Whole class teaching: ICT and Literacy

By Michael Hilkemeijer

Whole-class teaching provides many benefits for the learning of literacy for students. Today, the use of ICT such as data projectors can aide in this strategy as it provides support and enhances learning in literacy lessons.

Evidence shows that when teachers implement practical methods of using ICT for literacy lessons 21st century skills can also be developed.


ICT Capability and Literacy

The use of ICT in the teaching of literacy allows teachers to capitalise on its use in order to help students develop their ICT capability. One of the best ways to teach literacy to primary students, in particular, is through the interaction with generic software such as MS Word, MS PowerPoint, and even MS Publisher.

Such software is commonplace in schools, however, schools do have different choices to choose from when it comes to word processors, DTP, and presentation software.  In the end, as long as these generic types of software are available in the classroom then ICT capability and literacy and are developed alongside each other.


Teachers who wish to help students develop this 21st century skill can boost the extent that students learn by becoming more confident in their use of generic software such as those mentioned. Research (Kennewell et al., 2000) has shown that the ICT capabilities of a teacher can have a significant impact on a student’s learning in a literacy-technology environment.

It indicated that those with the more advanced capabilities are willing to explore teaching approaches that integrate their use of ICT with the spirit of structured literacy teaching (Kennewell et al., 2000, 105).


Students don’t always need to sit at a computer in order to develop their ICT capability. Whole-class teaching can be an effective way to help students develop conceptual understanding and higher order skills.

Teachers can implement this strategy to question students, have group discussions of processes that will be carried out, and model the planning, evaluating and hypothesising to students.


Literacy with ICT in primary schools is a win-win for you as you can embed teaching strategies for literacy with ICT that will develop literacy and ICT capability at the same time.


Whole class teaching

There are a number of ways that ICT can be used for whole class teaching of literacy. These include the following:

  • Presentations;
  • Presenting text;
  • Demonstrations;
  • Explanations;
  • Giving instructions;
  • Linking ideas; and
  • Showing video clips.

In terms of developing student ICT capability, the top four points provide the best strategies for teachers. Along with MS Word, presentation software such as PowerPoint can be used in literacy teaching.

Teachers can present information such as text and illustrations to the class. Its real power lies within the teacher’s ability to demonstrate throughout the teaching of literacy various skills that students can learn.

For example, whilst presenting the information you could weave into the lesson a method in which you could introduce new skills to students.


ICT capability is an important 21st century skill that students need in order to participate and be empowered in life today. By planning for the progression of student capabilities in literacy lesssons this can be achieved.



ICT classroom

Engaging Children in ICT

As a primary teacher, your ultimate aim when you’re engaging students with ICT in either your own classroom or the ICT classroom is to enable them to reach the stage where the technology they are using becomes sufficiently transparent that they are almost unaware of its existence. While this is what it means to develop children’s ICT capability when you teach ICT capability the children need to become focused on using ICT as a tool to achieve other outcomes that they hardly notice that they are using technology itself.


You know the feeling! Many of us use word processors effectively meaning that we don’t even think about it, we just do it. Or when using Google to search the WWW. You have developed a range of ‘transparent’ routines and ICT techniques that are part of your unconscious action.


It should be the same for your students when you teach ICT capability in the ICT classroom or anywhere else.


Before I get into this any further, you need to understand the different levels of engagement and purpose of classroom ICT.


There are two types of classroom ICT that you need to consider when planning ICT use. They can be categorised into two categories – the computer is in control and the computer provides tools. I will provide examples of engaging in classroom ICT for both of them.


Computer in Control

In this type of technology, students are ‘restricted’ to either a specific response to what the computer decides to show them or a drill and practice programs. Earlier in another article, I discussed the disadvantages of this type of technology as an Integrated Learning System. Such systems require minimal capabilities on the part of the students.


This does not mean that they are not engaging. Examples of ILS are literacy specific software and provides one way that you as a teacher in primary education can teach literacy with ICT. However, it does little to develop their ICT capability with classroom ICT and in fact, works more on teacher ICT capability as you have to diagnose students’ progress.


It is because of its minimum use by the students themselves that it does not have a high level of engagement by students. A high level of engagement requires students to develop their higher order thinking skills. The subject-specific software engages them in learning about the subject only. This is great if this is your goal with the classroom ICT. However, teachers in Australian primary education, for example, need to also focus on developing and teaching ICT capability.


This brings me to the next type of classroom ICT.


Computer provides tools

In my view, this type of classroom ICT provides the maximum amount of engagement for students as it enables you to equip students with sufficient experience to enable them to use classroom ICT without having to stop and think.


The most effective way for you to teach ICT capability that involves ICT techniques is to create a need, and then to be on hand to show them what to do when they are engaged in the problem. You need to develop children’s abilities and confidence to make independent choices.


Tool classroom ICT enables you to develop student ICT capability that involves getting students engaged in routines, ICT techniques, conceptual understanding, and higher order thinking skills in order to achieve an ICT solution to the problem. Teaching literacy with ICT in primary classrooms is the best way to achieve this today. Let’s take a closer look at how this can be achieved.


Literacy and ICT in the primary school classroom can work hand-in-hand as we know that ICT can motivate students to learn. When they are actively engaged in the learning process they do learn more. Active engagement when teaching literacy with ICT may involve physical movement and/or verbal interaction. It always involves cognitive thinking on the half of the students.


Classroom ICT can have a tremendous positive impact on student motivation. Students find the use of classroom ICT enjoyable. For example, the Internet and other ICTs can be very engaging, sometimes increasing self-efficacy or belief in ability to read and write.


Teachers who effectively integrate instruction for literacy with ICT are able to distinguish among motivation, engagement and learning, thus keeping their eyes on the ultimate goal of learning.


The most engaging classroom ICT for literacy, therefore, are the ones that allow you to model and demonstrate the appropriate use of ICT such as:


Word processors – these can contribute to the writing process when students plan and draft work, edit work, proofread their final version of work, and present their work. Editing offers powerful possibilities and may be structured in ways that develop both literacy and ICT capability.

Graphics software – Yes, that’s right! Your children can design logos when you teach ICT capability whilst supporting work on interpreting methods of communication. Drawing programs can be used to create images to communicate information in newspapers and magazines. They can select and manipulate images from a wide variety of sources.

Graphing programs – If you want children to engage with information critically and so you want them to have a range of opportunities through which to explore the issues of selection and presentation of data.

Databases – You can make effective use of databases at the primary school level when you teach literacy with ICT as they provide opportunities for the teaching and reinforcement of a range higher order language skills such as keyword selection and the skimming and scanning of text.


Each of the above classroom ICT can be effectively taught through whole class teaching.




whole class teaching strategies

Using ICT as a Teaching and Learning Strategy

One of the key characteristics of ICT as a teaching and learning strategy is whole class teaching. In this article, I will discuss the value of ICT in the ICT classroom. You will learn whole class teaching strategies that will enable you to harness ICT in the classroom.


What is whole class teaching? It is simply about bringing the whole class together as a large group. It is effective for the reason that you can initiate a whole class discussion, demonstrate new ICT techniques and concepts to students that you can follow up as individuals or small group interventions.


When developing student ICT capability, the use of whole class teaching with a large screen is one of the most successful strategies that you can use in the classroom. This is dependent on whether you use it to model and demonstrate ICT techniques the appropriate use of classroom ICT such as the software mentioned earlier.


For example, with word processors, you can model the appropriate use of classroom ICT such as scribing and amending shared writing in literacy lessons by using whole class teaching or a group using the IWB. Additionally, you could demonstrate how to insert an image into a word processor document, cutting and pasting, or deciding how and when to use the spell checker when teaching literacy with ICT.


While we are on the topic of IWB, it is significant to understand that in order for students to develop into discerning and creative users of ICT along with having such critical, confident, and expansive depositions 

towards ICT, they need opportunities to develop their ICT capability over time. This can only be done if they use and apply their skills, knowledge and understanding across a range of purposeful and meaningful contexts.


IWB can be used for many good reasons when it comes to whole class teaching as it is engaging and interactive. However, a child’s ICT capability will not be developed by simply inviting children to drag and drop objects around an IWB every now and then in a whole class lesson.


Despite this, whole class teaching strategies with the use of ICT can be useful when using the IWB in conjunction with a digital project. You could this strategy to organise ICT in a high resource setting such as an ICT classroom. Whole class logons with the same username and password into a general area on the network is just an idea that many teachers use. Yet, remember the simple rule that unless the children are very young, they should be taught to log on themselves. Whole class teaching demonstrations can and should still take place, but they need to be a sensible length, enabling students to make the best use of the time available.


A final note to remember about this is that children can contribute to the whole class understanding and skills development in ICT capability. You always need to provide them with the opportunity for them to do so at times during, or at the close of the session.



What about low ICT resource settings? Not all schools are resourced equally so whole class teaching strategies can be enhanced by using the following principles (Allen, Potter, Sharpe, & Turvey, 2012, p. 25):

  • Ask the children to discover during the session, and then report back on, different ways of doing the same thing. In a writing program for example, how can they make text appear in a different font size or colour?
  • Stress regular, practical instructions. One such regularly repeated instruction should be ‘Save before you print’, in order to avoid the inevitable heartache which arises when a document gets lost.
  • As is the case with all good primary practice, question children who don’t always jump up and down with the answer (don’t favour the loud over the quiet).
  • Do not allow one gender or group of children to dominate. Stress the team-building aspects of sharing strategies so that they/we can all use the computer efficiently and safely.
  • Involve children in a discussion about safety – monitor position, length of time, seating, and so on.
  • Value what children contribute even when it is patently wrong. Help them to discover a better way constructively (e.g. ‘That’s a good suggestion but …’).
  • Draw on children’s experience of ICT at home or in other community settings.




The use of ICT in the traditional classroom or ICT classroom itself enables you as the primary teacher to make inherent use of its provisionality. It has capabilities to reach the average student in the classroom and shares teaching strategies similar to that in literacy lessons. Whole class teaching strategies are, therefore, ideal when teaching literacy with ICT with the added goal of developing ICT capability.


The ICT Classroom and Professional Development

In an era that is dominated by digital technology the ICT classroom is an essential part of a child’s education in early childhood, primary and secondary. An ICT capable classroom is more than just a technology-rich learning environment. The best ICT classroom is one where teachers have been given professional development opportunities to formatively assess student capabilities in ICT to personalise instruction with evidence based strategies .


We see the best ICT classroom to be a combination of:

  1. Teachers who not only are prepared to use Information and Communication Technology, but use it as a model for students even if they don’t know anything, and allow students access when it might be helpful for their learning;
  2. Students who are disposed to use ICT and can judge when it is likely to be helpful in their work, rather than just using ICT for the sake of it;
  3. ICT resources and tools that are easily available.


Such training in ICT integration should impact positively the attitudes of teachers in using ICT in meaningful and subject-related context.


We help create ICT classrooms (Information and Communication Technology capable classrooms) by delivering research and evidence based teaching strategies for teachers. If your school is to develop ICT capable students, it will be the work of the teachers and other staff who support ICT learning.


Our online PD courses for teachers that are ideal for teacher in-service training (INSET):

  • Maintains a focus on the ICT classroom practices;
  • Takes into account the radical effects that ICT can have upon the teaching environment;
  • Takes into account the organisational structure of your school’s climate;
  • Takes into account your personal and professional aspirations and long term interests as a teacher;
  • Addresses issues of learning progression in ICT capability in relation to ICT skills, competence and attitude and;
  • Encourage self-reflection and professional reflection.


Learn today how to build the right ICT classroom learning environment in our:


Register your teachers now and challenge the effectiveness of your own classroom practices today.


ICT classroom