A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Penny Kittle speak about reading and how complex it is for intermediate/senior teachers to teach. Kittle estimates that in 1st year college/university that the average pages a student reads is 500. She proposed that the #1 reason that students drop out after first year is that they can’t keep up with the demand of reading. Meanwhile Don Tapscott tells us in Grown Up Digital that we need to appeal to the multimedia savvy of the NetGeneration students in our classes. How do we balance both of those ideas? Heather Durnin tells us how she does it in her blog post about modifying literature circles in her grade 8 classroom. What I love about Heather’s work is that she’s still focusing on teaching reading, critical analysis and through social interaction (Vygotzky would approve). The students develop their skills in analysis face-to-face with their peers and their teacher, before being accountable to the technology. I suspect that as students hear the types of questions and comments that lead to richer discussion, that in turn their reading becomes stronger as they look for ways to contribute.
What’s the next level? Maybe it’s that the students publish their work to an authentic audience and get feedback. The hardest part of inquiry-based learning for me is to ask really meaningful questions that will lead to critical thinking. I’m at the point where I am conscious of designing my questions to be evaluative ….so that students are developing criteria as well as their analysis, but the questions don’t come naturally to me yet. Is there an app for that? I don’t think so. #teachersrock