Using digital & media technologies in the classroom

Reading Barone and Wright’s (2008) article on ‘literacy instruction with digital and media technologies’ in The reading teacher, I came across a number of great activities for teachers wanting to introduce technology into their classroom. These activities  will encourage a high level of engagement and understanding in the classroom.  The article (Barone & Wright 2008) demonstrates how incorporating technology in the classroom can just as effectively aid students in developing their knowledge and understanding of content through the use of digital media technologies as traditional teaching methods.

The following activities were explored in Barone and Wright’s (2008) article;

1. MORNING SPONGE

This is an activity that can be conducted at the beginning of the day/lesson. Students will go online and check the day’s “morning sponge”.  The aim of this activity is to keep students engaged as teachers check in on each individual student (Barone & Wright, 2008,p.295).  For example, Barone and Wright (2008) describe a scenario in Wright’s classroom whereby the morning sponge is centred on ‘vocabulary’. Students can then search a particular word using the online thesaurus. Then using a word processing document; write a sentence using the particular word, and use a drawing application to create a drawing of this word as well. The activity demonstrates the ‘hybridity evident in new literacies documents, where students use word processing, drawing, or music in a single document’ (Barone & Wright 2008,p. 295). Morning sponge exposes students to the various ways they can represent their understanding of a term or phrase and by encouraging students to find the definition of a word, include that word in a sentence and represent that word in a drawing, students are gaining a far deeper understanding and engagement with the text.

2. INSTANT MESSAGING (IM)

Instant messaging during learning activities gives students the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions, however, only amongst a small groups of students. In the case of Barone and Wright (2008), instant messaging is used as a medium of communication between two students, more specifically to; think, pair, share.  By enabling students the opportunity to discuss their thoughts with a buddy, and not aloud, it removes any apprehensions students may have to talking aloud in front of the class.  Barone and Wright (2008)argue that this type of communication enables ‘deeper comprehension and fosters engagement'(p.295). Personally, looking back at myself as a primary student, I would have been far more engaged in learning activities if I was given the opportunity to share my thoughts with only a few of my peers and not the whole class. By encouraging conversation through IM , students are given the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills by asking questions, suggesting ideas and arguing their points of view in a safe environment.

3. WRITING FIX (www.writingfix.com)

This resource is incredibly useful for teachers wanting to provide students with interactive prompts for writing tasks online. Barone and Wright (2008) explain how in Wright’s classroom scenario, students were set a ‘quickwrite’ task (rough draft of a writing piece) – tell us about your imaginary friend, however, some students were struggling with adding enough description and content to their piece. Consequently, Wright instructed students to visit the writing fix page to aid in elaborating on their initial writing ideas.  Writingfix  prompts students with questions about their imaginary friend in regards to colour, shape, size etc.  After collecting enough description, students were then able to attempt the quickwrite again.  This method provides every student with the opportunity to develop their writing at their own rate, without having to wait for teacher assistance. Ultimately, it allows for the classroom teacher to  focus their efforts on discussing the additional language features of the students’ text, ie. grammar, use of language, structure, fluency etc.,  rather than on what content should be included.

References:

Barone, D., & Wright, T. E. (2008). Literacy instruction with digital and media technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-302

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