Changing Reading Habits

David Jakes took the recent talk around School 2.0 and did a nice mash-up on the techlearning blog.

So here is my attempt at characterizing School 2.0, driven by ideas from David, Will, Clarence and Jeff:

Unlearning. Relearning. The desire and climate to do both, by all members of the school community in a constant and never-ending self-adjustment dance. Fluid. Moving in a purposeful and positive direction, and with a velocity-never standing still, always in perpetual beta, adapting, with information, conversation, ideas, creativity and contagious energy being delivered via digital tools and networks, all driving the learning experience forward to prepare kids for their world.

Now to me and probably most in the blogosphere this sounds pretty cool. But there is a lot in here that I think the average teacher would look at and go “Uh?”

How do we learn to be adaptable? How do we adapt education to ‘fit’ (for lack of a better word) into a new model?

Mark Ahlness had a great reflective post on Friday on how he is adapting his classroom to meet the needs of his students, his student’s reading habits, and at the same time expanding their knowledge.

I’d been thinking lately how my own reading habits had changed in the last couple of years, with the huge increase in blogs, online news, and so on. When was the last time I actually sat down and read a book? The last time I flew back east to see my family. Yikes! I used to feel guilty about this until I took a closer look at the net of my reading. I read so MUCH more now than I ever used to. But it’s a different kind of reading.

Teachers tease me a lot and ask, “When was the last time you read a book?” I, like Mark, usually have to ponder, and like Mark find it’s usually a time when I’m disconnected. They usually look at me and laugh and tell me I need to read more books. Why? Before blogging and RSS I hardly read anything outside of a couple of educational magazines. A book? I never read them before the web why would I read them now? Long time readers to this blog know I struggle with reading (and writing) but the Read/Write web engages me in the process…and this post is a perfect example. I read, left comments, and now I’m responding. If this was a book, I couldn’t do that…and maybe that’s why I never was a big reader in the first place. I could never stay focused on a book. I’ve tried a ton to read books, make it a chapter never to return. I find my thoughts wondering or I’ll read a page and then have to reread it because I didn’t comprehend a thing on it. The Read/Write web has changed my reading habits. To the point that I actually read…and crave it.

Admittedly I’ve been in a bad mode the past couple of days with the upcoming Tech Fest next week and trying to get everything ready for it. I’ve been stressed and it wasn’t until today at lunch when I walked down to a little cafe that had wireless Internet and told myself that I wasn’t going to ‘work’ but instead take time for myself. So, I opened up my Netvibes page and started reading the some 400 posts I’m back dated on now. I was instantly relaxed.

As I read I was relaxed…that’s not me. I hate reading, can’t stand it…and now it relaxes me. What happened to me? I like to read? I like to write? My teacher’s won’t believe it!

Mark goes on to tell about how he has adapted his Silent Reading time to incorporate this new media:

Silent reading time was one of the only times of the day when I could sit down at my desk, check my email, read through my Bloglines. Feeling guilty, and somehow feeling it was the right thing to do, I’ve turned them loose on blogs – to read. Now this is very different from our blogging time in class. Many wanted to know if they could comment on blogs, even work on their own posts. Nope, I said, this is reading time. OK, fine.

That’s what this is about. Giving people choices…students in this case. Does it really matter if it’s a book or a blog, or a magazine?

So the next time some says to me “When was the last time you read a book?”

I’ll respond with, “When was the last time you read a blog?”

[tags]reading, adapting, school2.0[/tags]

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3 Comments

  1. Jeff, great post. All of a sudden I have a lot to say, probably the first being to defend myself as some lock/step teacher who teaches subjects in little containers – not a good idea in elementary school! So when I say it’s time to READ, not write, I’m having to stop them from writing. For some, writing has become what they want to do above everything else. Breathe. Take in what you wrote. Read at what others are writing. Never in my wildest dreams.

    I’m working on a post along the title lines of “Writing, the insidious narcotic of web 2.0 in our schools” … or something like that :) Enjoy your blogs today! – Mark

  2. Hey Jeff-

    Nice reflective post. Just one thing I wanted to responed to:
    “Does it really matter if it’s a book or a blog, or a magazine?”

    To this I answer, it depends on the purpose. I think reading the classics helps students to identify and discern symbolism. It also can create great tie-ins with with other disciplines. This is the same with other pieces of literature (contemp., post-modern, post-colonial, yada, yada) and magazines (of some sorts).

    At this point blogs that address these kind of literary concerns are few and far between. Of course, blogs have value in other facets that literature does not. So again, I think it just depends on the purpose for reading.

    Head on over to my blog when you get through your 400 netvibes posts :)

    ~Kyle~

  3. Jeff,

    Being older than you, I grew up with books. I was fortunate to have a mother who really promoted reading. I still read books and blogs (about 70 netvibes feeds). I am currently reading A Soldier’s Story to figure out how to develop a unit on sound poems for our US History class, and What is the What because it looks like a great story. I am concerned when I see our high school students not reading much of anything outside of required reading. It makes me sad that they are not expanding their minds and points of view.

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