Digital Texts Teach!

Tomorrow is Digital Learning Day, a day where we celebrate and reflect on the use of technology in the classroom. We want to celebrate this day by writing some blog posts this week about the ways we use technology in our balanced blended learning classrooms.

We believe in the power of the digital text- the photograph, the movie clip, the home video, the website, the advertisement. These digital texts can act as mentor texts in our reading and writing workshops. We believe in balanced blended learning. We love our chart paper, Post-its, and clipboards. But we also love using technology (such as Chromebooks, Zaption, Kahoot, Padlet, and Screencastify) to help differentiate and strengthen our students’ understanding of concepts.

We talk about how to use digital texts and digital bins in our book, Teaching Interpretation. These digital texts help teach students about the literary elements: symbolism, theme, tone, etc.

Below are two examples of how digital texts can be used to teach. For more ideas see our blog posts: La Luna, Shirley the Elephant, Persuasive Writing with Bacon, Friendship Digital BinThe Final Countdown, or our book, Teaching Interpretation.

FIRST EXAMPLE- Reading Workshop

Topic- Inferencing. How does the main character feel?

Teaching Point- You can infer the character’s feelings by paying close attention to their actions/movements and what they are saying.

Digital Text: Girl’s First Ski Jump


SECOND EXAMPLE- Writing Workshop

Topic- Writing a Prophecy

Teaching Point- Writing a prophecy includes what is lacking, what can save them, and what specific signs/details to look for.

Digital Text: Lego Movie


Visit our blog again for more digital texts that can be used to teach reading and writing skills. Digital texts increase engagement, make connections between students’ reading/writing in the classroom and their reading/writing online outside the classroom, and digital texts help make our teaching relevant across a wide variety of texts: digital and print-based. Happy Digital Learning Week, everyone!


Dana Johansen spends her time teaching fifth grade in snowy Connecticut, reading on the couch with her yellow lab, and getting excited for the new season of House of Cards to return. Dana is the co-author of the new book, Flip Your Writing Workshop, due out in April. She believes in balanced blended learning and uses digital texts, flipped lessons, and all things Google to differentiate, be time efficient, and increase her students’ autonomy in the workshop. She has taught elementary and middle school for fourteen years. Dana is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University where she studies blended learning in reading and writing workshop. 

Sonja Cherry-Paul is a member of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee. She has been immersed in reading wonderful books created by authors and illustrators who address themes related to social justice. The best part of this process is sharing these incredible books with her 6th graders and the insightful conversations they spark.  She is co-author of Teaching Interpretation: Using Text-Based Evidence to Construct Meaning and Flip Your Writing Workshop: A Blended Learning Approach. 


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