Chapter 4: Moving Teens Toward Connected Reading

A Snapshot of Teen Readers Today

"If we, as teachers, focused more on the how of reading, our students experiences in school would more clearly resemble their experience out of school. We would help them develop their competence, which would in turn make them better able to meet the challenge of the texts we ask them to read" (Smith and Wilhelm, 2002).

Student Profiles from Appendix C:

Revised Survey from Appendix B:

Flexibility in Context

Many adolescents move between school and personal types of reading, as well as between print and digital texts, as seen in Figure 4.1

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A variety of factors influence whether teens chose print or digital texts, including availability of type of text, eyestrain and lighting, convenience, and content. This fluidity across contexts suggests students could make these shifts in schools if we encouraged them to do so.

The Nature of the Texts

Texts can be broken down into short, mid, and long-form texts. Each form presents new challenges and choices for readers. Being able to switch between forms is an important practice of Connected Readers.

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Practices of Connected Reading

We have found that many teens have strategies for engaging in digital texts, but often are overwhelmed and distracted by the Internet's possibilities. Teachers must help students learn to engage in mindful digital reading practices.

Encountering a Digital Text

Chapter 3 Definition Refresher:

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From the adolescents we studied, it seems that they consume a lot of digital text but do not do so mindfully. They may not realize that digital tools can help them stay focused on a given purpose, which reduces the risk of distraction.

Engaging with a Digital Text

Deciding and Curating

Teens find articles in a variety of ways, from scans of social media feeds to purposefully looking up something. Very few students save texts for later and this lack of intentionality in curating may be linked to the fact that most of them do their curating in the moment. Without intentional decision making, students may miss important digital texts and become distracted.


Students scan, summarize, and take notes to tackle difficult digital texts. This shows the fluidity of reading across digital and print texts and the ability to draw on print strategies when reading digitally. For example:

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Connected Reading allows for a wider range of sharing readings and responses to readings through digital tools such as social networks, blogs, emails, and book based social websites such as Qoutev and BookTube.

Evaluating throughout Reading

We define evaluating as it relates to reading practices, both print and digital. It is as a process, sometimes instantaneous and sometimes lengthy, of placing value on a text.