As a primary educator and technology enthusiast, I have had countless conversations with colleagues around the world about using technology in literacy lessons. Common questions and topics for debate include: What happens to fine motor skills when students switch pencils for screens? What if my students know more than I do about the technology? Is it safe for them to be reading and writing for hours on screen? How can we preserve traditional literacy skills while moving with the technological developments of our times? These are all very valid questions, however the correct use of technology will serve only to enhance the teaching and learning process.
Educators should be innovative, risk takers who enjoy a challenge and are keen to try something new if it has the potential to excite, engage and support their students. They should also keep in mind traditional teaching techniques that work. Yes, students need to be ‘tech-savvy’, as new technologies are being introduced constantly. This means that when many of our current students complete their studies and enter the workforce, they will be using technology that is not yet available to us at present.
From a traditionalist perspective, focus should be kept on spelling strategies, encouraging students to write creatively and to take pride in the presentation of their ideas using pencil and paper. So, how can this balance be achieved? Technology, when used should add value to traditional pedagogy and bring something different to teaching and learning.
Here are three of the ways that I’ve recently used technology effectively in my literacy lessons. Each of these tools helped to excite and motivate my students as writers.
Make writing matter – LendMeYourLiteracy.com
This website offers a variety of innovative and creative ways in which you can use technology to engage your students. Writing for a purpose doesn’t get more real than this. Use the daily writing prompts to launch your day, as children respond to the ‘Picture of the Day’ while you take your register. While planning for your lessons, you can view thousands of teaching and learning ideas and real work samples from around the world. These can be used as immersion tools. Allowing children to analyse real work by other students will hook them in to a new genre and facilitate the development of peer assessment skills. It can be used to encourage them to do some writing of their own. Perhaps the most exciting way to use LendMeYourLiteracy (LMYL) is to upload a photograph of literacy work from your class (maintain the traditional skills and use technology as a tool!) and watch views and moderated, supportive feedback come in from around the world. Giving your students opportunities to write for a global, supportive and responsive community will engage even the most reluctant of writers. They will ultimately realise that writing matters and that the audience goes way beyond their classroom walls.