Unquestionably, language Arts incorporates the reading and writing process. Before discussing technology and it’s advantages with reading and writing, it is necessary to remember that many other subjects within our children’s school day require reading and writing skills in order to address the core curriculum content. Mathematics lessons often require children to explain in written form how they came to a particular conclusion. Science projects require research and a comprehensive understanding that must be transcribed into a succinct version of the topic. Social Studies include many forms of reading and response to a particular area of schoolwork. Health and language topics also require reading comprehension and the writing process. Each subject in the curriculum requires students to read, research, and write about a particular topic. Technology is often overlooked in this process as a valuable tool that has the ability to enhance these learning skills. Technology has the capability to motivate the learner, while providing students with the literary skills vital for success with today’s curriculum.
As a kindergarten teacher, I am currently focusing my efforts on the science curriculum, and developed a thematic unit on Weather and Seasons for my students. Many of the resources we use from the Internet and library require literacy skills for success with the students’ projects. My students are required to keep a journal in which they log their science learning activities and ideas. They complete this written journal using small sentence formation and illustrations appropriate to their age. I taught them to use Internet Resources such as Brain Pop, which includes a “Write about it” tab.
Educational technology is embracing literacy instruction beyond its oral and print-based tradition. “The Internet is constructing global bridges for students to communicate, by changing the way that information is absorbed, processed, and used. Technology is influencing how people read, write, listen, and communicate.”(Holum, 2001) With this in mind, my students are also encouraged to communicate with their ePal partner schools in a shared writing lesson, an activity providing this young generation with the ability to jointly watch the writing process being developed appropriately. I usually complete this assignment on the Smart Board so all students’ attention is focused on how we develop appropriate written work, and how we can edit our ideas once we’ve read our work aloud. The students are much more attentive when using the Smart Board, rather than when I use chart paper or the chalk board. They are excited and know that the work they are doing is special and something some of their caregivers or parents did not have the opportunity to do during their kindergarten years. I hear this sentiment repeated from caregivers everyday, which helps to solidify my belief that technology enhances student motivation with use in school day assignments.
Kindergarten students are still developing the required phonics and decoding skills for successful reading comprehension. I find many of them talking home e-books that helps increase their oral vocabulary related to weather terms. The students are also provided with effective decoding skills when these terms are used in a Power Point presentation for drill and practice. Not only are the young learners able to read these scientific terms, but they are also given the opportunity to use these terms in a sentence. We use Kid Pix so the students can type new vocabulary and create digital drawings of each new vocabulary term. When all of these technology-enhanced lessons are combined, my young learners eagerly take ownership of their reading and writing skills. New words become familiar reading words and each student is capable of using the new vocabulary appropriately when discussing the daily weather. When using an e-book, rather than a read aloud, I am able to focus my full attention on my learners’ comprehension while assessing and questioning the comprehension of the students. Teachers who use audio books are able to make more effective use of questioning and discussion time because they could pay attention to the content and meaning of the text, focusing on students’ comprehension process and not just their own spoken performance”.(Hobbs, 2007) My students can also listen to chosen e-books in classroom centers and share them with their families at home. They find it more enjoyable to use the computer than struggle with flipping pages in their tiny hands. These books provide another visual, so important for keeping the attention of little minds.
Today’s classrooms are filled with rich literacy content across the curriculum. Each subject and grade level is required to go beyond the basic skill content and enhance writing and reading lessons through thematic units. Technology promotes learning even further by motivating the students and engaging all learning types and special needs. Technology- savvy teachers become an inspiration to our profession. Typically, you see a high success rate from their students and a level of enthusiasm palpable upon entry to their classrooms. At this juncture, technology is here for the duration. It is evident that it is in everyone’s best interest, especially our students, to utilize this dynamic tool within the educational day
Hobbs, R. (2007, May 17). Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills Using Audio Books to Promote Critical Listening Skills. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from School of Communication and Theatre; Media Education Lab: http://mediaeducationlab.com/using-audio-books-promote-critical-listening-skills
Holum, A. P. (2001,October). Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction. Retrieved 2010, 17-March from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory: http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li300.htm