How Does Technology Enhance Reading and Writing Across the Content Areas?

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:

Holum, A. P. (2001,October). Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction. Retrieved 2010, 17-March from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory:

Let’s Knock Down the “Walled Garden”!

“Access Denied: You do not have permission to view this site” has become one of the principal frustrations for my district’s teachers and students.  Our administration‘s existing policy uses the “walled garden approach” for browsing the Internet at school. “Walled garden” refers to firewalls instituted by school districts to control access to particular websites for students.  This includes limiting access to all social networking sites, including student e-mail and blogging.

Today’s students are participants in a world where global communication is imperative for their success, now and in the future.  In the 21st century, students are required, by mandated standards, to participate in learning activities requiring collaboration with students from all over the world.  Internet browser restrictions make it nearly impossible for students to connect with learners globally in order to problem solve, and to lessen the barriers of their concrete classroom walls.

You may ask, “What is global communication, and how should students apply it to their critical thinking skills?”  Global learning projects are easily achieved using a variety of access tools; i.e., e-mail, video conferencing, digital photography and video, digital storytelling, instant messaging, blogs and social forums.  Students are capable of joining groups such as ePals or education wiki sites such as Ning. Within these group examples, students can connect to a classroom consisting of similar age students with similar interests to research and collaborate with on a specified topic.  The group ePals has a terrific unit of study on global warming (Global Warming; The Planet is Heating Up, 2010).  Students discuss the effects of global warming and create a presentation explaining methods of reducing global warming.  The selected partner school students discuss the issues in tandem with your students.  There is a required amount of communication within this engaging lesson.  Children’s Dreams at Global SchoolNet Foundation (Children of Dreams, 2000) is another excellent lesson for student global collaboration. This very practical activity requires higher order thinking skills allowing students to develop a vision of the future by visualizing their county’s past in relation to the future. Students develop an appreciation for the various viewpoints of others by encompassing differing lifestyles and cultural backgrounds. This fascinating interaction with students in different countries is accomplished without ever having to leave the classroom.

It has become amazingly simple to establish a topic of interest and locate a participating school from around the world, resulting in communication for your students within a safe Internet setting.  According to Julianne Reed (2010), global project based learning “promotes creativity, addresses all learners, provides success for all students, makes content meaningful, provides an authentic audience, motivates students and empowers students to make a difference.”  This statement confirms my conviction for the use of open technology and supports my understanding of the subject.  Schools should be required to open up the “walled gardens” and embrace social networking sites.  Our students use their cell phones, computers, Twitter, Facebook, etc. as soon as they leave our classrooms. Why not round-up that energy?  Although some networking sites may not have a relative advantage within the classroom environment, there remains a multitude of safe networking sites with carefully monitored incoming content and membership access.  Students have the ability to safely connect and collaborate with other students, teachers and experts from around the world.  Teachers have the ability to restrict groups or web pages access by using a required password or invitation code.  This open technology provides students with the opportunity for freedom of expression, as they enjoy with their peers when they are not in the school setting   Students’ cherished form of communication can always be tweaked for educational purposes.  The result of collaboration with students from other schools and other areas of the world are sure to increase motivation and enthusiasm.  As the old adage goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them!”  There is no better place for students to experiment with social networking, than in the safety of their own school. It is a win, win situation for all.  I challenge educators to convince administration about the disadvantages to site restrictions and blocks.  Someone has to throw the first hammer or the “wall” will never crumble.  Make your students proud!

Children of Dreams. (2000). Retrieved March 3, 2010, from Global School Net: Linking Kids Around the World:

Global Warming; The Planet is Heating Up. (2010). Retrieved March 3, 2010, from ePals Learning Space:

Reed, J. (2010). Global Collaboration and Learning: How to Create a World of Success Without Leaving Your Classroom. Retrieved March 3, 2010, from ED TECH Focus on K-12: