A couple of weeks ago Kathleen Morris and I were busy preparing for a presentation we’re giving to our staff next term. The message we are trying to get across is
The illiterate of the 21st century will be those who can only read and write across traditional platforms.
In our classroom we integrate technology into our daily Literacy program to cater for our students. Technology is not an “add-on” and we don’t feel pressured to include one-off ICT lessons. Our lessons are designed to include technology. Our planning sessions always involve us brainstorming how technology fits into the lesson focuses. We find websites, web 2.0 tools, apps, stories and activities that help our students achieve their individual learning goals, in both Literacy and Numeracy.
We are lucky to have access to some great technological devices and our students are reaping the rewards while being engaged with their learning. Here’s a snapshot of what you might see if you wandered into our classroom during the two hour Literacy Block.
- The iPod is the “Listen to Reading” component of our Daily 5 program. Students listen to stories (we like Story Home on iTunes) and write/draw a response.
- Students complete listening/following instructions activities, such as origami, which has proved very popular. We like How To videos on HowCast (through iTunes).
- Students test their comprehension skills by listening to a podcast or watching a video. They then complete a follow up activity, such as sequencing activities (eg. correctly sequencing the steps in a recipe). Again, HowCast has some great videos for students of all ages.
- During our Reading Groups, we have a computer group each day. This is the “Work on Writing” component of the Daily 5. Students write a blog comment on our blog, reply to a comment or write a comment on one of our blogging buddies’ blogs.
- The focus of the computer activity is that the students carefully read the post they are commenting on and respond. They need to include questions in their comments and editing their comment is crucial. We often read these comments as a class during share time.
- When we incorporate the interactive whiteboard into our Reading Groups, we use it as the “Word Work” component of the Daily 5. Check out this post I wrote recently for some word game ideas students enjoy.
- We have two iPads in our classroom and we’re experimenting with how to best use them. We’ve used them in Reading Groups several times, taking advantage of some great free apps for young students. We’ve used word games, stories etc and the students have also watched videos/shows with a particular literacy focus.
- Recently, we’ve been focussing on having the students ask questions during whole class sessions. For example, after we watch a BTN episode, rather than asking questions myself, the students come up with questions for the class about the episode. They’ve been encouraged to do this after watching a show or episode on the iPad too. It’s a great way to tune them in, develop their metacognitive skills and keep them engaged and focussed on the task.
- We are very fortunate to have recently received a bank of 20 netbooks in our classroom. Our students were so excited when they started using them in the last week of term! Kathleen and I are completing an “action research project” with the netbooks and we’re excited about the possibilities.
- Our new student bloggers have been using the netbooks to get started with their blogs.
- When school goes back we are going to train up a few students who will become ”techxperts”. They will help troubleshoot problems, assist students with difficulties with the netbooks etc.
- We’ve had the students use the netbooks for publishing stories, completing research and looking up definitions of words while reading.
- I set up a Livebinder which had the websites our students would need for the week. This is a good way to save sites and students can easily access them during the Literacy Block (and also for Numeracy).
- We’re also helping the students improve their typing skills. We had a session in the last week of term where the students used a few online typing activities, including Dance Mat Typing, Keyboard Climber and Type for Gold, and the room was absolutely silent! They were so engaged and keen to develop their typing skills and speed.
- We are looking forward to having our students work on projects and use a variety of web 2.0 tools on the netbooks next term. We have a great opportunity with these netbooks and we can’t wait to see what the students learn and create!
This is just a brief overview of how we incorporate technology in our Literacy program. And, it goes without saying, our students read “traditional” books every day and regularly write with paper and pencils. Our priority is providing our students with a Literacy program that includes texts across all platforms. We are making them transliterate learners, that is, helping them to become literate across multiple forms of media.
We teach ICT skills explicitly and incidentally every day, and it is so rewarding to see our students’ using technology to further develop their reading and writing skills. As we often say, we’d be doing our students a disservice if we didn’t integrate technology into our program!