By Michael Hilkemeijer
What should teachers know about literacy-technology integration? How can you know when you are using technology in meaningful ways and toward suitable purposes?
The answer lies in understanding and setting classroom goals for effective literacy-technology integration. In this article I highlight on instruction that is meaningful and purpose-driven – driven by students’ instructional needs and meaningful as in likely to address those instructional needs (Taffe & Gwinn, 2007).
When teaching literacy in primary education, your goals of technology integration should begin with enabling the children to reach the stage where the technology they are using becomes sufficiently ‘transparent’ that they are almost unaware of its existence.
Equip the children in your classroom with sufficient experience to enable them to use ICT without having to stop and think because this ICT capability can be developed alongside literacy learning.
Other goals should be aligned with the following knowledge and includes the ones that you see here:
- What we know about the development of skills and strategies related to paper-and-pencil literacy.
- What you know about the specific needs of learners in a classroom, balanced with their specific strengths and current competencies.
- What we are learning both collectively as a field and individually in each of our classrooms, about the skills and strategies of new literacies.
(Taffe & Gwinn, 2007, p. 27)
The literacy objectives should always overshadow the learning objectives for ICT. However, you need to constantly monitor the way the children are solving the problems and doing the tasks that you are able to show them any new or better ways of using ICT to achieve literacy learning outcomes.
Instructional Strategies for Literacy with ICT
With these goals in mind for technology integration, the best instructional strategies for literacy with ICT include the following 10 characteristics (Taffe & Gwinn, 2007):
Integration of conventional and new literacies
In order to effectively integrate technology into the literacy curriculum it will be important for you to move students cohesively around between digital and paper texts having them read and write in a variety of genres in each medium.
This should be about questioning information, identifying multiple perspectives on a single idea or even and understanding controversy. Today, with the emergence of new technologies comes new literacies and proficient critical thinking is a key component of new literacies. Students should be able to decide which links to click on when reading a webpage, whether a webpage is providing necessary information for a particular purpose, and whether the information presented is credible.
Promoting learning to learn
Students are required to learn not only the information available at the present time but also how to update their knowledge continuously. It is, therefore, important for you to equip the students with the necessary skills for learning new formats for reading and writing. Inquiry-based learning is applied here as student-generated questions will allow them to approach an area of study in unique and personal ways.
Integration of literacy instruction with content-area instruction
As with the earlier infusion of technology by conventional and new literacies, it is also characterised by curricular integration, specifically the integration of literacy instruction with content-area instruction.
Attention to social interaction and collaboration
Social interaction and collaboration are central to the workings of an effective technology-rich learning environment. Studies have indicated that those teachers who “effectively integrate literacy and technology treat social interaction and grouping arrangements as an important part of the curriculum” (Taffe & Gwinn, 2007, 31).
Differentiation of instruction
This instructional strategy for literacy is intended to meet the individual needs of all students as they engage in literacy-related learning experiences. You must ensure that you affirm that students have different learning needs, strengths, styles, interests and preferences. When you plan, you will also need to ensure that you have as a goal move every students as far and as fast as possible along a learning continuum. It particularly requires you to pay more attention to instructional strategies and materials, practice opportunities, methods of assessment, topics used to address underlying content, pace of work, or any strategic combination of the above (Taffe & Gwinn, 2007).
Equity of access to Technology
This truly speaks for itself to ensure that all students have access to the curriculum so that they too can learn.
Emphasis on the classroom as a learning community
It will be important for you to create a sense of community in the classroom especially with regard to the rich diversity in culture, language, and home life that children will bring to your classroom. Good learning communities integrate important aspects of each community member’s history, culture, language and prior knowledge.
Multifaceted preparation for instruction coupled with flexibility and responsiveness
Routinely spend time reviewing websites, collaborating with technology support personnel, planning for teaching both content and process related to new literacies. You will also need to create materials such as learning guides to support students as they apply what they have learned. After this, embed formative assessment strategies to observe and monitor whether you need to adjust your teaching approach.
Preservation of fundamental features of exemplary print-based literacy instruction
The integration of ICT into literacy instruction should always contribute to and enhance, not replace or detract from, aspects of exemplary literacy learning environments.
I hope that these instructional strategies for literacy with ICT will help you in your literacy teaching in primary school today. If you would like to learn how to apply and embed them in your lessons, become a member of our ICT in Education Teacher Academy and gain access to all literacy workshops for teachers now for just $50 AUD per month (cancel anytime).
60 + Online Technology Professional Development for Teachers