Literacy and New Technology

Amy Bridges
Kristin Demchuk
Dan Hay
Rachel Hembruff
Kyla Hogan
Chris Mableson
Elizabeth Pereira
Kaitlin Taylor

1. Key Features

In chapter 3 of Larson and Marsh’s Making Literacy Real, literacy is seen as something that has taken on a slightly new meaning, a more multifaceted definition with the addition of various technologies. Marsh and Larson suggest that two particular factors changed the way we view literacy in the classroom. The first factor is the shift by teachers to use less writing as instruction and more image and technology injected teaching. This approach removes students from traditional lecture approached learning and makes the learning more student centered. The second factor is the move from traditional textbook learning to learning on interactive screens and whiteboards. This approach also allows students to be more active in their learning as they may have the opportunity to interact with the screen or other technologies in the class. These factors have developed a new literacy in today’s students a “digital literacy”. The medium of expression is expanded with technology, which makes it more accessible for everyone. With this increased usage in image in the classroom, students are developing many transferable skills like “problem solving, negotiation, thinking, reasoning and risk taking” (Larson and Marsh) all of which can benefit students in the classroom and everyday life. The addition of technology also makes literacy a social practice as the sharing of information becomes much easier and more accessible. With the assistance of technology, literacy is able to connect students at school and at home experiences more effectively.

2. Literacy Skills, Knowledge and Understanding

computer_cartoon_robot_in_classroom_flyer-p2446480292216552942mcvz_400.jpgIn Chapter 4, "Literacy and New Technology", Larson and Marsh discuss the results of a few studies on technology and literacy skills. Studies show that moving image media (for example, movies, video and computer games) can lead to gains in literacy skills including thinking, reasoning, problem solving, negotiation, and risk taking. Children who were surveyed felt that playing video games helped to develop their general knowledge and helped with school subjects. Teachers felt that playing video games helped children to develop language and literacy skills such as listening, using talk to organize, sequence, and clarify thinking. Studies also showed how computer games can help to develop children’s understanding of narrative structure.

The authors outline the four roles of digital learners which are: text designer, text bricoleur, text mediator or broker, and text jammer. A text designer, as opposed to a traditional author, designs multimodal, digital texts, by creating a SmartBoard presentation for example. A text bricoleur creates text within online communities, such as a chatroom or message board. A text mediator or broker mediates texts between author and reader by managing discussion boards or rating online articles or blogs for example. A text jammer uses online critical literacy to change online texts to subvert the messages given. In all four of these roles, the learners demonstrate strong literacy skills and knowledge and teachers must acknowledge these technology skills as literacy. Teachers can incorporate these literacies into their teaching by finding out which role their students fit into and enjoy and creating activities which reflect these roles.

2.1 Links to Curriculum

The strands and overall expectations are the same for all the compulsory senior English courses. All of the expectations are open-ended enough and there are so many technologies available that teachers can do a huge number of different things to link technology to the curriculum. Following are some examples of how curriculum expectations from each strand can be met using technology:

In Oral Communication students must show that they can listen to understand, speak to communicate, and reflect on skills and strategies. This can be done by having a webcam chat, listening to a podcast, having a cell phone conversation, creating a TV commercial, creating a podcast, or creating a reflective video diary.

In Reading and Literature Studies students must show that they can read for meaning, understand form and style, read with fluency, and reflect of skills and strategies. This can be done by using an E Reader, reading online texts, or following the instructions in a video or computer game.

In Writing students must show that they can develop and organize content, use knowledge of form and style, apply knowledge of conventions, and reflect on skills and strategies. This can be done by using a graphic organizer such as Smart Ideas, writing a blog entry, and using a spell check program.

In Media Studies students must show that they can understand media texts, understand media forms, conventions, and techniques, create media texts, and reflect on skills and knowledge. This can be done by looking at and creating different online texts such as blogs, articles, message boards, or websites, or looking at and creating different moving image texts such as TV commercials or news reports.

3. Implications of Technology

2007-346-new-technology-protesting.jpgIt would be impossible to argue, while typing on a laptop, that technology is not an invaluable part of education. Many researches have tracked the history of the internet, operating systems and the portability of the two. Classrooms become enriched when students have access to internet resources and word processing programs. Even more so exceptional learners can be highly aided in, otherwise impossible, tasks. Blocks posed by physical disabilities are all but removed with online learning communities. Education is no longer the only-child of the university program, but rather much of the same theory is accessible at the press of a Blackberry button. This is a fantasy world that has become our reality, with a dictionary app to expand our vocabulary and spell check to make us sound intelligent but as with all fantasy there is a dystopian aspect that threatens our students and that is the juxtaposition of rich and poor and the power technology has to create inequalities within our system.
When assessing our students, are we giving a subconscious preference to those who are able to access technology? Are we unfairly grading a student that has access to spell check higher than those who use simple programs such as ‘word pad’? Is the difference between a B+ and a C- based on student’s socio-economic standing? Also outside of the classroom, the argument for private schools being that they are better equipped with technology and research which will naturally lead to student success. What happens when this polarization happens in the public boards? The have and have not schools already exist and much of the definition is based on the access that students have to technology. In some schools all students have access to a laptop, in others 20 students share a dictionary. This principal even applies to teachers and the methods in which they teach.

With student engagement being the top priority for teachers, what happens when teachers do not have access to smart boards, iPhones, or PowerPoint slides? Are we lost and should we simply give up? No. But our teaching methods must not depend on technology for assessing literacy outcomes and our student assessment must take into consideration the polarization of technology. The damage that we can create is not simply social but emotional as well. With the simple survey of ‘who has an iPhone? We can possibly set up groups to use the technology. However, we are openly valuing a possession and devaluing those without. Many students do not have internet access at home, therefore an e-mail assignment, as suggested in ‘Making Literacy Real’ may pose a serious issue. It is therefore vital that if we are to use technology in the classroom and especially for assessment that we give students every opportunity for equal access and are conscious of the polarizing effect that technology has, especially on impressionable students.

4. Assessment

Student literacy needs to be developed in the classroom so that students are equipped with the skills to critically navigate and utilize the technologies they require in the world beyond school.
The use of technology needs to be taught in the classroom so that students are maximizing the benefits of technology and increasing their fluency where there is a lack of fluency at home. As with any skill or knowledge passed to students the information needs to be scaffolded so that students from a variety of backgrounds and fluencies will be able to master new skills and practice old ones. This will ensure that students will have comparable skills in the use of technology and help to equalize the potential for students without access to technology at home.

It is imperative that, since students may not have comparable access (and consequently fluency) with technologies in their personal lives, students be given access to technological resources in the classroom. Adequate class time must be given to students to complete their tasks in the classroom in order to ensure that all students be given the same access to their education.

Through the use of technology many things can be assessed:
o Reading comprehension
o Oral and/or written communication
o Media literacy
o Production of media texts
All of which are currently represented in the English curriculum documents; however they also have value beyond the curriculum in that they represent skills students need to be empowered to use properly. They can be assessed and therefore, formatively construct student metacognition in these area.

Technology also allows students to have authentic audiences for the work they produce for a assessment, which provides greater motivation to students. Using assessments that model learning in a public forum, for example the internet, validates the work that students are doing. The work is not just work to keep them working, it is work that is valuable to the outside community. This empowers students and their engagement in learning.

This tool would assess student literacy in media studies, oral and/or written communication, reading, and the communication of ideas through various forms of media.

“I’m not buying it rant.”

o Students should choose a website, website article, or ad and review it critically.
o Student will review:
o Who is writing the website?
o For whom?
o How does the author want the audience to respond?
o What strategies do they use to achieve this aim?

o Students will then create a ‘rant’ - Can be submitted as an online critique or as a youtube video – that analyses the website’s content and persuasive techniques.

o Students need to look at the website and analyze the text. This allows them to gain fluency in navigating online content, while taking advantage of the opportunities provided by new technologies by creating a product for this medium.

5. Activities

5.1 Creative Writing with Google Maps

Part One: Creative Writing
1. Get together in a group of 3-4 people.
2. You will be writing a jigsaw travel story.
3. One person will write 2-3 sentences of their story and pass it
on to the next person.
4. The story must change destinations with each writer (this can
be anywhere in the world - be specific).

Part Two: Google Mapping
1. Together you will create a Google Map version of your story.
2. Integrate your writing into Google Maps using Placemarkers
(see tutorial video below).
3. Add any additional photos, videos, links to enhance the
reader's experience of your story.
4. Make sure to save your map and make it public on the web.

5.2 Cinquain Poetry and Word Art

Part 1 Create a cinquain:
1. Learn about a cinquain. (
2. After you are comfortable with the Cinquain structure, choose a theme for a Cinquain. You may use any theme you wish.
3. Compose a Cinquain poem.
A reminder:
An ideal Cinquain has a specific pattern:
First Line: one word (two syllables), giving a title
Second Line: two adjectives (four syllables), describing the title
Third Line: three verbs (six syllables), expressing an action
Fourth Line: four words (eight syllables), expressing a feeling
Fifth Line: one word (two syllables), a synonym for the title
Part 2 Use Word Art
1. After you have typed your poem, use WordArt to make the first and last lines stand out. Look at the tool bar at the bottom. The word Draw should be the first word on the line with AutoShapes and then many tool icons..
2. external image clip_image002.png Highlight the first word of your poem. You can easily highlight a word by double clicking on that word.
3. After the word is highlighted, select the crooked A.
4. When you click on the crooked letter A, a dialog box will open. Select the one you wish your word to look like, and then click OK.
5. Your word will be in the box. Click OK at the bottom of that box.
6. The word will appear on the page in WordArt. The word has changed into a picture. Use the Enter key to move the other words down further on the page to get back your alignment.
7. Repeat the task for the last word of your poem.
8. After completing your Cinquain, type in this link to create online Cinquains!

5.3 Voice Thread

VoiceThread is an online collaboration tool in the form of a slide
show accompanied by commentary (voice and text). To start a
VoiceThread one person posts images and records their
commentary about those images, then other users can login to
their accounts and share their commentary on the same images.
It is a way for students to have a conversation online and

1. Start an online reading circle with your class using
2. Have each student responsible for posting an image related to
different parts of the text or different characters within the text.
3. Have the other students participate and respond to
eachothers' posts.

5.4 Edublogs

There are numerous ways of free blogging platforms on the web,
but this one is designed with the purpose of the classroom in mind. Edublogs provides teachers and students with a free blogging platform. 1.Create a blog where your students can practice and publish their creative writing.
2.They can add images, video and links. to enhance their creation.

6. Students and Technology

As Larson and Marsh mention in chapter three of Making Literacy Real, “there is a need to reconsider the traditional notions of literacy given the range and nature of children’s and young people’s communicative practices outside school” (Larson and Marsh 69). Children become competent using these devices at a young age. Students have computer classes as early as grade 1 and they do activities on the computer as part of their classes and home life even earlier. It is virtually impossible to get away from the influence of technology, as even most toy manufacturers are currently selling toys with additional on-line capabilities. Clearly, teachers should be able to use children’s interest in technology to create interest in the classroom but what do they need to know to do this? First, teachers need to know what technology the students have access to and what devices (cell phones, iPads, MP3 players, etc.) the students have to allow them to use the technology they are using. However, teachers should keep in mind that access to such devices varies widely. In rural areas there may still be very limited access to high-speed Internet, so students’ ability to access certain technology will be compromised. In economically depressed regions, access to expensive devices will also be limited. Schools that choose to invest in new technology may already have a class set of laptops, touch screen phones, eReaders, etc., so what the school has to offer also plays a part in what can be utilized. Apart from the hardware concerns, teachers must look at what software is being used by the students. Currently Facebook and YouTube are widely used but it is likely that within a few years there will be newer and different software that captures students’ interest. Teachers can determine what technology the students are interested by observing and by questioning. Teachers cannot assume that the students at their school are interested in what’s being advertised as the latest trend. Trends will provide teachers with a starting point but they will still need to ask students if they’re using particular programs and why. The ‘why’ is just as important as what students are using, so teachers can get an idea of how they can implement programs into their lesson plans. Once teachers have ascertained what technology the students are using and why, they can then plan lessons to incorporate some of these options, keeping in mind traditional and non-traditional activities can, and probably should, be offered in conjunction with each other.

7. Resources

1. Dewy was one of the first influential progressive education writers. Some aspects of his argument which can be related to technology are;
- that we need to change from our ‘old schooling practices’.
- that experience should be incorporated into teaching methods.

2. Teaching Shakespeare with YouTube by Christy Desmet

This article we read over as a class, it discusses the use of Shakespeare and use of media to understand literacy through different modes of representation.

3. Video Games to Reading: Reaching Out to Reluctant Readers by Kristie Jolley

This article goes over how to ‘Reach out to Reluctant Readers’, and how to engage students in not only the material, but to develop t their English reading and comprehension skills.

4. Kristie Jolley goes over utilizing video games, as part of students interest, as a branch into students minds.
Video Game based material
1) Graphic novels
2) Full novels
3) Video Game hint guides
They Key to success she sound was that the students could engage in the material because they have background knowledge on the subject.
How does this help? Jolley concludes the article with information on where to find similar books, which was successful.

5. Improving Children’s literacy while promoting Digital fluency through the use of Blog’s in the classroom: Surviving the Hurricane by Monica Glewa & Margret B. Bogan
This article discusses the use of Literacy fluency by using Blog’s.
The article first goes over ways students learn
1) Storytelling
2) Interest at home
3) Something they can relate too
Using Blog’s they were able to hit all of these items.
For the example in the article they use a blog for the classroom based on a hurricane event that they could all relate to.

8. References

John Dewey. (1938). Education & Experience. pp. 25-50; 73-91.

Jolley. K. (2008). Video Games to Reading: Reaching Out to Reluctant
Readers. English
Journal. 97. 81-86.
John Dewey. (1938). Education & Experience. pp. 25-50; 73-91. PED3136/Dewey-ExpEd.pdf

The relationship between video games and books. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.consolealliance. net/posts/the-relationship- between-video-games-and-books/

Daylight/twilight high school blogs. (2011). Retrieved from

Shakespeare sketch - a small rewrite. (2008, May 31). Retrieved from v=IwbB6B0cQs4

Glewa, M, & Bogan, M. (2007). Impoving children's literacy while
promoiting digital flugency through the use of blog's in the
classroom: surviving the hurricane. Journal of Literacy and
Technology,8(1), Retrieved from
http://www. volume8/no1/JLTv8tech.pdf

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1. Key Features | 3. Implications of Technology | 4. Assessment | 5. Activities | 7. Resources | 8. References