Tonight, I have been doing some reading about using student reading journals to extend  thinking and understanding about text. I have been on this “mission” to learn about teaching reading more effectively for about eighteen months now and tonight, I made some connections between literacy teaching and the use of technology to enhance thinking and learning about literacy. 

The article reinforced that we make our own meaning from text and that talk helps us extend our thinking. Conversation with others helps us formulate our response to text or media and explore our own “meaning.” Here is where Twitter comes into my thinking; Earlier tonight, I found myself tweeting in response to viewing Masterchef on TV. I searched for the opinions and ideas of others to gather different perspectives, express my emotions, sort out my confusion and seek validation that people thought or reacted to events/people in the same way that I did. It helped me clarify my thoughts on the text I was viewing and was highly engaging and fun! This is what an effective reading conversation or journal can and should do!

My article went on to propose the use of reading journals for teachers and classmates to communicate, pose questions and gather information about student understanding, thinking about text, life and the world. I recognised that this can also be done electronically via a blog, electronic journal or even using Twitter. It is the conversation that is the key here. We need to engage our students in directed conversations about text and learning to help them make sense of their world and connect and stretch their thinking.

I have also had another recent experience, which reinforced the value of conversation. At #ACEC10~ Digital Diversity conference, I was simultaneously listening/viewing presentations and conversing and listening to other delegates responses via Twitter on my iPhone. It was like being at the lecture and the tutorial at the same time! I shared and build upon my understanding from peers in the room. It helped me gain clarity, see other perspectives and provoked new ideas. It was illuminating. Overall, it reinforced that conversation is powerful and we need to promote this in our schools, whether in person, online commentary or written responses to reading journals. If technology can aid us to do this, we do our students a disservice if we don’t avail ourself of any means available to engage them in the learning conversation.