Multimedia digital books: Forward Thinking

Teaching the Language Arts: Forward Thinking in Today’s Classrooms by Elizabeth Dobler, Denise Johnson and Thomas DeVere Wolsey. Published by Inkling

forward thinking

  When I received a copy of Forward Thinking I was immediately struck by the calibre of the authors (Elizabeth Dobler, Denise Johnson and our own Literacy Beat blogger De Vere Wolsey). In turn, each author is well respected within the literacy community for situating their research in classrooms and making strong research-to-practice connections. The six modes of the Language Arts- reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and visually representing provide the organisational framework of this etext. However, it is the enhanced etext publishing format which I want to particularly draw attention to in this post.

A number of distinctive features encourage active learning environments by combining traditional and electronic content. These features allow the reader to transact with the text in multiple ways through media elements such as, video, graphics, and audio which are embedded in the etext. Readers can watch lessons being taught in real classrooms; have instant access to multiple resource ideas that are shared through video clips (e.g. writing workshop); listen to podcasts of teachers and students; view graphics of work samples and follow hyperlinks to websites. In addition, links between research and practice are featured in interviews with scholars like Don Leu, Dorothy Strickland and Nell Duke. Finally, the etext incorporates a note sharing feature which could be used to create pathways to learning through listening, reading and viewing within a community of learners.

The authors of Forward Thinking note that the book models ways in which electronic resources can be integrated with and used to augment traditional classroom instruction. Forward Thinking  allows us  envision the possibilities when technology is integrated in meaningful ways to enhance literacy and learning in the 21st century classroom.

Mom’s Recipe Box, Old Lesson Plan Folders, and My iPad

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

In an old file box for 4X6 index cards, my Mom kept favorite family recipes. Some of these cannot be found online because they were traded among her friends and relatives long before Pinterest or Facebook made it possible to share a recipe link online.  I wanted to share copies of these with my brother and sisters, but making copies on paper seemed the wrong way to go.  By layering applications, I found I could recreate those 4X6 index cards, make many of them searchable, and share them with family and friends.  I used Evernote and Scanner Pro along with tags that corresponded with Mom’s original index card system (each letter represented a category of recipe, such as “cookies” and I could also add tags for recipes by season or author). Using these apps was far more efficient than using the traditional flatbed scanner in this instance.

Mom's recipe box

Mom’s recipe box

There are many tools for archiving and sharing recipes (click here for one example)  from file boxes, but I also wanted to archive and share the many file  folders full of lesson plans and resources, such as student work samples, that I collected over the years. The same tools I used to store and share Mom’s recipe box worked well here. My manila file folders full of news clippings, handwritten notes, typed lesson plans, and student work samples could easily be converted to a notebook in Evernote. I added tags that roughly matched the file folder label and additional tags for “student work sample” or “lesson plan.”

Eye poem lesson plan

News Clipping

News Clipping via Scanner Pro and Evernote

Some of the items in the folders would fit well in my flatbed scanner with a multisheet feeder. But notes and news clippings might not. Some of the pages were so old I thought they might jam the sheet feeder. My iPad solved this problem along with a scanner app (I used Scanner Pro by Readdle, but there are others). The scanner app uses the camera in the iPad or iPhone to create a scan of whatever paper you have and save it in image format (such as .jpg) or as a PDF file.  I usually choose the PDF format.

Scanner Pro can be easily linked to Evernote so that scans are automatically sent to Evernote.  In Evernote, you can annotate the file with new notes, tag the note, and share the note or the notebook with others. Be sure you consider copyright and fair use guidelines, of course, when sharing the work of others.

An eye  poem by Mario (Mariachi)

An eye poem by Mario (Mariachi)

Evernote has a free and a paid or premium version. The free version will work for many teachers, but if you want to upload many files, a paid version may be a better option; fortunately, the paid versions are reasonably priced. I paid $2.99 for Scanner Pro, an investment well worth the price. Scanner Pro allows me to sync automatically to Evernote and other applications. With it, I can adjust borders easily on the rare occasions when the software doesn’t quite capture the edges of whatever sized document I am scanning.

Resources:

Evernote Also be sure to check out Bernadette’s post, here.

Scanner Pro by Readdle

Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning

Book  cover of Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning

When friends write a book, of course, you’re excited for them and can’t wait to read it.  What’s even more wonderful is when you read the book and it’s terrific – one that you know you will use in your own teaching. Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning by Colin Harrison and fellow Literacy Beat bloggers Bernadette Dwyer and Jill Castek is just such a book.

I found this book to be exceptionally useful for many reasons, but I will highlight just two of those reasons here.

First, Colin, Bernadette, and Jill are not only experts in technology and new media; they are first and foremost experts in literacy instruction. They have taught children how to become engaged and successful readers and writers, and they have taught and collaborated with teachers on effective literacy instruction and technology over many years. Their deep knowledge and on-the-ground experiences with children and teachers is demonstrated in every chapter. They speak directly to teachers, acknowledging the realities of today’s schools and the pressure to achieve high academic standards with all students, while offering a vision and concrete classroom examples to inspire us to embrace the challenge.

Second, this book provides a comprehensive blueprint for integrating technology so that children are more successful with print-based reading and writing AND are developing the new literacies of reading, learning, and communicating with eBooks and on the Internet. Bernadette, Jill and Colin complement a chapter on reading eBooks and digital text with two chapters on Internet inquiry – one focusing on the search process and the other focusing on how to compose and communicate through multimodal products. These are areas where we need to make tremendous progress if we are going to prepare our students for a future world that will be more multimodal, more networked, and more dependent on individuals who are creative, strategic, and collaborative.

I’ve copied the table of contents below. You will see that this book offers teachers multiple pathways for moving forward on their own journeys of technology and literacy integration. Enjoy (I know I will)!

Table of Contents

  1. Using technology to make the teaching of literacy more exciting
  2. Strategies for capitalizing on what students already know
  3. Strategies for using digital tools to support literacy development
  4. Strategies for using eReaders and digital books to expand the reading experience
  5. Strategies for teaching the information-seeking cycle: The process stage of searching for information on the Internet
  6. Strategies for teaching the information-seeking cycle: The product stage of searching for information on the Internet
  7. Strategies for encouraging peer collaboration and cooperative learning
  8. Strategies for building communities of writers
  9. Strategies for building teachers’ capacity to make the most of new technologies

Textisms: Violating Ye Olde Grammar Rules

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Are textisms ruining students’ capacity for using standard English? Textisms, J2LYK, are those abbreviations and other shortcuts kids and many adults use when writing in some digital formats such as short message systems (SMS- an abbreviation for short message system referring to those messages sent via wireless communication devices, usually a cell phone) or when using social media such as Twitter. Many people seem to think so.  However, the evidence is growing that this is not the case.

Sketch Texting

Sketch Texting by Guillaume Perreault (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Children, as they grow, are quite adept at understanding the contexts for different registers of language. If they are taught when a given register is appropriate and when it may not be, their ability to adapt to the context seems to increase (see Townsend & Lapp, 2010). Moreover, affinity groups often develop jargon that is unique or understood only by participants in that group. For example, those who participate in online discussions on Facebook or using SMS and are interested in horses, understand that “UD” is a textism for “unplanned dismount” (Cloud 9 Ranch, 2012). You can guess what happened to the rider. Online gamers have textism all their own, as well. Many other textisms are very familiar to wide audiences. LOL, OMG, ROFL–all good examples of those that many people recognize. Of course, textisms are mediated by the technology used to create and transmit the message, as well. The 140 character Tweet is an example demonstrating that a limited number of characters imposed by the technology might encourage use of emoticons, abbreviations, and so on.

A 2009 study (Plester, Wood, & Joshi) found no correlation, or relationship, between students’ use of textisms and their capacity to use traditional spellings and language features. A new study (Wood, Kemp, & Waldron, 2014) examines the  long-term results when children and young adults use textisms, especially as those textisms relate to purposeful violations of grammatical conventions as opposed to errors. The results demonstrated that the subjects in the study showed no negative correlations between their abilities to use conventional grammar appropriate to their ages and their use of textisms. The study seems to suggest that use of textisms means that students are adding a literacy skill to their repertoire rather than replacing one skill set with another.

References:

Cloud 9 Ranch. (2012). How many of these textisms do you use? [Facebook post]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=235772239879305&id=222644657746917

Plester, B., Wood, C., & Joshi, P. (2009). Exploring the relationship between children’s knowledge of text message abbreviations and school literacy outcomes. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27(1), 145-161. doi: 10.1348/026151008X320507

Townsend, D. R. & Lapp. D. (2010). Academic language, discourse communities, and technology: Building students’ linguistic resources. Teacher Education Quarterly, Special Online Edition. Retrieved from http://teqjournal.org/townsend_lapp.html

Wood, C., Kemp, N., & Waldron, S. (2014). Exploring the longitudinal relationships between the use of grammar in text messaging and performance on grammatical tasks. British Journal of Developmental Psychology. Early online release. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjdp.12049/full doi: 10.1111/bjdp.12049

Image Credit:

Perreault, G. (2010, December 5). Sketch texting [drawing]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/guillaumeperreault/

Read more:

Texting Benefits for Teens
IM, SMS, Texting: A Glossary for Teachers
Spell Check and Writing Tasks in High School

Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing

The Literacy Beat Team is re-energizing and will be back in September with new posts and new ideas. Bernadette Dwyer took this photograph while in Vietnam in 2012. Time to relax and refresh!

Gone Fishing

Talking Drawings

by Rebekah Lonon with Karen Wood and Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This is the third in a three-part series exploring conversation and collaboration opportunities using digital tools. Rebekah Lonon describes how she uses “talking drawings” to promote academic discussions in her classes and explains how she uses the Educreations digital tool with her students.

My second-grade students enjoy using the talking drawings strategy regularly in all content areas. I always begin by having the class close their eyes and imagine a mental image of a word or concept. Once they open their eyes, they immediately draw the image they made in their minds. This gives me great insight into their prior knowledge of the topic, and it helps me tailor my instruction for the coming unit. I recently used this strategy to introduce a unit about properties of matter, and I learned that my students associated the word “matter” with something being wrong (“What’s the matter?”). I knew then how my unit needed to be planned.

When it is available for our use, I like to incorporate a digital tool. In this case, I used www.educreations.com because it provides an online venue for creating related drawings. Educreations is also available as an app for mobile devices. After their initial drawings, students independently read a passage, entitled “Why Does Matter Matter?” by Kelly Hashway (n.d.) from the website http://www.superteacherworksheets.com about the states of matter and then they discussed their drawings and thoughts with a partner. Next, they returned to Educreations to create a new drawing, based on their new knowledge. If technology is scarce, students can create their drawings in pairs or small groups, using paper with Crayons or markers. To reflect on what they learn and, as a means of integrating writing with the reading and drawing process, I always ask them to compare their original  and after reading drawing. In this instance, one partner group exclaimed aloud, “Matter DOES matter!” as they drew examples of each state of matter. Another partner group continued their reflection process as they wrote in their journals.  Seeing their developing knowledge when using this strategy is an effective assessment tool for me.

View the video to hear Rebekah explain talking drawings using Educreations.

Bibliography: 

Hashway, K. (n.d.). Why does matter matter? [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.superteacherworksheets.com/matter/matter-article_WMTBN.pdf

McConnell, S. (1992/3). Talking drawings: A strategy for assisting learners. Journal of Reading, 36(4), 260-269.

Wolsey, T.D., Wood, K., & Lapp, D. (in press). Conversation, collaboration, and the Common Core: Strategies for learning together. IRA e-ssentials series: What’s New?Newark, DE :International Reading Association.

Wood, K. D., & Taylor, D. B. (2006). Literacy strategies across the subject areas. (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

About the contributors:

Rebekah Lonon teaches 2nd-grade for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina

Karen Wood is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

 

Jigsaw and Graffiti Wall

by Lindsay Merritt with Karen Wood and Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This is the second in a three-part series exploring conversation and collaboration opportunities. Lindsay Merritt describes, in the post below, how she uses jigsaw and a graffiti wall to promote academic discussions in her classes.

Lindsay writes:

In my classroom, I use the jigsaw strategy to help my students “own” their work and their learning.  I started to use jigsaw (e.g., Aronson, 2000) because I found that often when I presented a lesson students looked at me blankly because they were overwhelmed by too much teacher talk, or my directions were not clear. When I began using the jigsaw process, students become the “experts” in their topics, and had the opportunity to share, discuss, and collaborate with their classmates.  My role became one of planning, monitoring, guiding instruction, and having the pleasure of seeing first-hand the “ah ha” moments of my students’ learning.

My class has been studying Africa through our social studies curriculum.  We are learning that Africa is not a country, but a continent made up of many different countries and cultures.  I could not think of a better way to share this information than through the jigsaw strategy. Students worked in five groups, one for each of the regions of Africa (east, south, north, west, and central).  Their job was to look through the informational text, Hands on Africa (Merrill, 2000) and become experts on their region’s culture, location, geography, and countries within.  As they worked I was able to hear them reading together, discussing, and then writing in-depth sentences focusing on these key areas.  Every student was engaged and participating. This process afforded me a perfect opportunity to continually assess their learning.

I then selected one student from each region to form a larger group to share their information.  Students made sure to present their information clearly so that their classmates could understand.  The students took their “expert” roles seriously and even started making connections among the regions. Once they finished sharing they went back to their home groups to create a visual display of their readings to put on the Africa graffiti wall.   When they wall display was ready, the students had five minutes to view the wall and write down any new information or connections they could make to the information we were learning in the unit.  I was thrilled to see my students so excited about the learning process and truly taking ownership for their learning.

In this video, Lindsay describes the jigsaw and graffiti wall approach:

Digital tools we have used to build on jigsaw and graffiti wall approaches include:

Voicethread

Padlet

Diigo 

Bibliography:

Aronson, E. (2000, May/June). Nobody left to hate. The Humanist, 60(3), 17-21.

Merrill, Y. Y. (2000). Hands on Africa: Art activities for all ages. Salt Lake City, UT: Kits Publishing.

Wolsey, T.D., Wood, K., & Lapp, D. (in press). Conversation, collaboration, and the Common Core: Strategies for learning together. IRA e-ssentials series: What’s New?Newark, DE :International Reading Association.

About the contributors:

Lindsay Merritt teaches 3rd-grade at Hope Academy in  Cabarrus County, North Carolina

Karen Wood is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

 

 

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