Developing Literacy with Word Processors - Ideas and Resources

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Word processors are used widespread through schools and classrooms by both teachers and students. Students in particularly use it a lot for their work which teachers give to them. It is by far the most commonly used generic software in schools. Its many features provides excellent opportunities for teachers to help develop student literacy. 

You can take advantage of using word processors in the classroom such as MS Word when teaching literacy with it by taking the measures to also help students develop their ICT capability

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Effective teaching strategies and ICT tools in the Literacy classroom


Below is a list of resources and ideas that we found might help get you started when using word processors at your school. We are continually updating this list, so please continue to visit the page.


  • Editing Text: This is a very simple and easy idea when it comes to teach young students about literacy. You could use a printed, error free version to give to them which they could then use to make the necessary corrections to the on-screen version. It is advised not to allow spellcheckers at this stage. Differentiation within the students' abilities can be taken into account by not providing a printed copy to the more capable students.
  • Identifying parts of text for further work: In this exercise, you can ask the students to highlight the text or change its colour or embolden it to make it stand out. Text chosen can then be reworked without the need for rewriting.
  • Proactive use of Spellcheckers: Get students to keep a record of their spelling errors that are regularly identified by the Spellchecker. Later, these words can be entered into a personal spelling log. Students can use this to focus on their spelling later on. 
  • Proactive use of Grammar checkers: You can apply the same steps as you did for the Spellchecker. The list created can be used by students to focus on the sense and structure of their writing.
  • Colouring expository text: You can help students to quickly assess whether their paragraphs are organised or not and need improvement by getting them to colour specific parts of the paragraph to identify the opening, the topic and concluding sentences, and any reasons, examples and explanations. Remember to use different colours for the various sections you want them to highlight. For this to be effective, you need to ensure that this is consistently done.
  • Narrative or autobiographical writing using starter texts: This is said to be one of the best ways to get students to start writing with a partially written line of text. Students are projected straight into the story. Other variations include providing students with more demanding paragraphs, providing three paragraphs, setting the genre as the style of the writing or that is at odds with the nature of the paragraph.
  • Text to table conversion: In addition to the above process, students can then do further text evaluation by converting their text to tables. Ensure that each sentence has its own cell. This allows them to look at the each sentence individually and assess and revise it in a number of ways.


Hamilton (2007, 109) suggests that the following mini-lessons should be modelled at a time and gradually added to expectations:

- Text organisation: Students read every sentence to determine it is in the correct place in    the paragraph. Any row can be moved to reorganise the text.

- Expansion of text: Students can insert a row at any point in the table and add sentences.   Inserting a row into a table is easier for some students than adding a sentence to a           traditional paragraph.

- Subject-verb: Every sentence has a subject and a verb. All verbs should be the same         tense. All subjects and verbs should agree in number.

- Sentence length: Good writing varies the length of sentences.

- Transitions: Once students have learned to organise well, they should drop the                  transitional words.

- Sentence beginnings: When many sentences start with the same words, the paragraph       suffers.


The widespread use of word processors as a generic tool in classrooms makes it easy for you as a teacher to help students develop the key 21st century skill – ICT capability. Basically, through planning you can optimise its use whenever you set your students work that involves its use. From here, the next step is to accurately monitor their progress in their techniques and keep records of it to use for future planning. 



LEARN MORE HERE: Exploiting technology in the classroomMS Office: How teachers are missing opportunities, Ideas for using ICT for literacy , Whole-class teaching: ICT and literacy together




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