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I would like to have feedback on best ways to prepare University students for 21st Century teaching. I would like the discussion to focus on the TEACHING OF READING STRATEGIES to students in grades 1-8. I am a retired classroom teacher who is now an adjunct at the local university. When I was in my elementary classroom, I used the world as my resource. I taught them to read, by reading emails and collaborative work from penpals world wide. We worked on collaborative projects more times than I can remember. Math, Science and Social studies were the taught the same way....though world wide collaborations and interactions with other teachers and their students. Now that I am at the University level....I want to do the same thing, even better. Suggestions for teaching" reading strategies" to undergrads while making use of web 2.0 tools ? Collaboration at the university level suggestions needed as well.

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Hi Michele,
As a former university instructor I think the key to helping your students learn the value of web 2.0 for teaching reading strategies is to model them yourself as you introduce strategies and ideas. Make a direct connection for them (thinking out loud) telling them how you are using the tool and why it's valuable for reading teachers. Have you seen this great article by Dorothy Burt from the UK who did an action research project on podcasting and reading? Podcasting (even though it's an audio tool) is a fantastic way to draw in reading skills.,871,11746 You can download her entire project from that link. This is a great quote from her abstract: This study observed that the sample group of 27 students involved in podcasting with KPE significantly improved their reading habits and their attitude to reading books during the course of the study. They also improved reading ability (accuracy, comprehension and fluency) as measured by standardised testing. Pupils, parents and teachers alike attributed much of this to the podcasting activities.

Be sure to let us know what you find working for you--it's a really important mission!
Hi Michele -

I would suggest connecting with Mike Searson and Carol James of Kean University. Both are member of the GEC, and big proponents of 21st century learning. They might be able to tell you what teacher educators at their university are doing in terms of this stuff. Do a search under the member tab and their names and contact info should come up.

Hope this helps,

Lucy Gray

Don't want to respond to your questions by asking some of my own, but it will be helpful if I can do so. Are the "reading strategies" that you're teaching to your undergrads for them themselves or strategies that they would be expected to use as future teachers? Also, do you presently have any international colleagues with whom you can connect as you "globalize" the experiences for your students? Finally, are you exploring "reading strategies" in a traditional sense, or a broader 21st c model that might include collaboration (e.g., collaborative writing) as a form of literacy?

If you can help me with some of these issues, I can give you a more informed response.


Mike Searson.
Great Questions!
The reading strategies are intended to be for the students to use as future teachers. Basically a "how to teach reading" sort of thing. I have no international colleagues at the university level. I am trying to get "out of the box " and would love international collaborative experiences for them. I have to teach them how to teach comprehension skills, vocabulary, phonics, but I want to do it in a way that is exciting and 21st Century learning! Any suggestions would be so appreciated.

First, I want to say that your commitment to using a 21st c approach with your students is laudable (esp. if you plan to focus on Web 2.0 tools). Second, your responses make it a bit easier for me to provide you reasonable answers.

For me, and a new program we are developing, the biggest challenge when we speak of 21c. learning to help our students truly develop global perspectives, and the facility to genuinely interact with others from across the world. After all, many of the students we teach (although, not all) have a comfort level with the tools, but may lack a true global perspective. And, if we consider this within a Web 2.0 context, the challenge becomes greater and, I believe, more interesting.

To your questions: 1) In a global context, I’d be less concerned with some of the surface level focus on literacy experiences, e.g., phonics; rather, I’d exploit the richness that you might glean from true global interactions. Here I think of some of the work that Jerome Burg has done with Google trips (see, which would be enhanced by greater participation from those in other countries (and I know that’s’ something Jerome wants to see happen). Perhaps you and your students could contribute to such a project. (BTW, in doing so, I believe that certain decoding skills are enhanced.)

2) The question you ask, are you exploring "reading strategies" in a traditional sense, or a broader 21st c model that might include collaboration (e.g., collaborative writing) as a form of literacy? is a very important one. I don’t think enough is being done in this area, and look at it as a challenge that I’d like to see our new program (Global Education and Innovation) address. Besides, I see the application of Web 2.0 tools, such as the collaborative writing you suggest, as a real opportunity within global communities. Why not have students and teachers from other multiple countries use something like Google Docs and write a collaborative piece together. And, yes, there are plenty of electronic “pen pal” types of opportunities, from Google Chat to Apple iChat, and so on. You can even set up a Ning for a collaborative group that you’re working with.

In the end, I believe that your commitment to get “out of the box,” and teach reading strategies in a global/Web 2.0 environment is a good one, and I’d love to see where this all leads to. For example, I’d love to see a dialogue among English students/teachers and Chinese students/teachers, where one system is phonics-based and the other is pictorial-based. This is about as different as a surface structure can be; yet, the deep structure—the meaning of what they read—is essentially the same. Love to see collaborations over that!

I admit that I’m not sure how good a job teacher education programs are doing in teaching 21st c. literacies, and exploring skills that will better prepare them for the emerging workforce, such as those you mention, e.g., collaborative writing and similar Web 2.0 skills. What place, for example, does (or should) text-messaging language (e.g., IMHO) have in formal ed? Should it actually be taught? (I believe so, especially in colleges of business.) So, you’re a pioneer in some of the work you’re proposing.

3) If you don’t have direct contacts with global partners, I’d suggest that you use resources such as GEC to develop some. You have probably already seen that there are educators from across the world who are participating in this NING. I’m sure that many of them would be interested in working with people like you have want to develop global partnerships. You’ll also find the GEC a good resource for global education information. See some of the suggestions that Lorraine has made. I think you’ll find the people here and in similar social networks to be good resources.

I look forward to following you and others in the dialogue on all of this.


Mike Searson
Thank you for your suggestions! I have explored the GoogleLit Trips and plan to use it. This will be my "8th semester" teaching this course, and I am constantly changing it. As new web resources evolve, I look for new ways to incorporate it into my classes. When I was an elementary classroom teacher I was able to work with teachers and students in Australia, Singapore, England, South Africa, Tasmania, and many other countries. I want to continue to explore reading strategies in both the traditional and broader 21st Century sense. In my first 2 years of teaching the university course I was able to have my students create lessons for students in Australia. The Australian students worked through the lessons and sent us feedback and finished products. It was excellent! Now I am finding that many of my former contacts are bogged down with Educational Politics, as we are here in the US, and are unable to participate as they have in the past.
I want to add that I also work with student teachers. When I go to supervise, I am amazed at how many classroom teachers still do not know/utilize web resources for global activities.
Thank you so much for your suggestions and PLEASE continue to add content to this discussion whenever possible.
FYI here is a link to my former elementary classroom website.

Sounds like you’re already involved in some meaningful activities. Look forward to hearing about your future work. BTW, I am leading a group of educators on a trip to China in March, where we’ll visit a number of schools and other education settings. (For more about this trip, you can visit and .) I usually maintain a blog while engaged in this type of travel ( Love to hear from you and your students while we’re in China. We travel from March 12-23. Perhaps there are some questions you’d like us to ask Chinese educators during our trip?


You will hear from us. Thanks so much for your help!
Hi Michelle,
I supplement the curriculum in a computer lab setting. For my K-1 students I use I'm sure that you have seen this program since it's used widely across the world. I've also used a program called with students at the end of K - 2. My kindergarten and first grade students worked with Tim Bowerbank, the developer of Roy the Zebra via Skype chats, and short audiofiles to give him feedback on some of his interactive games. Over the course of the school year, we watched an 'idea' become an interactive game. What a great experience for the students! They were so proud.
At the upper levels 4-6, I've used the content of the Ocean Challenge program as the basis of my reading and writing across the curriculum lessons. The content of the 'live' program is in blog, photo and podcast format so students are using all of these features to research, gather, report/react to information in a variety of ways. Details of some of the suggested activities are in the Teachers' Guide on the site.
I also use voicethread at all of the grade levels. Oftentimes students react to their favorite/most interesting/difficult part of something that they read by drawing or writing about it in Kid Pix, creating a jpeg and then talking about it in 10 second audiofiles.
Another program that I use with the students is Scratch is a great tool for creating many things including animated illustrations with audio. Here's a sample by a third grader.
Thanks for the suggestions. I have used the lab several time in the past and now after rethinking my approach, I may try to see if we can meet every other week (or at least more often) in the University Lab. I have used Starfall many times in the past as well as a host of interactive games. Your suggestions remind me that I need to use many of my elementary resources with the Univesrity students, as difficult as it may be at times. My main problem is that my approach to teaching is very different than many of their other university instructors. They still want/expect total lectures. PLEASE continue to add content to this discussion as needed. I woul appreciate it and hope more will contribute.
I love the Reading Trails site!
As a current 4th grade teacher my first suggestion would be to lose the term 'strategy/strategies.' Its usefulness in the teaching of reading is very limited and becoming less useful every day. Too many people who don't actually teach reading are using the term for a variety of purposes not related to teaching reading.

Teach kids how to read using the tools that they will be using. Teach teachers how to use the tools that kids will be using to read. Books and magazines are on the list, but where on the list is open to debate.

I'm finding that Moodle is a fabulous tool to teach reading and writing. I think its initial use as a college level tool was only a beginning. I don't want to ask a 9 year old boy or girl to rewrite another paper or correct the scribbles that they've struggled to get on paper if I can help it. I'll use the computer to teach them how to write and read. I'll still teach cursive and neatness in penmanship, but it will be appropriate to the uses of this century, not the last one.

Here's a link to a colleague of mine in the Minneapolis Public Schools, Brock Dubbels, who's using games to teach reading. I've yet to delve too deeply into games; I'm a recovering pinball addict, so I'm cautious about such things. Focus on what the students need and you'll not go wrong.


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