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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

How Do Sixth Graders REALLY Feel About Reading and "Devices"?

What am I going to do with two computers and 32 kids per class? Nothing, on a daily or regular basis. I use them mainly when kids need technology to accommodate learning issues such as motor dyspraxia, an inability to use fine motor skills; the computers dictate written lessons.
Forget the stereotypical image of a “born digital” kid permanently attached to a digital device, fluent in all things technological. Here’s my reality, with data from the sixth-grade trenches at St. Michael School in Livonia, Michigan.

Let me start by reiterating that tweens are not teens; older tweens are not younger tweens. I know from experience and observation that the 10 to 12.5 age group has unique circumstances and challenges when it comes to reading with technology (or not).

This year, for a deeper dive, I introduced an anonymous attitude survey, in addition to my annual reading interest survey. The attitude survey measures how my three fresh classes of sixth graders (96 of them) feel about print versus digital reading, including their use of digital devices (or not).

They took this online survey a couple weeks ago in computer class, which has one computer per kid. (My classroom has only two computers for student use.) What I learned from the results is that tweens generally have some level of access to devices—tablets, ereaders, desktops, laptops, smartphones. But, on the whole, they don’t own the devices or use them frequently (yet).

In my classes, many tweens tend to get their first cell phone or (if they’re lucky) smart phone and perhaps a tablet at Christmas time. Tweens with older siblings tell me that they are at the bottom of the totem pole and often get pushed off the family computer. So, in response, I give out any online assignments far in advance and include a back-up plan to allow students to complete computer work before or after school or at lunch time, if necessary.

Here are the results from this year’s survey, for data geeks, along with some interesting and thought-provoking comments about reading, for those who (like me) make that their mission. Read More 
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