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;


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.


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.


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.


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


Critical Thinkers

I thoroughly enjoyed this video!
The video uses BP’s “environmental friendly” video to highlight to kids how important it is to ask questions about whatever you see the internet. Why? How? What was the authors intent? Are they they telling the truth? Whats really going on? The video explores the idea of ‘green washing’ by discussing BP’s choice of bright colours, happy babies and cheerful music, in order to draw away from the true facts about how they run their business. The puppets in this video encourage students to think critically and be wary of what is available online. This is becoming increasingly important as the internet plays a huge role in children’s lives at home and at school nowadays.

New Literacies?

I suppose the first place to start would be to explain my initial thoughts on the term ‘literacy’. Personally, I think of literacy or being literate as being able to read and write. Taking this into consideration, perhaps new literacies involves those same abilities but with the addition of a shift in focus to new technology. Houtman (2013) explains that new literacies involve having the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing, speaking, handwriting, print, tv, radio and films to digital social networks. A statement I came across while reading; new literacy “what it means to be literate in the 21st century”, in my opinion, explains it quite accurately (Houtman 2013).

What we consider literacy to be nowadays appears to change on a daily basis, as we experience the rapid transformations technology goes through on a daily basis. Houtman (2013) explores the idea that new literacies are continuously transforming with technology. In saying that, Lankshear & Knobel (2012,p.45) explain that it is much more than just a focus on literacy forms in regards to technology but that it should be acknowledged as an “historical period of social, cultural, institutional, economic and intellectual change that is likely to span many decades”. Their idea of new literacies still involves a transformation, however, more specially, new literacies will cease to be “new” once the social ways characterizing the ascending paradigm are considered “conventional” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2012,p.46)

What I can take away from what I have read, is that it is considerably difficult to pin point exactly what new literacies are, but that it involves changes in social and cultural practices, and ultimately once something is considered ‘conventional’ it is no longer new and potentially replaced with something else. Is facebook is no longer considered a new literacy? And twitter?



Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from Accessed March 20th, 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from Accessed March 20th, 2014