writing and publishing an ebook on a math concept of their choice. With very little assistance from me, all the students (10 of them) are collaboratively working every moment they can during the day.
Still some of my students have really found a hook into reading through the variety of books on the site. One girl has built a bookshelf of history books to peruse. Another has great fictional books about adolescence – chapter books that she keeps returning to at various times in the day. One boy has built a heafty bookshelf on all sorts of topics and loves sharing it with others by sending messages to his classmates.
It’s a new type of engagement with literacy, a 21st century engagement where students interact with technology and social media in a safe environment and share in the enjoyment and excitement that literacy can bring.
At least once a week, our class takes a trip to our Computer Clubhouse to use the computers and Big Universe freely. My students covet this time and are very disappointed if the time is cut short. Many read a new text, some work on writing an ebook and of course they all want to send messages to each other both personally and virtually. During that time, we are working on balancing out what we do. In our 30 minutes, I ask that students don’t just take advantage of the social media features, but find something that will engage them for 10-20 minutes. It takes some stamina building, but the kids love the practice because of the pure motivational and engaging value of working online.
Reading has been on the top of my priorities recently; more so than in the past. I’ve been weeding through my classroom library, talking more about books to my students, encouraging good reading habits at home, providing time for them to read in class and on Big Universe and overall, making sure that reading is at the forefront of my classroom.
Just a couple of days ago, there was a #4thchat Twitter chat centered around struggling readers. During that time, Mike McQueen of www.readingontherun.com tweeted to me stating, “Many Struggling Readers prefer nonfiction but are smothered in fiction daily.” That got me thinking about my own students. Do I provide enough balance in my classroom between fiction and non-fiction? Do I provide a variety of genres and texts for my students to read?
I know of one of my students whose parents came to me concerned that he was only reading non-fiction texts. My reply was, “If he is reading on his own and enjoying it, let him. We will be introducing him to a variety of texts in the classroom as well.”
Students come to us with their own interests and their own talents. Our job is to constantly challenge them with what they know and love and push them to experience new things. This is very true with reading. Whether we are using traditional texts: books, magazines, articles, storybooks, or online resources: online articles, searched information, the ebooks on Big Universe or a mixture of the two, our goal should be to get students interested in and reading a variety of texts.
How do you make sure your students are reading a variety of texts?
What a great find at BigUniverse.com, a book about peacocks! Many people travel to the zoo to see peacocks. But I have one that lives in my neighborhood. Sometimes I see the peacock walking down the sidewalk. It makes me smile when the peacock comes to visit at my door! It is always a treat to see the tail feathers fanned out. If you can’t see a peacock anytime soon, you can read this book full of great pictures of peacocks.
Try to compare and contrast the pictures in the book with the photo below.
Local peacock wanders neighborhood.
Remember to check BigUniverse.com for other books about animals.