Data Points: Interviews with teachers about scrolls and textmapping


I recently interviewed a teacher in Georgia about the ways in which she has been using my work in her classroom.  She is a middle-school teacher, but much of what she says holds true in the college developmental reading classroom as well, so I thought I’d go ahead and share it.  I hope that you find it interesting:


Dave, thanks for sharing this technique, which engages so many intelligences in the process of learning to handle text. As I read through some of the instructions, it appears that to develop a scroll, teachers would xerox parts or all of a book and then display the pages sequentially on a table, floor, wall, or board. What issues do you face with copyright. Do you get the author's permission prior to the exercise? I've never used the tool, and I wonder if anyone else out there has comments or other resources to add. Thanks! Leecy

Leecy Wise, Moderator, Reading and Writing CoP

Hi Leecy.  I have two answers for you.

FIRST, You can avoid any copyright issue simply by using two purchased copies of the book.  Slice both spines off so that the pages are free from their respective bindings; lay out the pages in their proper order.  Since you used two purchased copies, you have a front and back page for each leaf in the book -- which is to say that you have all of the pages.  No photocopies needed.  No copyright issue.  I prefer this approach because it is less costly and a lot less time time-consuming than photocopying, and because the paper used in bound books tends to be of a much better quality than the paper used to make photocopies.

SECOND: That said, it seems to me that photocopying a book to make a scroll for classroom use would fit under Fair Use, provided certain conditions are met.  You'll find my analysis here:

Thanks for asking.

- Dave Middlebrook




Perfect solution, Dave.  What other ideas can others share on this or any other helpful reading or writing techniques? Lets start listing those! Leecy

Leecy Wise, Moderator, Reading and Writing, and Diversity and Literacy CoPs


Let's take a step back for a moment and think about this: What are the various instructional benefits of different ancient book forms?  What might they offer that our books don't?  Why would you use, say, a Chinese whirlwind book or a Roman concertina in your classroom?

My answer is that these book forms provide something that our modern books cannot: the perspective that comes with a different point of view; the opportunity to think out-of-the-box about how and why we read the way we do, and the benefit of being able to bring this new learning to bear on the rather challenging process of reading our modern bound and digital books.

So here's my take on one particular ancient book form and it's benefits in the classroom:

As you'll see, scrolls can be used at all levels, from preschool through college and adult ed.  They are used both in a small but growing number of schools -- including colleges and universities -- in the US and abroad.  Here's a recent collection of classroom photos posted on twitter:

As always, I welcome questions and comments.

- Dave Middlebrook 


Dave, thanks for taking the time to explain things a little more, adding new resources. We must think out of the box in order to hope to address the stats that I just posted earlier today on how the US is falling behind!

Has anyone out there used this approach? Comments? Let's talk more. Leecy

Leecy Wise, Moderator, Reading and Writing, and Diversity and Literacy CoPs


I've been following this conversation with interest so I thought I would share my personal experience. I didn't know it at the time, but I used the idea of a scroll to help me with a lengthy paper I was writing. I needed to make revisions but scrolling through the paper on the computer wasn't helping. Finally, I printed out the whole paper and laid it out on the floor. With scissors and tape in hand, I physically cut, moved and taped sections of the paper. I don't think I would have been able to make the revisions without doing this. So I can cerainly see how using scrolls for reading and for writing can be beneficial to our students. When I get back in the classroom, I'll be looking for opportunites to use them.

Hi Di.  You are far from alone.  That's more or less how I started using scrolls.  Many educators have shared similar stories.  It's a really simple idea, the nut of which is this:

Scrolls provide real benefits that our modern books cannot.  For many classroom situations, scrolls are demonstrably better than our modern books -- regardless of whether they are bound or digital.

I do not mean to suggest that we should use scrolls exclusively, instead of books; rather, we should add scrolls to the box of instructional tools because they significantly improve student learning.

Students are arriving at colleges unprepared for college reading and writing.  It makes little sense to repeat the same methods that failed these students all the way through their school years, from kindergarten through high school.  We read bound books, but that doesn't mean we must teach with bound books.  Unbind them and unroll them.  Scroll are cheap and effective.  And there are no scripts to follow, no drill-and-kill workbooks, no boring, canned "comprehension" questions.  With scrolls, you get to engage your students in real thinking, real comprehension, and real conversations. 

I hope that the developmental instructors on this list will give scrolls and textmapping a try.  This isn't hard to do.  And it works.

- Dave Middlebrook