Shallow or Deep Reading? by Bob Sprankle

5/24/2012 1:55:00 AM

I am 75% of the way through Nicholas Carr's The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains and my own brain is buzzing from the questions and research he offers up. I'm not going to spoil the book for you (even though I HIGHLY recommend it, I'm not ready to give my final review), but one thing he shines a light on is that when we read on the Internet, it is a very distracted reading, usually consisting more of "skimming" and jumping around with link after link. This "jumping around" is further interrupted by email and texting and Facebook checking, etc. and stands in the way for any real immersion into the text.

Juxtaposed with this "shallow" reading, is reading that is free of those distractions, such as when reading a book. While most of us probably are aware of these distractions, are we truly cognizant of our reading habits during "shallow" reading? I'm also about 25% of the way through Howard Rheingold's book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online (also HIGHLY recommended). Rheingold argues that we're probably not aware of just how distracted we actually are and offers up the solution of teaching ourselves (and our students) how to be "mindful" and stay true to our purpose of and intention when we're on the Internet. So... are you reading, or jumping around? Are you writing, or easily interrupted to go fetch the latest email when it sounds it's Pavlovian chime?

At this point, in both my current spots of the books, I am thinking that we need to explicitly teach our students the difference between "Shallow" (Carr's term) and "Deep" reading. I believe there is a place for both (and whether we like it or not, more and more of our text will inevitably become digital). We need to tell our students, for instance, when we're doing Google Searches, "This is shallow reading." We need to demonstrate what's happening in our own heads as we search, how we ourselves get distracted, and what tools we use to stay focused. A tool I've long been pushing is Readability (http://www.readability.com/) which helps to make a page simple, stripping away all distractions.

When we are "Deep" reading, we need to also show students how we avoid distractions, how we allow for more time for deep reading, how we find quiet places to read, how we lose ourselves in the writing. Most likely, we'll be using books (electronic or paper) or magazines to demonstrate this with.

Both types of reading have been here long before the Internet arrived. We've all "browsed" bookstores before (it's a wonderful and pleasurable activity for me still, getting lost in the stacks). We skim newspapers and menus. We quickly gather the gist of a placard at a museum as our 5 year old pulls us away to see something else that's awesome at the museum. There's nothing wrong with those ways of reading that come under the "Shallow" category; but should they dominate our reading?

With media becoming ever more staccato (Twitter, Ads on Web Pages, Facebook, Shorter text on web pages), I believe we need to show that there must be a balance of both types of reading.

Many schools have done away with Silent Reading because some believe it's a waste of time: "How do you know they're actually reading?" some ask. (Answer: ask the student what they read about after they've read it). But I think long, sustained Silent Reading time is more crucial than ever. We as teachers should join in on the Silent Reading and explicitly show what "Deep" Reading looks like.

I think there are other things to consider beyond what I've read from Carr so far. For instance, Internet or not, I cannot read deeply on a computer screen. I don't know if it's the distance (the computer is farther away from me), the fact that I am glued to a chair, or the brightness of the screen. Porting long articles over to my iPad has helped me incredibly with reading electronic text "Deeper." However, my Kindle Touch is the ultimate because all distractions are stripped away. To me, it's actually better than a book: I can control the font size and all it takes is one flick of a thumb to turn the page (books can be much more cumbersome).

Are any of you able to read an entire book on a desktop computer? How about a laptop? Do you find yourself easily distracted? Are you aware of how much you are distracted if in fact you are?

Is this something that we need to explicitly teach our students to identify: finding the balance from "Shallow" and interrupted reading, and "Deep" uninterrupted reading?

Thanks for "skimming" this article (according to Carr, that's what most of you did). I'd love to hear your input.

comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...