Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Connecting Comprehension and Technology

I've been very behind on my professional reading and am so glad I have summer to catch up. I picked up a copy of Connecting Comprehension and Technology: Adapt and Extend Toolkit Practices right when it came out. But with my concussion last summer and my ban on reading, I never had a chance to read the book. I love the authors of this book and I love the ideas around it. I have been fans of Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis for a very long time and loved the idea that they partnered with classroom teachers for this new book/toolkit supplement.  I love that this was a book about technology by people who are so committed to literacy learning.

I was bummed that I missed the session focused on these ideas at NCTE this fall but I had a conflict so I couldn't attend. But, in March, I went to MRA and had the opportunity to hear Kristin Ziemke. I was also able to participate in her online workshop through Heinemann this spring.  And in late May, Kristin did a Skype PD with teachers from our building. I loved the thinking and it was so in line with my own thinking--the natural use of technology as a tool and the way that she talked about focusing on the thinking, not the technology. (Maria was part of the Skype visit and shared some of her learning on her blog.)  Kristin and Stephanie are both speaking at All Write so I am hoping to learn more from them there!

So, a few weeks ago, with end of the year things slowing down, I had time to really dig into  Connecting Comprehension and Technology. I  read bits and pieces last year when I got the book but couldn't dig in, mark it up, read it cover to cover. With the added bonus of having heard Kristin speak and seeing photos and conversations from her classroom, I knew I  wanted to spend lots of time with the book. I'm so glad I did. My copy is now sticky noted and marked up and I know I will continue to dig into it over and over again all summer as I think ahead to next fall.

Here are some things I love about the book:

*Even though the book is filled with lessons, it is also about possibilities. The authors share lessons that go along with the Comprehension Toolkit and they can be used as is. They are great lessons and there are many I will try in the fall. But it is the combination of lessons and the stance the teachers in the book share that really set the stage for technology as a tool for thinking.

*There are QR codes that lead to video clips of both Kristin and Katie's classrooms in action. I love that there are examples from a first grade and a fifth grade classroom. The threads of learning are the same and it is so helpful to see what kids are doing at different stages.  The video clips are great and I used a few with my students during the last few weeks of school as we played with back channeling during read aloud, etc. It was a great way to introduce something and let them see how other kids were using it to learn.

*I love the classrooms in the book. The is not a book that focuses on technology. It is a book that focuses on thinking. It is clear from the pictures, lessons, videos, etc. that the classrooms are filled with books and paper and notebooks and conversations...and iPads.

*A few of the lessons really helped me think through ways to support some struggles my kids have had. A favorite is one on distractions on a website--how to navigate a website when there are so many distractions. I had talked to my kids about this but the way these lessons are set up really helped me see that I was talking more about the website than the thinking.  The layout of the lessons helped me think about how to add depth to the learning.

*The book is full of classroom charts, screenshots of webpages, screenshots of student work. It really gives you a vision for what a classroom could be that focuses on thinking, not technology.

This book is a great add on to the Comprehension Toolkit if you have it.  But the book definitely stands alone if you do not own the toolkit.  It's the brilliant thinking about reading and comprehension that Harvey and Goudvis have taught us, with the addition of technology.  This book shows readers what is possible when technology is used as a tool and what can happen if we hold onto best practice and naturally embed digital tools. If you are thinking about technology and literacy, it is definitely one I'd recommend. I have seen lots of books that focus on ways to use technology to support reading but this book really talks about thinking and how to use technology to support that.  That might seem like a minor detail, but for teachers who understand literacy learning it is not minor at all!


  1. Wow Franki!
    Thanks SO MUCH for the awesome review of our book! We hoped this book would guide teachers to recognize that it's all about the thinking and it sounds like that message came through. We appreciate the awesome feedback and look forward to continued collaboration! Many thanks!

  2. Franki,
    I've been wanting to read this one. Thanks for sharing some of the highlights. Of course, now I really want to read it.



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