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Social Networks and Independent Reading 1




Connecting Social Networks and Independent Reading

                  Carrie...
Social Networks & Independent Reading 2

                            The Importance of Independent Reading

       Over th...
Social Networks & Independent Reading 3

                Shelfari Social Networking and Improving Independent Reading

   ...
Social Networks & Independent Reading 4

to ask themselves: “How do we make good judgments? Socially, in terms of recommen...
Social Networks & Independent Reading 5

                                          References

American Reading Company. (...
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Social Networks & Independent Reading

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Social Networks & Independent Reading

  1. 1. Social Networks and Independent Reading 1 Connecting Social Networks and Independent Reading Carrie Mitton Computers as Learning Tools December 2008
  2. 2. Social Networks & Independent Reading 2 The Importance of Independent Reading Over the past decade, much research has been done on the importance of independent reading and its’ correlation to student success. According to Cunningham and Stanovich, the time students spend reading significantly contributes to their acquisition of new vocabulary, spelling skills, fluency, verbal intelligence, and background knowledge—all of which improves reading comprehension (American Reading Company, 2008, para. 4). Anderson, Wilson, and Filding also found that independent reading volume can accurately predict a student’s performance on standardized testing. “Students scoring in the 98th percentile read independently an average of 67 minutes per day while students who score in the 10th percentile read independently for an average of only 10 minutes per day (American Reading Company, 2008, para. 6).” NAEP solidifies those conclusions, as their data also shows that only 28 percent of teens who read less than six pages per day score in the proficient level (American Reading Company, 2008, para. 10). Clearly, one of the most basic ways a teacher can improve a students’ reading ability is to increase the amount of time the student spends reading self-selected texts. Unfortunately, reading volume declines for students over the age of eight, as many kids complain they cannot find enough really good books for boys or girls their age. In fact, Scholastic’s annual Kids and Family Reading Report has concluded that the struggle to find a really good book is one of the main reasons tweens and teens choose not to read for fun. Only 15% of students ages 9-17 selected “don’t like to read” as the cause for their lack of independent reading (2008, p. 6).
  3. 3. Social Networks & Independent Reading 3 Shelfari Social Networking and Improving Independent Reading By participating in a social network, students are connected with others who have similar interests. A student is often introduced to new ideas and learns how their peers around the world view objects, ideas, and events (Childnet International, 2008, p. 14). Social networks also give students a real audience and the opportunity to express their opinions and ideas. They allow students to realize “that their voices matter, that people are listening and responding, and that their ideas count. . .By inviting students to become active participants in the design of their own learning, we teach them how to be active participants in their lives and future careersquot; (Richardson, 2006, p. 129). If finding the perfect independent reading book is the main obstacle to helping students read more, and 89% of students say their favorite books are those they select (not those assigned by teachers), then perhaps Shelfari, a social network for book readers, can help solve the problem (Scholastic, 2008, para. 6). Shelfari.com allows users to create a virtual bookshelf of current, past, and future reads. This function is useful for students who already avidly read, but for the reluctant reader, Shelfari offers even more. It helps users connect with readers who have similar book interests. Most every student has at least two favorite books. When a student adds these books to their virtual shelf, they can read the reviews, view the ratings, participate in discussion, and connect with other readers. Through this network of reading “friends,” students have a greater chance of finding the “perfect” book. In order to benefit from the offerings of Shelfari, students will need to learn to evaluate the reviews posted by their peers world-wide. Before selecting their next book, they will need
  4. 4. Social Networks & Independent Reading 4 to ask themselves: “How do we make good judgments? Socially, in terms of recommendations from people we trust? Cognitively, based on rational argumentation?” (Seely Brown, 2002, para. 19). They will need to learn to nurture and maintain healthy and safe network connections in order to continue finding good books. They must also be able to contribute to the book conversations by posting meaningful and helpful reviews and discussions. Therefore, the use of Shelfari will not only improve the chances that students will be successful in finding a quality independent reading book, but will also improve their writing and communication skills.
  5. 5. Social Networks & Independent Reading 5 References American Reading Company. (2007). Research supports the power of independent reading. Retrieved December 6, 2008 from http://www.americanreadingcompany.com/whyitworks_researchsupport.php Brown, J. S. (February 2002). Growing up digitial: how the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. Retrieved December 5, 2008 from http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/FEB02_Issue/article01.html Childnet International. (2008). Young people and social networking services. Retrieved December 6, 2008 from http://fraser.typepad.com/socialtech/files/fullReport.pdf Richardson, W. (2006). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press. Scholastic Reading Corporation. (2008). 2008 Kids & family reading report: reading in the 21st century: turning the page with technology. Retrieved December 7, 2008 from http://www.scholastic.com/aboutscholastic/news/kfrr08web.pdf

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