Why is Math Taught Differently Now?

What is “new math” or Common Core math? One example is this “new math” check floating around the internet. Do you know how much is it written for?


According to an article by Hemant Mehta, the check writer (Doug Herrmann) didn’t actually understand what he was talking about so it’s for two different amounts. In the box where you write the amount, the ten-frame is wrong—it’s written as an non-existent eight-frame. However, if some logic is applied, the amount is $8.43. The line where you write out the amount in nice cursive? It’s written with a correct ten-frame box—$10.43. By the way, Mehta assumes the system of 0’s/circles and X’s is $0.43. He’s not really sure since the system appears to be Herrmann’s own creation. I assume it’s based off separate method for illustrating/explaining math.

Don’t understand ten-frames? I highly recommend reading Mehta’s article, The Dad Who Wrote a Check Using “Common Core” Math Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About. Mehta explains what a ten-frame is, as well as how to use it. He also reinforces that Common Core is a set of standards, not a curriculum .Article Bonus: Mehta compares new math to Food Network’s Chopped.

So, why is math taught differently now? You need your brain to think, not to compute. That’s what the device(s) you carry around all day are for! “New math” or “common core math” teaches students multiple methods and the reasoning behind it before getting to shortcuts. Plus, you use it every day to make change (if you still use cash!)

Want a more visual explanation? Dr. Raj Shah explains why there has been a shift in mathematics education.

Why is Math Different Now from raj shah on Vimeo.

Dr. Raj Shah explains why math is taught differently than it was in the past and helps address parents’ misconceptions about the “new math”.

Dr. Shah is the owner and founder of Math Plus Academy (www.mathplusacademy.com) an academic enrichment program with two locations in Columbus, Ohio. Math Plus Academy offers class in math, robotics, programming and chess for kids from KG to 9th grade. Math Plus Academy is on a mission to show kids the joy of mathematics and science.

Article: “Why Ed Tech is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach”

Published today, on Education Week: “Why Ed Tech is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach“.

The article explains that while technology is in the classroom and schools, many teachers have not embraced the full vision set forth by edtech enthusiasts. What’s the holdup?

  1. Teacher beliefs/philosophies regard effective instruction
  2. Inadequate professional development on new technologies and technology integration in the classroom.
  3. School polices that don’t encourage effective experimenting by teachers in order to fully explain, troubleshoot, and use technology to its full potential for their particular subject
  4. Teachers use technology for teacher-driven instruction rather than student-driven instruction (i.e. use if for themselves or an end-unit project rather than have students discover and learn content for the first time using technology).
  5. Standardized testing reinforces a more teacher-driven instruction style.

So in other words, while the new, hip teachers want to integrate technology, the older, veteran teachers discourage that behavior because “that’s not how we teach here”. This idea is then reinforced through inadequate professional development and a lack of support by administration. Therefore, they revert back to teacher-driven instruction while they dream of student-driven instruction in order keep their job that is dependent on standardized test scores. In 5 years, these new teachers will no longer be okay with the suppression of expression and desire for student-driven instruction over standardized testing any longer; they will end up resigning from teaching. And, they still will have a mountain of student debt left to pay back.

It is this sad story that accelerated my leaving the classroom and tutoring privately. During my classroom observations and student teaching, I felt that edtech was encouraged, but instruction was still teacher-driven because that’s how teaching works. It’s how you prove you’re actually “teaching”. I felt I was doing a ton of work and the students were just sitting there, spacing out and doodling. A few students participated, but most were just conditioned to just sit back and let “school” happen. They put in their 6 hours hours of doing whatever the teacher wanted so their parents would get off their backs about not getting a 4.0 and that’s it. There was very little smiling, laughter, or student-driven learning. In fact, few were actually there because they wanted to.

I hope enough new teachers stick it out until student-driven instruction with technology is the norm. I also hope that veteran teachers either embrace student-driven instruction with technology or move out of the way in favor of change. Edtech is here to stay and it needs to be integrated.

Press Release: Online Michigan Student Test System Developed for Spring 2015

unnamedNews Release

Contact:    Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs, (517) 241-4395

Bill DiSessa, Spokesperson, (517) 335-6649

Michigan Student Test System Developed for Spring 2015

November 13, 2014

LANSING – Michigan’s public schools can begin moving forward in their planning for the online statewide student assessment in the Spring of 2015. The Michigan Department of Education announced today its updated assessment system, called the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP).

“This is great news for our local school districts,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “They’ve been very anxious to hear what the new assessment will be, as we developed a new test to comply with legislatively-mandated changes.”

The new assessment was required by the state legislature for the Spring 2015 testing period. The legislature also required the Department of Education to re-bid its long-term assessment system that will begin in the Spring of 2016.

The new assessment meets all of the requirements put into law by the legislature; that it be: an online assessment, with a paper-and-pencil option; aligned to the state standards; expanding writing assessments to additional grades; providing an increased number of constructed response test questions so that pupils can demonstrate higher-order skills, such as problem solving and communicating reasoning; and pilot tested before statewide implementation.

M-STEP replaces the 44-year-old MEAP test, which was not online and measured the previous state standards. The Spring 2015 assessment will include Michigan-created content, as well as content developed by the multi-state Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Educators from Michigan public schools helped develop and write test content that will appear on M-STEP.

“The changes in law diverted what the department and local school districts had been developing and preparing for over the past three years,” Flanagan said. “It put schools in some unwelcomed limbo while our experts scrambled to find testing content that met the legislative requirements.”

The assessment for Spring 2015 is a one-year stopgap until the long-term assessment is awarded through the re-bidding process.

M-STEP includes the following assessments:

  • A Spring summative assessment for grades 3-8
  • A Michigan Merit Exam (MME) for grade 11, which includes a college entrance exam; a work skills component; and a summative component aligned to Michigan content standards

This will be the first time all statewide assessments will be administered online. To help prepare, nearly 1,900 Michigan schools have performed pilot online testing over the past three and a half years. The state Legislature has invested more than $100 million over the past two years to help get local districts technology-ready for the new assessments. To date, over 80 percent of schools meet the minimum technology requirement for the new assessment.

There still will be a paper-and-pencil option for schools if they believe they are not ready with the minimal technology requirements. Districts have until November 21 to request a waiver to administer the paper/pencil test. Due to the cost concerns of preparing the separate online and paper/pencil formats, and wanting to be the best stewards of public funds, MDE will not entertain change requests beyond that November 21 deadline date.

The entire Michigan Merit Exam for the Spring of 2015 will take longer for local schools to administer due to requirements in state law.

The high school test requires additional time because the college entrance and work skills tests that Michigan currently is contracted to use, do not measure the state’s standards for English language arts and mathematics. The move to more rigorous standards requires additional types of test questions not present on those assessments. As a result, the state is required to provide additional testing to ensure state and federal laws that require measurement of the state’s standards are met.

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has allowed a few states to get a federal flexibility waiver with afuture plan to use only a college-entrance exam like ACT. However, USED cannot waive the Michigan law that requires the state assessments be aligned to the state standards.

The majority of schools that are testing online will have greater flexibility and can configure testing, as desired, within the eight-week window the department has provided them. This provides ample opportunity for schools to plan their testing times. There will be eight partial days of testing for the paper/pencil option of the high school test in the spring. This option, which should be used only by those continuing to prepare their buildings for online testing, must continue to be spread in this fashion to assure adequate testing security.

School Accountability

MDE will be working with the USED to update Michigan’s school accountability model used in its flexibility waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. These updates would recognize the changes in statewide assessments and improvements in identifying student academic growth and learning.

In these discussions with USED, it will be the Michigan Department of Education’s intent to use the test data from this transitional year for a trial run of a revised accountability system. It is the intent of the Department that the results of the trial run of accountability would be shared with schools and districts for local decision making, but that no consequences would be applied.

The Department encourages local districts to use the data to inform classroom instruction; student and school improvement planning; and local programming decisions.

Educator and Administrator Evaluations

Schools will be provided student-level growth data for use in teacher and administrator evaluations. Because these educator evaluations are still determined by local school districts, how local districts choose to use the data in the evaluations is up to each district.

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 For more information on M-STEP, log on to: http://www.michigan.gov/mstep

NPR: Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software

Transcript available at NPR.org.

I highly recommend you listen to the whole bit or read the transcript.  It brings up the issue that while Turnitin is a tool, some teachers use it more like a “scalpel” (with “care and discretion”) while others use it more like a “hammer” (as in a gavel).

Some students and teachers noticed that when drafts were required to be submitted to Turnitin, but not final drafts, there was less plagiarism as students were able to learn from their mistakes and avoid accidental plagiarism.  No one really wins when teachers are the zero-tolerance thought police with a one-way ticket to an academic integrity review board meeting in which the teachers were lobbying for expulsion.

It really is better to not turn in a paper than turn in someone else’s work. As Emma Zaballos, a student at American University, said in the interview, “A zero will ruin your GPA but it won’t get you thrown out of school.”

Source: LA Johnson/NPR

Source: LA Johnson/NPR


Source: LA Johnson/NPR

Using Internet Memes in the Classroom

Teachers constantly see memes on students’ computers in the lab.  Instead of being infuriated that students are using the technological powers for evil (i.e. distraction), harness that interest and use memes in the classroom to pull students into the lesson.

What purpose can memes serve in the classroom?

  1. Relevant content lesson (i.e. inject some fun into your discussion)
  2. Fill in the Blank (i.e. critical thinking skills using an either/or statement on a meme)
  3. Rules and Advice (students are more apt to follow rules present in meme form than a rules poster)
  4. Create Their Own (make it a project!  students will have to think carefully about subject matter)

(List courtesy of Nick Grantham)

Before you decide which meme to use, you need to make sure it is relevant.  You need to know you meme.  This database will help look up memes, explain its origin, and provide examples.

Memes are everywhere, but here are some interesting places you may want to check out:

  • Heck Yeah, Educational Memes! – A large Tumblr collection of educational memes
  • Grammar Catz – A collection of cat memes with meme grammar, grammar rules that apply to that particular meme, and then a button to show the grammatically correct meme
  • Meme Assignment using the Hunger Games – “One does not simply run away to District 13”  “If you could stop the districts from uprising, that’d be grrreat”
  • School of Fail – a FailBlog devoted to school fails, education jokes, and related memes
  • Comma Memes – a previous blog post on Teaching & Technology
  • MemeCenter/Education – a forewarning: not all are age-appropriate, but many are.  Also, there are several funny, age-appropriate memes for sex education teachers.

Want to create memes but don’t know how?  Here are four online tools:

There are also dozens of apps on the iPad that can quickly create memes that you can save to the camera roll or email to yourself.  I’ve made several “Stay Calm” posters and “Motivational” posters.

Redesigning the Course Syllabus as an Infographic

This past May, Curtis Newbold, a college professor, taught a four-week course titled, “Infographics in the popular media”.  As he was writing the course, it occurred to him that he perhaps the course syllabus would be better written as an infographic.  Why?  As Newbold put it,  “[I didn’t want] to be accused of doing what has been labeled a “performative contradiction” (talking about one thing, but doing something else), [so] I opted to go this route.”

Personally, I have many questions that I surmise were similar to Newbold’s questions.

  1. Could a syllabus work better in an infographic format?
  2. Would students have a clearer understanding of the content within the syllabus if it was in this format?
  3. Would students be more likely to reference the infographic syllabus prior to asking the professor an email?

There was only one way to definitively answer these questions.  Newbold’s own action research.  This following three images is the infographic syllabus he used.  (Click on the image to enlarge).

InfographicsPopularMedia_CourseSyllabus_May2014_Redacted-1 InfographicsPopularMedia_CourseSyllabus_May2014_Redacted-2 InfographicsPopularMedia_CourseSyllabus_May2014_Redacted-3


Newbold’s conclusions for the action research:

I’m not sure how effective infographics would be for all course syllabi. But I do know that there wasn’t a single question during this May term course from students about what was due, when it was due, and what my expectations were. That is rarely the case when I use my much-more-thorough syllabi in other courses. Is more being lost in our syllabi when we give too much information? Should we be reducing content for clarity by using infographic-style communications in the classroom? My initial reaction would be probably.

Not a single question?  That is definitely interesting.  However, some comments on his original blog post about using a infographic formatted syllabus raised the point that many of those pesky policy and procedures that must be on the syllabus are determined by the institution and therefore must remain.  I suppose a sort of hybrid could be constructed, to satisfy all parties.  However, I do know that not having a single question is something very valuable to many teachers.

Wikipedia Entries: The New Term Paper

I spent HOURS on term papers.  They were well researched, well written, and well-thought out.  The electronic copies now sit in a folder on my backup hard drive.  And the physical copies?  Who knows…probably shredded years ago since the professors rarely returned the papers.

Sure that paper helped me pass that class and in turn helped me obtain a degree and yadda yadda; it was beneficial for me.  But what did I contribute to the greater good?  What did I contribute to academia or to the general record?  Nothing.

This lack of purpose is exactly why people plagiarize other papers and buy papers from websites that promise “100% original content”.  Students feel they have better things to do, more important things to do, things that matter to them or their careers.  Teachers have come up with a solution to make schoolwork less tedious and more meaningful to the students :instead of writing the traditional term paper, write detailed Wikipedia entries.

Instead of the traditional MLA or APA style formatting, students have to format their writing to adhere to Wikipedia’s Manual of Style (take a look…it’s pretty long…and thorough).  And citations?  Ani Schug and her classmates at Pomona College wrote a Wikipedia article as a term paper using “218 scholarly legal and newspaper sources”.  The article was on the “1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporate donations for ballot initiative campaigns.”

Wikipedia has had a reputation of being full of errors, so in order to combat this image, Wikipedia (really Wikimedia) has made a push in college classrooms to have students publish content on Wikipedia.  The result has been an increase in editing articles, in the publication of new well-written articles, and most importantly, well-researched articles.

This push will trickle down into the K-12 classrooms.  Why create a random blog and publish content to just sit on the internet when you could contribute to the overall wealth of human knowledge?  Why ignore content that is 90% correct just because it could be wrong?  Don’t teach students to ignore something because it could be misleading, instead, teach them to do something about it!

—-Below is the article from the LA Times about the students at Pomona College and their use of Wikipedia in the classroom.—-

All through high school, Ani Schug was told to steer clear of Wikipedia. Her teachers talked about the popular online encyclopedia “as if it wasn’t serious or trustworthy” and suggested it only be used as a tip sheet.

Imagine her surprise this spring when her American politics professor at Pomona College assigned the class to write detailed entries for Wikipedia instead of traditional term papers.

Turns out it was a lot harder than the students anticipated. Their projects had to be researched, composed and coded to match Wikipedia’s strict protocols. Schug and her classmates wound up citing 218 scholarly legal and newspaper sources for their entry on a 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing corporate donations for ballot initiative campaigns.

Then came the really scary step: All their work was posted publicly on Wikipedia for reading and editing by a potentially immense audience.

It makes us feel more obligated to do a good job and present the facts in an unbiased way.- Ani Schug, Pomona College student

“It felt more real that other people will be reading us besides just our group and the teacher,” said Schug, 19, who just completed her freshman year at Pomona. “It makes us feel more obligated to do a good job and present the facts in an unbiased way.”

Once the bane of teachers, Wikipedia and entry-writing exercises are becoming more common on college campuses as academia and the online site drop mutual suspicions and seek to cooperate. In at least 150 courses at colleges in the U.S. and Canada, including UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco’s medical school, Boston College and Carnegie Mellon University, students were assigned to create or expand Wikipedia entries this year.

The result, supporters say, has been better researched articles about, for example, the causes of paralyzing strokes and the history of the American West. And, they say, students are becoming better prepared for a future of digital information.

“Even the best research papers get buried in a drawer somewhere,” said Amanda Hollis-Brusky, the Pomona politics professor who assigned the Wikipedia projects. “These make a real contribution to the public discourse.”

When the not-for-profit Wikipedia was started in 2001, the idea was that antiestablishment volunteers — in fact, anyone who could access the Internet — would write and edit its mainly anonymous entries. An unbiased truth was supposed to emerge if enough contributors took part. By contrast, traditional encyclopedias hired expert authors.

But even as its popularity soared among the public, Wikipedia earned a reputation among academics as amateurish, peppered with errors and too open to nasty online spats over content. Wikipedia has tried to repair all that with better safeguards and a wider range of topics.

As part of that effort, Wikipedia has established a San Francisco educational arm that helps colleges tailor class assignments to the site’s technical demands. It trains “Wikipedia Ambassadors” like Char Booth, the Claremont Colleges librarian who aided the Pomona class.

Wikipedia “gets well-written articles from [college] students who are studying the topics and have access to the best literature on the subject and the expertise of professors who can guide them as well,” said LiAnna Davis, a spokeswoman for the Wiki Education Foundation.

Pomona professor Hollis-Brusky and Booth taught students to meet the requirements of tight writing, neutral tone and abundant citations for their projects on such topics as theFederalist Papers , diamond importing laws and the electoral reform group FairVote. The student groups presented their research to the class and displayed their Wikipedia pages on a large screen in a Hahn Hall classroom. The Supreme Court case entry showed that it had attracted about 2,000 viewers in a month.

Even with complaints of mistakes and incompleteness, Wikipedia has a powerful reach. Often the first site suggested by Google searches, it has about 4.5 million English-language entries and 496 million visitors a month worldwide.

Wikipedia “has essentially become too large to ignore,” said Berkeley’s Kevin Gorman, a former student who is the nation’s first “Wikipedian in Residence” at an undergraduate institution.

“It is certainly an initial source of information for a huge number of people,” he said. “For many people, it may be their primary source of information.”

Gorman guides students who are composing Wiki entries as assignments in UC Berkeley’s American Cultures program — requiring classes that deal with ethnic and economic diversity.

Gorman said it is important to expand the ranks of Wikipedia authors and editors beyond its early base of “basically techno, libertarian, white dudes.”

Further symbolizing peace with academia, professional scholarly organizations in sociology, psychological science and communications in recent years have urged members to write Wikipedia articles and to assign students to do so. Other efforts include Wikipedia-writing marathons, such as one sponsored by CalArts’ online magazine, East of Borneo, that focused on topics about the Southern California art world.

Gorman also works with UC San Francisco’s medical school, where professor Amin Azzam runs a month-long elective class for students to improve Wikipedia’s medical information. In the first such class at an American medical school, students have started or revised pages about hepatitis, dementia and alcohol withdrawal syndrome, among others, Azzam said.

The assignments, he explained, are part of young doctors’ “social contract to do good in the world and help patients” learn about health.

In revising and broadening the entry on strokes, medical student Andrew Callen experienced Wikipedia’s argumentative nature. A Wikipedia medical editor, apparently a physician, challenged some of Callen’s technical terminology.

Callen said his language was more precise but conceded after some back and forth that the distinction was not important for lay readers.

“I didn’t take offense at it,” he said. “In a way I appreciated it.”

Writing for Wikipedia, Callen said, is a good way to improve the explanation of complicated science to patients.”The more people we can get to edit it, the more accurate the information will be,” he added.

Some skepticism remains.

Doug Hesse, vice president of the National Council of Teachers of English, said Wikipedia’s understandable insistence on neutrality doesn’t allow students to make reasoned arguments and analysis in term papers.

And its reliance on published sources eliminates students’ independent interviews, experiments and research, said Hesse, who heads the University of Denver’s writing program.

At Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, professor of human-computer interaction Robert Kraut has assigned classes to compose Wikipedia chapters in psychology. Students have benefited, he said, but he, too, doesn’t think such assignments will become commonplace.

Compared to regular term papers, Wiki entries require a lot more faculty time to ensure they are ready for online viewing. Some colleges may be put off by the public editing, which Kraut said led to some of his students’ writings getting excised for not following what he considered to be very complicated footnoting rules.

In Pomona College’s politics class, there was no nasty flaming on any class projects, which counted for 35% of the students’ grades, according to Hollis-Brusky. (Most Wikipedia authors use pseudonyms and the Pomona students were urged to do the same to avoid possible privacy violations.)

Freshman Lane Miles, who worked on the FairVote research, said it was doubly satisfying to help build the online encyclopedia. “We are educating ourselves and educating others,” he said.

Twitter: @larrygordonlat


Father Arrested After Speaking Out at School Board Meeting: Rights Violated?

Headline: Watch What Happens When One Parent Speaks Out at a School Board Meeting About a Controversial Book Assigned to His Daughter

Reaction: Are you angry?  How dare they arrest someone for exercising his right to free speech!  I mean, if a parent isn’t going to stand up for his child’s education, then who will?  Come on, the book describes a sexual encounter so graphic it’s going to make 14-years blush!  And what’s worse, the parents were not asked to sign a consent form!  Who does that?  Bad districts!  Bad teachers!  That’s who!  And you know who else is to blame?  That crazy cop who just is a monkey of the common-core Kool-aid drinking school board!

Did you see what just happened there?  A tirade of unsubstantiated blame, accusations, and name-calling that argues nothing.  You took a headline, the length of a tweet, made assumptions based upon it and were ready to give the public a piece of your mind in the comments section.  But you haven’t even read the article or seen the video.

Actual Story: A father went to a school board meeting to express his anger that a he did not provide informed-consent for his teenage daughter to read a required reading book that contained explicit sexual material.  He spoke for his two minutes during open comment and when his two minutes were up, he sat down.  Later, while seated and during another person’s two-minute time, this father interrupted the speaker.  He then attempted to engage the board verbally, but was asked to quiet down.  He did not.  A police officer asked him to leave.  He refused.  The father continued to be disorderly.  He was escorted out of the meeting and arrested for disorderly conduct.

From Merriem-Webster.com:Disorderly Conduct: Conduct likely to lead to a disturbance of the public peace or that offends public decency. It has been held to include the use of obscene language in public, fighting in a public place, blocking public ways, and making threats. Statutes against disorderly conduct must identify the specific acts that constitute it. The offense usually carries minor penalties.”

Was the father disturbing the public peace?  Was he offending anyone?  Was he fighting in public?  Yes.  He was verbally fighting in which some people were offended and the meeting was halted (the speaker was unable to continue until the father was escorted out).  This is considered disorderly conduct.

Soapbox: Part of an education is learning when to exercise restraint and to use official channels to argue a point and not belligerently talk over someone simply because you are angry.  In the age of 5 second sound bites and 140 character headlines, people are fueled with anger before learning all the facts.  True, the school was in the wrong regarding the forgotten notices and, possibly, in even teaching 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult; however, the school board was doing their due diligence in holding a meeting to obtain the true opinions of the parents and not listening solely to hearsay. Imagine if they had just banned the teaching of the book outright without giving parents and teachers a forum to speak?  So before you get angry that the father was being arrested for speaking out at the school board meeting, watch the video of him in the meeting and decide if you agree that is “disorderly conduct”.



Digital Literacy: Could e-books be a detriment to reading fluency?

Digital books have been around for a while now.  I’ve read a handful of books on my low-cost model Kindle and a couple on the Kindle app on my iPad.  I like having the flexibility to use digital books.  However, there just is something about a physical book that is special.  I definitely would know; I have lots of them.

While digital books are great green space-savers, could they actually be hindering reading proficiency?  At first, that concept seems silly: the built-in dictionaries can give instant access to unknown words, the read-aloud functions can help pronounce words or even pages, and the font size can adjust for eye problems.  But let’s look closer at those.

If you aren’t careful, those “helpful extras” can quickly and easily turn into “distracting extras”.  Videos that pop up in text books that enhance learning?  Sounds great: but now the student has to stop reading, focus on the new content, and then return to the reading content trying to remember what was being said before the video.

Annie Murphy Paul reported, for the New York Times, on a recently presented study by Heather Ruetschlin Schugar and Jordan T. Schugar from West Chester University.  The researchers found that among middle and high school students, “reading comprehension…was higher when they read conventional books” versus digital books on iPads.

Paul, summarizing information presented by the Shugars, states succinctly:

Parents and teachers to look for e-books that enhance and extend interactions with the text, rather than those that offer only distractions; that promote interactions that are relatively brief rather than time-consuming; that provide supports for making text-based inferences or understanding difficult vocabulary; and that locate interactions on the same page as the text display, rather than on a separate screen.

In addition, Paul states:

Adults should ensure that children are not overusing e-book features like the electronic dictionary or the “read-to-me” option. Young readers can often benefit from looking up the definition of a word with a click, but doing it too often will disrupt reading fluidity and comprehension. Even without connecting to the dictionary, children are able to glean the meaning of many words from context. Likewise, the read-to-me feature can be useful in decoding a difficult word, but when used too often it discourages children from sounding out words on their own.

So are digital books going to kill literacy rates?  Probably not.  However, if you don’t apply the same methods to learning how to read when using digital books as was done with physical books, we may have fewer and fewer people willing to read 500+ page books.