By Michael Hilkemeijer
Language, literacy and early childhood education is of upmost importance in today's society.
Early childhood has increasingly focused on it and emergent literacy skills to prepare young children to become strong readers by the third grade.
So I am going to talk to you about ICT tools and activities that can promote literacy and language development from Preschool through to Year 1 in lower primary.
Collaboration, ICT and Language Development
To begin with I want to discuss about collaboration because most ICT work involves collaboration and this leads to effective communication between children with different languages at times.
Collaboration of children generates discussions and you will find that the quality of discussion is quite noticeable.
The Early Years Learning Framework in Outcome 5 asks early childhood teachers to promote collaborative learning.
Additionally, the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines has references to collaborative work with technologies to investigate or solve a problem.
So collaboration is a key early years teacher strategy that will ensure that ICT is collaboratively used for the development of language and literacy.
What are some good early years teacher strategies to use?
You might recall that I discussed in another blog a number of ICT tools that support language development.
The impact that ICT tools will have on learning depends primarily on the teaching strategies which you choose to use.
So I am going to discuss first a couple of these and I hope that you keep these in mind for future planning.
Computers can be used very effectively for one-to-one work between the teacher or other adult and one child at a time, or for paired collaborative work.
Even for small group discussions.
For some teachers, they use their computers during whole-class teaching and place their ICT areas on the edge of the carpeted or group areas.
When working one-on-one with children at the computer, introduce basic skills of computer use as well providing useful contexts for a wider discussion.
Discussion as we know is a key strategy in language development.
Doing this will also provide you with a baseline assessment of their ICT capabilities in addition to determining the opportune moments for intervention.
It will be important for you to check to see if they are actually learning the ideas and skills that you have planned.
Back to the topic of discussion, open-ended and creative software such as paint programs can provide a lot of context for discussion.
As children create things on screen, their talk will be about what is going on and what they are trying to achieve.
As the activity is more creative, the language will be more creative too.
This will provide you with a good insight into the children’s linguistic abilities and you will be able to help develop their vocabulary and their speaking and listening skills.
When you work alongside the children on a computer it provides you with a great opportunity to model the effective use of software and management of programs.
But most importantly, you will model the appropriate behaviour when working collaboratively.
What are some ideas for ICT activities to support Language and Literacy Development?
Like I discussed earlier, the activities revolve around the particular ICT tool.
So for example, if you the children have an iPad or some other tablet computer, they can the camera to take a series of digital images of a task undertaken with a group such as a baking activity.
They can then sort them out into the correct chronological order and stored as a presentation on a computer.
Digital images makes an excellent source material for discussion!
What if another activity which you could encourage to do was to make puppets of a familiar story and then use the puppets to retell the story?
You could encourage the children to use the video recorder on the iPad or even if you had an extension cable for the USB to connect to the webcam to record this and be used later for further discussion.
Of course there are Integrated Learning Software such as Literacy software which is good if you want specifically focus on that itself.
However, they are not ideal if you want to develop their capabilities in ICT.