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3 Connected Reading Practices

This text is excerpted from Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World by Kristen Hawley Turner and Troy Hicks. (NCTE, 2015). 

We know that readers bring to texts both experiences and skills that will shape their interpretations. We know that motivation and interest matter. And we know that the difficulty of a text, or the specific textual features present, will affect the process of comprehension.

However, we also know that the number of choices that readers in a digital world must make with any particular text is growing exponentially. Texts come in many forms, and contexts for reading are shaped by a network of other readers.

To account for the growing number of texts available to readers (in both quantity and types) and the complicated decisions associated with reading them, we present in Figure 2.1 a model of Connected Reading in a Digital Age.

Connected Reading Model: Figure 1.2 from Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World
Figure 2.1. Connected Reading model

We hope you notice two key features of the model. First, it is not linear, and second, multiple readers are represented. These features get at the heart of what readers do in a digital world. They are connected to one another through a network, receiving and sharing texts according to purpose and context, and their processes are recursive.

We identify three primary practices of Connected Readers, each of which can be broken down into subpractices:

  1. Encountering—the manner in which a reader will first make contact with a text. Teens in our research described at least four practices for initially encountering a text, including receiving, searching, surfing, and stumbling.
  2. Engaging—the activities that happen before, during, and after a reader reads a text. Again, teens shared a variety of actions that we have condensed into acts of deciding, curating, reading, and sharing.
  3. Evaluating—the act of finding value in a text. In this sense, we refer to evaluation not in the typical sense that it is used in school (to place judgment upon, as a grade) but in the sense that a reader can find various types of value in a text. In other words, how important is this text to this reader? In the process of evaluation, teens would consider their overall interest, critique the text itself, employ digital tools to engage with the text, and choose to manage distraction (or not) based on how much they valued the text.

Evaluating and engaging, in particular, do not happen in isolated stages; rather, readers constantly evaluate as they decide, curate, read, and share.

Read in-depth recommendations about how to teach adolescents to read all types of texts effectively in Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World, available from NCTE.