Table of Contents

One - Navigating a web-based eMonograph: Designing more effective Internet reading, Robert S. Houghton


Two – Literacies and Composition: The Challenge and Opportunity of the 21st Century Digital Palette Robert S. Houghton


Three – Deeper Text Learning: Using Traditional Reading Strategies in the Digital Age Robert S. Houghton & David Strahan


Four – The Breakaway Literacies Difference: Enabling our students' deeper digital learning Robert S. Houghton with David Strahan


Five - Epilogue Robert S. Houghton & David Strahan



Editor’s note: Why an eMonograph and how to conduct digital peer review?

mailbox scene-woman stuffing letter in mailbox with broken computer at her feet


collage-young teens using cell phones and laptops

Learning Literacy in the Digital Age:
Challenges and Opportunities
in the Middle Grades

Those of us who spend time in middle grades settings understand that literacy is changing.

Young adolescents are well-versed with cell phones, video games, social networks, web surfs, and many more forms of communication. Some move naturally between their out-of-school worlds of communication and their in-school studies. Some struggle to participate in either. As teachers, our question is no longer “whether” to incorporate digital literacies but how to do so. More basically, we wonder how to nurture deep thinking and creativity in this 21st century context.

These are the issues that have prompted this eMonograph. In a series of chapters, we invite you to consider some practical questions that classroom teachers are increasingly beginning to explore:

How is literacy changing and what do those changes mean for reading, writing, and reasoning?

What strategies can we teach to encourage deeper learning in multiple forms of literacy?

How can we tap and grow our students’ talents with digital literacies to encourage deeper learning?

In this venture, we use some forms of Web-based literacy to explore these issues. In a first for this journal, the editors have created an “eMonograph”, an online effort to increasingly unpack some of the capacity and potential of Web-based communications. Each chapter is its own journey, sufficient exercise for one sitting. Readers may find that taking breaks between articles is more rewarding. We encourage our readers to connect “media” and “messages,” to develop their skills with Internet tools to learn more about digital possibilities.

We have organized our journey into five chapters and the bibliography. Chapter one discusses how to navigate the unique structure of these emonographs and the new potential they invite you to experience and explore. Things on the Web are not as disjointed as the characters experience in Alice in Wonderland, nor hopefully in this series of articles. However, the open innovative format of the Web means that they might not only be much different than in paper format, but to take advantage of the strengths of the digital age, they must be. To help readers get off to a good start, it is important to read chapter one.

After reading chapter one, there is a logic to the sequence of articles but, readers may choose to follow it or to jump in wherever they wish. After all, reader choice is one of the key features of digital literacy.


We would also like to hear from you. Looking for something else? Wishing we'd done it differently? Ideas for the next round of articles? Curious about something? Email: houghton {at} or strahan {at}

portion of image collage is from so link provided here to the site; other 3 images in collage are of young adolescents using cell phones, smart phones and laptops 3 images of young adolescents using cell phones and laptops