Today, due to the development of technologies, people are reading more and more from their devices rather than from books. On the one hand, it is good that people get more opportunities to read these days. Oftentimes, students read works digitally, because it is more convenient to carry one tab with dozens of books on it, than a large heavy book.

However, reading digitally also has its disadvantages. First of all, it is harder to deeply engage into reading when one reads from a device, not from a book. In the meantime, deep reading is essential for the understanding of the text and for getting the best out of it. However, it does not mean that reading digital texts is bad. It only means that the reader needs to apply certain strategies for deeper reading.

After all, it is definite that digital texts will remain in our lives. Therefore, it is important to know how to use them and get as many benefits as we do when we read printed materials. To teachers, the main task is to teach their students how to develop deep reading skills even when they read digitally.

Remember a few important things. First of all, almost all of the deep reading strategies have a goal to teach students to focus on the text they are reading. It will help them better interact with digital texts in the future, as well. Secondly, it is essential to practice deep reading skills in groups to develop collaboration. The discussion is a crucial part of the teaching process and it works better for most students than the programs that isolate kids on their personal computers. Thirdly, it is important to be a good teacher. If this skill is absent, nothing will repair the situation.

Reading on Paper vs. Reading Digitally

First and foremost, let us see how reading digital texts is different from reading printed materials.

  • According to several studies, when students read online, they understand less of the text
  • Reading on paper allows a reader to touch the material in a more literal way: they can flip the pages, write their notes in the margins, or recall a scene based on where it was on a page
  • Reading online is a less linear experience; therefore, a student needs to have more self-control to concentrate on the material that seems to be more like a stream of consciousness

The key to helping students read the digital text more deeply is to teach them to locate principal ideas and break down a difficult text into parts. These extremely valuable skills need to be practiced in the classroom. They can be followed in four steps: focus, active engagement, oral discussion, and reflection.

"Headings and Highlight" Strategy

For this strategy, the teacher and their students are going to use Google Docs. At the first stage, it is essential to make sure that all the students understand the vocabulary of the text they are reading. After that, the teacher can ask students to divide into pairs, read part of the text together, and find its principal ideas. While doing these things, they are asked to reflect on why they think these ideas are important. Then the students will have to write their answers into a Google Doc to compare them to those found by other pairs. The next stage of the task is to discuss the highlighted ideas. At this stage, students will have to explain why they think that the ideas they saw were the most important.

Afterwards, students are divided into groups of four (two pairs in each) to discuss the results and create headings for each part of the text. The final stage of the task is to ask the groups of students present their ideas in front of the class and then vote on the best heading. Going through these stages, all students are sure to understand the meaning of the text they were reading and develop very good deep reading skills.

Some teachers may ask why they need to use Google Docs for this task. The point is that it allows to alter the heading numerous times and maintain the sheet clean and understandable. Moreover, students can save the result of their work in a way that is easy-to-review. Another reason is helping students better apply technology to their deep reading skills. Implementing this kind of task on a regular basis, students can learn to identify main ideas in each part of the text, comprehend their flow and make connections. What is more, when a student implements this task, the teacher can easily see if they actually understood the text.

Highlighting Strategy

Highlighting has always been a common tool for reading and comprehending a printed text. However, as we all know, sometimes it does the opposite and creates a mess in the text, especially if too many parts are highlighted and too many colors are used. Today, due to Google Docs, highlighting can become a much more convenient tool to use. Utilizing a highlighter tool, a student can use different colors for highlighting different arguments (for example, red for the statements that prove argument 1 and green for those that support argument 2).

Afterwards, the student can create a table that will contain all the highlighted statements organized in a comprehensive manner. The student can also label different colors to later explore the information they highlighted and easily find everything they need. Apart from having better-organized study materials, students will learn consolidation and reflection skills while implementing this task. Needless to say, they will comprehend the text much better.

The two strategies described above can help teachers build the studying process in a way to help their students better understand the texts they are reading and develop the automatic skills that they will need in the future.