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Learning to Read in the Computer Age

Learning to Read in the Computer Age

This book reviews the theories and uses of computers for the teaching of reading. It presents information both about computers and about the process of learning to read.


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Sally Robertson
Sally Robertson (Librarian)
11 years ago
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Teacher Education Editorial Board
18 years ago
This item is currently under review by the Teacher Education Editorial Board. 1
Tamarah Ashton
Tamarah Ashton (Faculty)
19 years ago
The authors present a sensible argument for and a detailed description of how
to meaningfully include technology in today's classrooms. This book is the third
in a series entitled "From Reading Research to Practice."
Chapter 1, "Learning, Teaching, and Technology," begins with an overview of
"how" we actually learn to read. This cursory review is a bit naive for anyone
who has previously researched the topic, but for novices and beginning teachers,
this oversimplified breakdown of the many steps required in the reading process
seems potentially helpful and enlightening.
The second part of Chapter 1 lists and explains a number of the positive uses
of computers in today's classrooms. The authors believe that many of the
currently available computer software programs can provide learning experiences
which enhance classroom instruction. Three of the seemingly most important
points they offer are:
o Flexibility is the most important attribute of computers in the
classroom, suiting them to the complexity and individuality of the learning
o Computers can be adapted to present material in many ways and customized
to individual learning styles and needs.
o The interactive quality of computers allows them to engage, motivate,
guide, and support students.
"Developing Reading Recognition," Chapter 2, is not just merely a condensed
version of any reading textbook you might pick up to find out how to teach word
identification skills. As is also the case with the following chapters, Chapter
2 describes how a teacher might effectively incorporate computer technology into
his or her everyday program of reading instruction.
Since "reading software must reflect the same kind of whole-brain,
individualized approach that good teachers use," the authors list four elements
that any quality software package must provide:
o highlighted patterns;
o opportunities for meaningful practice;
o motivation for studentsto learn and practice; and
o acknowledgement of individual differences.
Throughout this chapter, the reader is reminded of the highlighted points from
Chapter 1: software should be evaluated and selected on the basis of how well it
addresses textual patterns, and to what extent it provides opportunities for
practice, exploration, and motivational support.
Chapter 3, "Developing Reading Strategies," outlines how we, as readers, pursue
meaning from text if we are to be successful.
Chapter 4, "Developing Reading Engagement," can be summarized with a most
enlightening statement: "Without new challenges, students become bored;
impossible challenges frustrate and dishearten them. The right level of
challenge at the right time can 'pull in' students the way video games do,
building mastery a step at a time." The authors go on to remind us of seven
points to consider when evaluating the motivational aspects of software. As
always, they recommend we use a variety of programs and web sites in
combination. Software should be selected that:
o provides variable challenges and adjustable supports;
o utilizes engaging multimedia features and rewards that are germane to
reading processes and the meanings of texts;
o respects and emphasizes the pleasures of reading;
o provides tools that students can use to create and publish their own
o provide a broad and varied real-life context for authentic
o invites students to set their own challenges and levels of support; and
o contains or is open to a great variety of texts.
"Technology, Teaching, and Literacies Old and New," Chapter 5, powerfully
reminds us that computers can only help us do what we are trying to achieve,
they cannot do anything for us or change what we do. They are, however,
"redefining what literacy is."
There has never been a prescription for teaching someone to read in the more
traditional sense, just as there is no definitive way to do so in this "computer
age." How we view technology will largely impact our teaching practices.
Teachers who view computers as threats will never see the positive aspects that
could be added to their instruction programs through the use of computers.
"Learning to Read in the Computer Age" challenges us to incorporate technology
into our teaching; improving our instruction and the reading skills of our
students is the ultimate goal.