“Scrolling may work for social media, but experts say that for school assignments, kids learn better if they slow down their reading.” P. Klass, M.D., The New York Times, March 16, 2021
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“In this pandemic year, parents have been watching — often anxiously — their children’s increasing reliance on screens for every aspect of their education. It can feel as if there’s no turning back to the time when learning involved hitting the actual books. But the format children read in can make a difference in terms of how they absorb information.
Naomi Baron, who is professor emerita of linguistics at American University and author of a new book,“How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen and Audio,” said, ‘there are two components, the physical medium and the mind-set we bring to reading on that medium — and everything else sort of follows from that.’
Because we use screens for social purposes and for amusement, we all — adults and children — get used to absorbing online material, much of which was designed to be read quickly and casually, without much effort.
And then we tend to use that same approach to on-screen reading with harder material that we need to learn from, to slow down with, to absorb more carefully. A result can be that we don’t give that material the right kind of attention…Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental behavioral pediatrician who is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, said that apps designed to teach reading in the early years of school rely on ‘gamification meant to keep children engaged.’ And though they do successfully teach core skills, she said, ‘what has been missing in remote schooling is the classroom context, the teacher as meaning maker, to tie it all together, helping it be more meaningful to you, not just a bunch of curricular components you’ve mastered.’
Any time that parents are able to engage with family reading time is good, using whatever medium works best for them, said Dr. Tiffany Munzer, also a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Mott Children’s Hospital, who has studied how young children use e-books.
However, Dr. Munzer was the lead author on a 2019 study that found that parents and toddlers spoke less overall, and also spoke less about the story when they were looking at electronic books compared with print books, and another study that showed less social back-and-forth — the toddlers were more likely to be using the screens by themselves…Dr. Radesky, who was involved in the research projects with Dr. Munzer, talked about the importance of helping children master reading that goes beyond specific remembered details — words or characters or events — so a child is ‘able to integrate knowledge gained from the story with life experience.’ And again, she said, that isn’t what is stressed in digital design. ‘Stuff that makes you think, makes you slow down and process things deeply, doesn’t sell, doesn’t get the most clicks,’ she said…Parents can help with this when their children are young, Dr. Radesky said, by discussing the story and asking the questions that help children draw those connections.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Directions: Have students list the similarities and differences between two things or ideas. Have students share their ideas with the class. The chart is from ReadWriteThink.org
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Scrolling works for social media.
- The format children read in can make a difference in terms of how they absorb information.
- We use screens mainly for social purposes and for amusement.
- Many educators believe fervently in the value of reading print books to young children.
- Many apps and e-books have too many distractions.
- Reading apps are just a bunch of curricular components children have mastered.
- Apps have all these visually salient features which distracts from the core content.
- It should be the job of the software developers to design electronic books that encourage language and interactions.
- When kids enter digital spaces, they have access to an infinite number of platforms and websites.
- Professor Baron said that in an ideal world, children would learn how to read contiguous text for enjoyment.
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.
In/On elementary school their/there’s an/and opportunity to/too start a/an conversation about the advantage/advantages of the different media: It goes/go for print, gone/goes for an/a digital screen, goes for audio, goes for video, they all have/had their/there uses — we need two/to make kids aware/awareness that knot/not all media are best suited to/too all purposes.
Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “there are two components, the physical medium and the mind-set we bring to reading on that medium — and everything else sort of follows from that.”
- “…apps designed to teach reading in the early years of school rely on gamification meant to keep children engaged.”
- “What has been missing in remote schooling is the classroom context, the teacher as meaning maker, to tie it all together, helping it be more meaningful to you, not just a bunch of curricular components you’ve mastered.”
- “In an ideal world, children would learn “how to read contiguous text for enjoyment, how to stop, how to reflect.”
- “Any time that parents are able to engage with family reading time is good, using whatever medium works best for them.”
- “With younger children it makes sense to stick with print to the extent that it is possible.”
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- Do you prefer reading online or reading actual books? Why?
- In your opinion, which is better for young children, reading books or reading online? Why?
- According to the article what are the two main purposes for online reading?
- Why are print books better for parents and children?
- What is dialogic reading?
- What is missing in online schooling for children?
- According to a 2019 study, what happens when parents and children read electronic books compared to reading print books?
- According to Dr. Radesky why is metacognition important for children to develop?
- After reading this article write down three new ideas you have learned about this topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing that you would like to know that the article did not mention.