After reading about Todd’s successful journey of teaching with technology in his classroom at Fernley Elementary School in rural Nevada, my eyes have been opened to the many activities and resources possible when adopting a rich approach to new literacies. Technology and new literacies are deictic, meaning they are constantly changing and evolving (Barone and Wright, 2008, p.293), and teachers need to be aware of this within their classroom programs. Professional development and collaboration will assist with teachers keeping up to date with new activities they can use to ensure successful implantation of new literacies. Therefore, I wanted to share some activities I found interesting from Todd’s journey. These are outlined below.
In Todd’s classroom every student is issued with a laptop to use for the school year. Todd has established an idea known as the Morning Sponge, in which every day he posts a new activity for the students to do when he is busy individually assisting other students. Todd describes this as “an activity to keep students engaged” (Barone & Wright, 2008, p.295). The students in his class know to check it each morning, as the activities change. Each activity involves a variety of “word processing, drawing, or music in a single document” (Barone & Wright, 2008, p.295), enhancing the students’ skills in technology. An example of an activity from the sponge is on vocabulary. The students practice using the thesaurus on their computer to gain an understanding on the meaning of the word and related words, then use this knowledge to write a sentence. The student then draws a “nonlinguistic representation” (Barone & Wright, 2008, p.295) of the word using the drawing tool. This activity not only supports the students development in vocabulary meaning making but also allows for other vital technological skills to be developed.
IM (Instant Messaging) – a technological tool for the students to use while they Pair-Share. Pair-sharing is an activity that the students will already be aware of, used often through verbal communication. Using instant messenger allows students to share their thoughts, or ask their partners questions through a different outlet. Instant messenger and supporting the idea of pair-sharing can be used within any KLA and for any opportunity where communicating their ideas is the outcome. Given in the article was the example of using instant messenger during a whole class reading session. The teacher reads the book aloud to the class, pausing at times to allow the students to IM their pair-share buddies and discuss. This will of course assist the students who are not as comfortable with verbally saying their opinions and posing questions, as well as using “IM to deepen comprehension and foster engagement” (Barone & Wright, 2008, p.295) in the activity and book.
While according to the article (2008) Quick Write is known in their classroom as first draft writing (Barone & Wright, p.298), I see that linking it with technology is a beneficial activity that all teachers could use. Completed on their laptops, the students do a Quick Write while the teacher walks around assisting when needed in order to improve their writing. Used throughout this activity is also the help of websites, for example www.writingfix.com, where the application encourages brainstorming around description of characters or content. This amalgamation of developing their writing as well as building skills in reading websites and computer typing, all assist students in effectively using new literacies. The Quick Writes are saved into a folder electronically for the students to go back and look at every two weeks (Barone & Wright, 2008, p.298). They continue to edit their work using applications such as thesaurus and spell check, however are taught that the computer isn’t always correct, until their writing piece is complete and their Quick Write process will begin again when they write something else.
Pericles, K. (2008). Happily blogging @ Belmore South. SCAN, 27(2), 4-6
Barone, D., & Wright, T. E. (2008). Literacy instruction with digital and media technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-302