English - Time to ditch the hard copy

Tes Editorial

What it's all about

Parents' evening. The familiar cry goes up: "I just can't get him to read a book at all!" Or worse: "She used to love reading", with its implication that I have killed off any love of literature, writes Julie Greenhough.

Imagine the horror when I suggest that they encourage their child to read online.

We read differently now. Reading is no longer linear and linguistic. New combinations of words and images are altering the literacy landscape. Pupils are intensely involved in multi-modal textual practices, and their experiences of reading are no longer just paper-based. Sitting still with a book isn't going to work.

So, you could encourage reading from an e-book reader. My Year 9s (S2s) have been engrossed in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, free to download and easy to annotate on screen.

Or you could encourage them to join a reading group - online. Setting up a reading group on the social network site ning.com takes minutes and the cost is tiny. Instead of meeting once a week in a classroom, we met online whenever we wanted to talk about books, beginning with Zamyatin's We.

We set up a group of 12-20 pupils from throughout secondary. They made postings at all times of the day and night, commenting on one another's postings and having discussions. They added photos, images, cartoons, links to videos, hyperlinks, podcasts and blogs.

Security was vital. Getting email alerts every time a comment is made allows you to monitor acceptable postings.

So, put down that book and turn on the screen.

What else?

Project Gutenberg shares over 12,000 e-books ready to use in the classroom today.

Get students to become digital producers with a podcasting project from Big Bear.

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Tes Editorial

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