Preparing Teachers to Teach Writing Using Technology by Kristine E. Pytash, Richard E. Ferdig, Timothy V. Rasinski, et al. , 2013, ETC Press

Thanks to ETC Press and editors Kristine Pytash, Richard Ferdig and Timothy Raskinski, we have a valuable new resource to guide our work integrating technology into writing instruction.

The book is available online and can be downloaded freely at: http://www.etc.cmu.edu/etcpress/content/preparing-teaching-teach-writing-using-technology

Image

I have copied below the description of the book, followed by the table of contents.  I encourage you to download the book and then sample chapters of interest.   Note that there is also a link to supplemental materials for Rish’s Chapter 1, Beach and O’Brian’s Chapter 5, Collet’s Chapter 8, and McIntyre’s Chapter 10.

As we all know, it is expensive and time consuming to develop, edit, and publish professional books.  I applaud the editors and ETC Press for freely offering this resource.  The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.   That is, you are free to share the work, with attribution; you may not use it for commercial purposes (to learn more about this level of use, go to  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/

Book description

Technology is changing not only how people write, but also how they learn to write. These profound changes require teachers to reconsider their pedagogical practices in the teaching of writing. This books shares instructional approaches from experienced teacher educators in the areas of writing, teacher education, and technology. Chapters explore teachers personal experiences with writing and writing instruction, effective pedagogical practices in methods writing courses, and professional development opportunities that effectively integrate technology into the writing classroom and contribute to students’ growth as writers and users of technology. While the chapters in this collection are written to inform practice, they are written from a theoretical and empirical base by research-oriented educators in our field. Each chapter provides a research base for a particular instructional approach, a description of their strategy, and examples from instructional settings that highlight how the pedagogical practice advanced the knowledge of the teachers in the areas of writing instruction and technology.  This collected volume provides as up-to-date understanding of how teachers are prepared to teach writing using technology.

Foreword (David Reinking)

 Preservice Teacher Methods Courses

1.  Exploring Multimodal Composing Processes with Pre-Service Teachers (Ryan M. Rish)

2.  Developing Preservice Teachers for 21st Century Teaching: Inquiry, the Multigenre Research (Carol Wickstrom)

3.  No more index cards! No notebooks! Pulling new paradigms through to practice (Nanci Werner-Burke & Dawna Vanderpool)

4.  Exploring Writing with iPads: Instructional Change for Pre-Service Educators (Joan Rhodes)

In-service Teacher Methods Courses

5.  Fostering Student Writing-to-Learn through App Affordances (Richard Beach & David O’Brien)

6.  Virtual worlds, videogames and writing instruction: Exploring games-based writing practices across content areas (Hannah Gerber & Debra Price)

7.  Engaging Teachers in Digital Products and Processes: Interview Feature Articles (Susan D. Martin & Sherry Dismuke)

Working with Teachers in the K-12 Setting

8.  Helping teachers make the shift: Professional development for renovated writing instruction (Vicki S. Collet)

9.  Teaching Long-Term English Learners to Write in Content Areas: The Application of Dynamic and Supportive Instruction (Nancy Akhavan)

10.  Technology and Writing Instruction: Three Cases in a Title I Elementary School (Beverly McIntyre)

Beyond Professional Development

11.  Write, Respond, Repeat: A Model for Teachers’ Professional Writing Groups in a Digital Age (Troy Hicks, Erin Busch-Grabmeyer, Jeremy Hyler, & Amanda Smoker)

12.  Comic life + writing = motivated student writers: Incorporating visual graphics to teach writing (Lynda Valerie & Farough Abed)

Composition Coursework

13.  Errors and expectations in the electronic era (Jesse Kavadlo)

14.  E-feedback focused on students’ discussion to guide collaborative writing in online learning environments (Teresa Guasch, Anna Espasa & Paul A. Kirschner)

15.  Writing with Wikipedia: Building ethos through collaborative academic research (Frances Di Lauro & Angela M. Shetler)

Conclusion

16.  Assessing the impact of technology on preparing teachers to teach writing using technology (Kristine E. Pytash, Richard E. Ferdig, & Timothy V. Rasinski)

Exploring Multimodal Composition and Digital Writing

In addition to the free ETS Press volume on writing and technology, Ferdig and Pytash have also recently published an edited volume, Exploring Multimodal Composition and Digital Writing.

http://www.igi-global.com/book/exploring-multimodal-composition-digital-writing/75468.

As a contributing author, I just received my hard copy of this handbook and am looking forward to exploring the various chapters in depth (and especially the chapters written by my Literacy Beat colleagues Jill Castek and Dana Grisham!).  The book is quite comprehensive and should be an important resource for the field.  Topics include:

  • Collaborative writing tools
  • Digital Assessment
  • Digital Media
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Multimodal Writing
  • Online Writing Communities
  • Technology-Facilitated Revision
  • Writing Processes

There is so much to learn about technology, media, and literacy, that I feel rather overwhelmed at times (actually, more times than I care to admit!).  I appreciate the opportunity to learn from the authors represented in these two books, one of which is freely downloadable, and know I will find support for my quest to become a creative and thoughtful multimodal composer and teacher.  I hope you find these books useful to you on your journey and welcome response and comments about your work.    BD

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Web-Watch: The Balanced Literacy Diet

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

This week, I share a website I recently discovered while visiting with a colleague from the University of Toronto. The Balanced Literacy Diet website takes an innovative approach to supporting teachers, parents, administrators, and teacher-educators in preventing literacy failure. The Balanced Literacy Diet approach uses a familiar metaphor to address the complex nature of teaching literacy: the food pyramid. On this site, the food pyramid is transformed into a reading pyramid and a writing pyramid. Fifteen essential “food” groups form the foundation of the literacy diet.

Reading Pyramid

Literacy Diet Reading Pyramid

The food groups include topics such as motivation to read, writing processes, and text structures, for example. View a full list by clicking here. Teachers can then use the recipe finder to locate activities and explanations built on the food groups. For example, one recipe for fourth grade addresses the food group, “Real Writing: Text Structures” through a math lesson (see figure 2, below). The recipe includes an activity objective, four images of student work products, a video with a teacher explaining the recipe, and a transcript of the video. Links to other recipes by the featured teacher are included. Each video is concise and just long enough to keep the viewer engaged. The math literacy lesson video is just one minute, twenty-three seconds in length.

math & literacy

Math and Literacy Recipe

Another innovative feature of the site is the virtual classroom tour option. The virtual classroom tours are interactive; that is, the viewer controls what to look at in the classroom and can point to features which then pop-up a description and additional video describing what is on the screen. I recommend using Chrome or Firefox rather than Internet Explorer at this time; Internet Explorer 10 appears to limit what you can do on the website.

The Literacy Diet website is a project of the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment. A key tool in the Institute’s arsenal rests on the idea that improved literacy for students translates to a more peaceful and less violent society overall. Please take a moment to read about the Institute. The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto hosts the site. You may want to grab a soda and snack before you visit the Literacy Diet site—once you start reading, viewing, and touring the recipes for literacy success, you may spend more time than you planned getting to know the innovative teachers on this interactive and useful site. Teacher educators will find all kinds of useful examples for the teachers-to-be-with whom they work. Excellent ideas gathered by grade/age, stage of literacy development, and food group will inspire new ideas for teachers, parents, and administrators.

Generative Technology: Teacher Candidate Examples

by Dana Grisham

In my last post, on March 2, 2013, I talked about a project that my colleague, Linda Smetana, and I did with teacher candidates who were asked to integrate technology into literacy lessons they were doing in their assignments in schools. Linda and I refer to this as “generative technology” and feel that when students create something as a result of using technology, there is a positive synergy about it. The teacher candidates benefit from learning to use technology in their teaching and their K-12 students benefit from creating something academic with the tools they are offered.

Linda and I believe that “generative” technology needs to be infused into teacher preparation. Technology in teacher preparation tends to be “silo-ed” in the programs where we teach.  By generative technology, we mean that the technology is embedded in the content of the course in teaching methods, rather than something “added on.” In my March 2013 post, I talked at length about the assignment that was generated and promised to share the products in my next post. So, here are a couple of the products that resulted from our generative technology assignment. Remember that there were 21 teacher candidates in the fifth quarter of a seven-quarter post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program; 17 of the candidates were simultaneously completing their masters degree in education while 18 of the 21 participants were earning their education specialist and multiple subject (elementary) credentials.

First, teacher candidates showed a great deal of diversity in the choices they made about the technology they infused into their projects. The actual projects that candidates chose are listed below (all names are pseudonyms).

Simone

High School

Mixed general education English class includes

Sped, at risk, low performing

Intern

Using Voki to create avatars who read student created papers

Nita and Lila

Elementary

RSP & intervention 4th & 5th graders

Interns

Shared teaching position

Class Writing Blog where student progress was chronicled

Avram

Middle School

RSP & intervention

Intern

Writing Website created by the Flamingo Writers; weebly.com

Lani and Ed

Middle School

RSP & Instructional Support, history

Student teachers

Election Brochure using

MyBrochureMaker

Alicia

Early primary

Special education self contained class

Intern

Storybird for creating books with repetitive text incorporating sight words

Elana

Primary

Special education, self contained class

Intern

Prezi for zoo-phonics lessons

Joanne

Upper elementary

Special education, self contained class

Intern

Toontastic as a vehicle for Story Writing using the iPad.

Callum

Middle School

Communication and Social Skills class

Intern

Toontastic as a vehicle for Story Writing using the iPad

Lianne and Jerri

Elementary

Resource

Student teachers

Comic Creator to create a class book of prepositions; iPod to record student’ reading of authored page; student videos

Jake

Middle School

Resource

Student teacher

Using Glogster, students created presentations of specific historical events

Monte

Middle School

Resource & Intervention History class

Intern

Using Glogster, students created

presentations of inventions

Joleen

Elementary

Language enriched special education self contained class

Student teacher

Comic Creator to create simple stories

Tina

Elementary

Special education self contained class

Intern

Storybird to create stories – social skills and sharing

Miles

High School

SPED class for students with Emotional Disturbance

Intern

Began with Prezi and changed to ppt because of site technology resources; Students isolated the elements of the novel ‘the necklace’ located images on the web that reflect essence of event

Larry

Elementary

Special Education self contained class

Intern

Strip Generator, student created panels regarding sharing. Luke’s presentation to the class was through Prezi.

Serena

Middle School

Resource Specialist Program

Student teacher

Storybird to create stories; illustrate stories from gallery pictures

Janet

Elementary

Special Education self contained class

Student teacher

Using Xtranormal, a text to movie website; students created short films reflecting narrative story structure with their own scripts using text-to speech technology.

Callista

Elementary

Resource Specialist Program

Intern

VoiceThread; understanding literal and figurative meaning of idioms

I’d like to share just a couple of examples with you.

In the first example, low track high school students in tenth grade learned to create avatars using VOKI (http://www.voki.com/). Simone, their teacher, planned a series of lessons for the students to write a descriptive paragraph incorporating at least four adjectives and one metaphor after reading the poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes and highlighting the staircase metaphor. After writing their paragraphs, students audio-recorded them and the VOKI avatars voiced the paragraphs for the entire class. Simone stressed in her reflection that students had discovered “the power of their voices” and were incredibly motivated by the project.  She stated, “I was happy to learn more about my students—because they were more motivated to complete the assignment, they were participating more in the activities as well, and I got a great insight into both their comprehension and writing levels.” She also recounted one of the “greatest successes” was with a male student who became more engaged and active when he realized “he could become his character.”

Another example is the Flamingo Writers Workshop, which comes from the middle school level.  The teacher, Avram, developed the Flamingo Writers Workshop, a pullout group of behaviorally and academically challenged English Learners, all boys. The project lasted several weeks and Avram stated that they “stayed completely engaged” with it. The students created a website after receiving instruction in both writing and in using technology on Weebly (http://www.weebly.com/).  Avram stated, “I wanted to give them something that they could remember for years to come.” One of the interesting aspects of this project was the parallel he drew and emphasized throughout the lessons, between writing as a process—as represented by the POWER acronym (Prewriting, Organizing, Writing, Editing, and Revising) and the “steps” for creating the website: Plan, Design, Create, Register, Inspect, and Publish.  He stated, “Technology made everything we did more engaging to the students.” Avram, an admitted “technophobe” changed his views substantially, stating that the assignment “has certainly helped me understand that students need the enrichment and engagement that technology can provide.”  He related that the website and the writing posted there gave these students an identity as a community that they have continued into other spaces. You can explore the Flamingo Writers Workshop (which continues to function as of this date) at http://flamingowritersworkshop.weebly.com/.

The first page of the website looks like this (and it is truly interactive):
Flamingo
Students worked really hard to make an interactive website that reflected their needs and identities. The next page defines writing:
Why I should care
Finally, here is an example of expository writing (and there are examples for narrative writing also):
Expository

The final example comes from the elementary level and was unique because it is the only project submitted that was not generative in the sense that students did not create anything, but from the report they were certainly the benificiaries.

Elana was working at the second and third grade level in a Special Day Class setting. She chose Prezi (http://prezi.com) for lessons in phonemic awareness and phonics—chosen as presentation software that is “interesting to my students, but not too distracting.” She stated that Prezi allowed her to “take something my students have been working on since Kindergarten and make it new and exciting.” She scanned the “Zoo Phonics” (http://www.zoo-phonics.com/) picture cards into the computer and inserted them into the Prezi. She then projected the Prezi onto the whiteboard and the students did the body movements and chanted the alphabetic sounds. Later Elana plans to add sight words to the Prezi. For the students, here was a more engaging and multimodal way of learning “the same old thing.”  Here is an example of one of the cue cards:

Catina

           Linda and I believe that for all educators there is an urgent need to embrace technological tools for communication and composition in our homes and schools. There are examples everywhere of sound technology use in schools as well as the examples we have provided here (Google sites, for example). Teacher candidates need practical experience in using new tools in academic settings. Grisham and Wolsey (2012) have highlighted the fear factor that even technologically adept teacher candidates have until they gain experience applying new tools as teaching and learning opportunities for themselves and for their K-12 students.  In teacher preparation programs, candidates can collaborate to support each other as they work with these 21st century tools. As teacher educators we are committed to articulate the use of 21st century technology for teaching and student learning across program courses so that teacher candidates may have multiple opportunities to practice and develop the skills to implement technology-rich instruction in their classrooms. We would like to stress that while ours is not the only way to meaningfully integrate technology into teacher preparation courses, we would argue that it is one effective way to do so and we invite readers to try this for themselves.

           In closing, I’d like to once again share the TPACK model that guided our students in their integration of technology and literacy.  Another of our LiteracyBeat authors, Bridget Dalton, has shared this with teachers everywhere in her 2013 column in The Reading Teacher.

TPACK

References:

Grisham, D. L. & Smetana, L. (in press). Multimodal Composition for teacher candidates: Models for K-12 classroom writing instruction. In R. Ferdig & K. Pytash (Eds.), Exploring multimodal composition and digital writing. Hershey, PA: I-G-I Global.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge . Teachers College Record 108 (6), 1017-1054.

Wolsey, T.D. & Grisham, D. L. (2012). Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age: Techniques for Grades 5-12. New York: Guilford.

Webinars: Professional Development Across a Global Community of Learners

A post from Bernadette

Webinars and online interactive podcasts provide opportunities for professional development that is convenient and participatory. A key feature of webinars is the ability to cross time and space and to interact synchronously with key researchers and scholars in literacy in real time seminars. Participants can ask questions, make comments, and interact with colleagues in a global community of learners. In this blog post I want to draw attention to some of my favourite webinars and online podcasts.

I have been following the interpretation and implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the U.S. with great interest. Text Project, under the expert guidance of Elfrieda (Freddy) Hiebert, has been running a series of really useful and informative webinars on the core goals of the CCSS featuring speakers who served in an advisory capacity for drawing up the CCSS. For example, Professor P. David Pearson provided a very enlightening webinar entitled Research and the Common Core: Can the Romance Survive? where he discussed the research underpinning the CCSS with particular reference to comprehension. He provided a very illuminating critique of the interpretation and implementation of the CCSS. You can also view the archived webinars asynchronously on the Text Project You Tube channel . Other archived webinars include Dr. Timothy Shanahan on CCSS and Education. Upcoming events on the webinar series include eminent scholars and researchers such as, Dr. Karen Wixson, University of Michigan on Key Shifts in Assessment and Instruction Related to CCSS-ELA (24th of April, 2013); and Dr. Nell Duke on Informational Text and the CCSS: Pitfalls and Potential (30th of May, 2013). You can register for these webinars on the Text Project website.

The International Reading Association (IRA) has also conducted a series of webinars on Staying Ahead of the CCSS. Members can access the archive of these seminars for a modest rate on the IRA website.

Another series of webinars which I follow are the Global Conversations in Literacy Research (GCLR). Past webinars have included eminent scholars, from across the globe, on a diverse range of issues pertaining to literacy and have included Dr. James Paul Gee, Dr. Allen Luke, and Dr. Julia Davies. An upcoming webinar features Dr. Patrick Shannon (April 14th, 2013) on A Closer Reading of the Common Core: Reading Wide Awake looks particularly interesting. The GCLR team hope to begin archiving these webinars in the coming months.

Finally, I really enjoy the biweekly podcasts on the Voice of Literacy where Dr. Betsy Baker interviews researchers about recently published research in Tier 1 journals such as, Reading Research Quarterly (RRQ) or Journal of Literacy Research (JLR). These podcasts provide an opportunity to listen to a researcher flesh out their research findings in discussion with Betsy. The Voice of Literacy site provides a comments section where listeners/ readers can pose questions or provide commentary on the podcast. Our very own Literacy Beat Blogger Bridget Dalton has been featured discussing her research related to utilising digital technologies to support the development of reading comprehension and vocabulary with 5th grade monolingual and bilingual students. I have embedded the link below.

Designing technology to support comprehension among monolingual and bilingual students with Dr. Bridget Dalton

Generative Technology for Teacher Candidates: The Assignment

Generative Technology for Teacher Candidates:  The Assignment

Dana L. Grisham

My friend and colleague, Linda Smetana, and I have been working together since about 2004. She’s a full professor at CSU East Bay (Hayward, CA), from which I retired in 2010. Linda is one of those extraordinary scholars and teacher educators who stays close to her field—she teaches one day per week in a Resource classroom in the West Contra Costa Unified School District—and also works full time at the university, where she specializes in literacy teacher education in both special and general education. Recently, Linda and I have been investigating the intersections of literacy and technology in teacher preparation together and I’d like to share with you a project we just completed and the results of which are going to be published in a book edited by Rich Ferdig and Kristine Pytash, due out later in 2013.

Our belief is that “generative” technology needs to be infused into teacher preparation. Technology in teacher preparation tends to be “silo-ed” in the programs where we teach. Currently, candidates at our university have one technology course, based on the ISTE standards, but bearing relatively little on pedagogy for teaching. By generative technology, we mean that the technology is embedded in the content of the course in teaching methods, rather than something “added on.”

The basic framework that we used for the assignment was the TPACK model (Mishra & Koehler, 2006) that has appeared in this blog before:

TPACK

The TPACK model asks the teacher to look at the content of the lesson, or what we want students to learn, as well as the pedagogy (how best to teach this content), and then at the technological knowledge that might be advanced in the lesson. Where the three elements intersect is known as TPACK or the theoretical foundation and link between technology and praxis. In our courses, we have presented TPACK as the goal for integrating meaningful technology into lesson planning and teaching.

The participants in our recent study consisted of 21 teacher candidates in the fifth quarter of a seven-quarter post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program; 17 of these candidates were simultaneously completing their masters degree in education while 18 of the 21 participants were earning their education specialist and multiple subject (elementary) credentials.

In creating the assignment, we carefully considered the context for teaching of the candidates in the course, structuring the assignment so that all candidates could successfully complete it. Candidates had different levels of access to student populations. Accessibility ranged from 30 minutes a day three days a week, to the full instructional day five days a week.  Teacher candidates also taught different subjects among them: English, History, Writing, Reading, Language Arts, Study Skills, and Social Skills. To insure that teacher candidates considered all aspects of their assignment in their write-ups of the project, Linda provided guidelines for the reflection. Students were responsible for learning to use the tools they chose. Linda collected and we jointly analyzed the data. Findings from the research were uniformly positive. In fact, right now Linda is doing post-research interviews with a couple of the candidates who have really taken to the integration of technology into their teaching.

For the purposes of this post, I would like to share the assignment with you. In my next post I plan to share a couple of the projects. Teacher candidates were provided with guidelines for the technology assignment and provided with a list of potential tools that they might use for the assignment. They learned the TPACK model for planning. Below is the technology assignment from Linda’s syllabus and the list of technology tools (free or very inexpensive) provided for students to investigate. We offer this with complete permission for other teacher educators to use or modify for use in their courses.

The Generative Technology Assignment

The Common Core Standards mandate the use of technology for instruction, student work, and student response.  Students with special needs, especially those with mild moderate disabilities may not have access to technology or their access may be limited to hardware and software that may not be useful to support the learning process.

During the second month of the class, we will have three independent learning sessions.  These sessions are intended to enable you to complete the technology assignment.  This assignment focuses on integrating technology with academic skill development, core content with teacher and student creativity. The focus should be on an aspect of literacy or multiple literacies.

In this assignment you will use technology to develop a set of learning sequences for use with your students.  You may complete this assignment in groups of no more than two individuals one of the technology tools in the syllabus or one that you locate on your own.  If completed in pairs, the finished product must demonstrate increased complexity and include the work of students in both individuals’ classrooms.

Your technology assignment should enhance the learning of your students.  Prepare an introduction to the presentation to educate your viewer.  Think about the content of the presentation, reason for the your selection this medium and/or process.  Share how your presentation meets the needs of your students and reflects their knowledge. The assignment must incorporate student work.  Identify how the students participated in the development and creation of the assignment. 

Prepare a thoughtful reflection of your thoughts on the process and the final product including the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the product and the management of students and content. This reflection should be descriptive and include specific examples. It may be submitted as a word document.

Place your project on a flash drive that may be placed into the classroom computer for projection.  Use your student work of materials from the web, interviews, u-tube and anything else that will capture students’ attention. 

Technology Web Resources Provided to Teacher Candidates

VoiceThread http://www.voicethread.com.

Animoto http://www.animoto.com/education

ComicCreator http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/comic/index.html

Edmodo http://www.edmodo.com

Glogster http://www.glogster.com

Prezi http://www.prezi.com

Popplet http://popplet.com

Slidepoint http://www.slidepoint.net

Storybird http://storybird.com

Strip Designer http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/strip-designer/id314780738?mt=8

(iPad app)

Stripcreator http://stripcreator.com

Screencast http://screencast.com

Screencast-o-matic  http://screencast-o-matic.com

Cool Tools for Schools http://wwwcooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/Presentations+Tools

Toontastic http://launchpadtoys.com/toontastic/

In addition to the assignment, teacher candidates were provided with guidelines for reflection, seen below.

Questions to Guide Reflection

What and how did students learn? Include both intentional and unintentional lessons.
What did you learn?
What would you do differently if you were to do this project again?
What were the greatest successes of this project?
How would you improve this project?
What advice would you give a teacher contemplating a similar project?
What kinds of questions did students ask?
Where were students most often confused?
How did you address the needs of different learners in this project?
What resources were most helpful as you planned and implemented this project?

To scaffold teacher candidates application of technology to lesson planning for the project, each one provided Linda with a proposal to which she gave feedback. Each proposal contained the following components: Context, Students, Standards (literacy and NETS•S standards), Technology, Process, and Product.

Every student completed the assignment successfully and their reflections are highly interesting….more to come! In my next post, I will share with you some of the amazing projects that Linda’s teacher candidates produced.

References

Grisham, D. L. & Smetana, L. (in press). Multimodal composition for teacher candidates: Models for K-12 writing instruction. In R. Ferdig & K. Pytash (Eds.). Exploring Multimodal Composition and Digital Writing. Hershey, PA: I-G-I Global.

Mishra, P. & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technologiical Pedagogical Centent Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108, 6, 1017-1054.

Literacy and Technology Special Issue from Research in the Schools

It’s snowing here in Boulder and time for me to catch up on some reading!  Guest edited by Marla Mallette, this special issue from Research in the Schools focuses on ‘Literacy and Social Networking’.

The articles can be accessed online at http://dtm10.cep.msstate.edu/rits_191.htm.

As you can see from the table of contents below, the authors address a broad range of topics, from Diane Barone’s article on young children’s experience with social media and Web 2.0, to Frank Serafini’s piece on reading multimodal texts in the 21st century, to Don Leu and Elena Forzani’s article on Web 2.0 –  now and into the future!  Blaine Smith and I also have an article in this issue about how teachers design Internet-based literacy and learning lessons with Strategy Tutor, a free online authoring tool developed by Cast, Inc. (www.cast.org).

Enjoy reading and please post a comment, question, or related resource.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

In the latest issue: Spring, 2012, Volume 19(1)
(Special Issue on Literacy and Social Networking)

Mallette, M. H., & Mthethwa, P. M. (2012). Guest editorial: Web 2.0 and literacy: Enacting a vision, imagining the possibilities. 19(1), i-iv.

Barone, D. M. (2012). Exploring home and school involvement of young children with Web 2.0 and social media. 19(1), 1-11.

Dalton, B., & Smith, B. E. (2012). Teachers as designers: Multimodal immersion and strategic reading on the internet. 19(1), 12-25.

Serafini. F. (2012). Reading multimodal texts in the 21st century. 19(1), 26-32.

Alvermann, D. E., Hutchins, R. J., & McDevitt, R. (2012). Adolescents’ engagement with Web 2.0 and social media: Research, theory, and practice. 19(1), 33-44.

Beach, R. (2012). Uses of digital tools and literacies in the English language arts classroom. 19(1), 45-59.

Karchmer-Klein, R., & Shina, V. H. (2012). 21st century literacies in teacher education: Investigating multimodal texts in the context of an online graduate-level literacy and technology course. 19(1), 60-74.

Leu, D. J., & Forzani, E. (2012). Discussion, new literacies in a Web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, …, [infinity] world. 19(1), 75-81.

Let the Reader Beware: Evaluating Digital Books

This week’s post is a guest presentation by Elizabeth Dobler from Emporia State University. Beth has been working in an area that looms large for all educators: evaluating digital books for use in the classroom. Beth has put together a rubric which I believe teachers everywhere will find useful for these essential evaluations. As a teacher educator, I am planning to use the rubric with my master’s level practicing teachers and I beiieve that teacher preparation programs need a useful tool like this for teacher candidates to learn about and use. It is with a great deal of pleasure that I offer Beth’s post on LiteracyBeat. DLG

Let the Reader Beware: Evaluating Digital Books

Elizabeth Dobler

Three things happened to me in the same month that led to my interest in the topic of digital books.  I received an iPad from my university, I began teaching a children’s literature course, and I watched first grade children create their own digital books.  So now, during the winter evenings, instead of watching television or crocheting, I am searching Amazon, the iBookstore, and Barnes and Noble for quality digital books for children that I can recommend to preservice and inservice teachers.

Through my perusal of many digital books, I have reached two conclusions.  First, digital books, or ebooks, have the potential to let readers interact with the book in amazing ways, which can be both motivating and distracting. Many digital books integrate multimedia elements, including text, images, music, sound effects, and narration. In Axel the Truck, published by Harpers Collins, this book for beginning readers provides simple text, colorful images, intro music, and truck sound effects. The reader may choose the narration feature or to read the book themselves.   A reader’s interactive finger tap or swipe can move objects or cause characters to speak. In the app book The Monster at the End of This Book, the beloved Muppet, Grover invites readers to tickle his tummy, upon which he giggles. Some digital books provide ways for readers to become part of the story, such as the app book Cinderella: A 3-D Fairy Tale, which uses  the camera feature of the iPad to place the reader’s own face in a mirror above the mantle.

When teachers, library media specialists, and caregivers choose digital books to use with children, care should be given to selecting books with multimedia elements that deepen the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the story, rather than distract from the meaning of the text. A study by the Cooney Center at Sesame Street Workshop, entitled “Print Books vs. E-Books” (Chiong, Ree, & Takeuchi, 2012), looked at the interactions between parents and their children when reading digital books and found that the enhanced digital book (one with multimedia elements) promotes discussion related to the digital design rather than the content of the book. Does this shift from a focus on the story mean we shouldn’t read ebooks with children? Absolutely not! Children need to experience lots of different genres and formats of books, both print and digital, to prepare them for the wide variety of reading experiences they will encounter in their future.

The second realization I had during my very unscientific-relaxing-on-the-couch study of digital books for children is the quality of these books varies greatly. With the advent of self-publishing and digital bookstores, the world of children’s literature is experiencing unprecedented change. Today anyone can publish a book and make it available in a digital bookstore. On the one hand, this change is highly motivating for our students, as they can see their ideas and writing come alive in a digital book, and this can be shared with others. On the other hand, because anyone can publish their digital book using relatively easy to use publishing software, the traditional system of checks and balances used to screen publications before putting them into the hands of children no longer applies. Books with inappropriate content or incorrect spelling, grammar, or punctuation are available for little or no cost. The book The Case of the Missing Banana, by Matthew Ryan, has bright illustrations and a simple, yet clever text. It’s also missing capital letters for proper nouns and at the beginning of sentences. The Quirky, Nerdy, and Entirely Original Elementary School Adventures of Derpy Dork by Jack Thomas, appears to be a cruder version of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Kinney, 2007). Lest I paint an unfair picture, many high quality digital publishing companies do exist. Nosy Crow and Callaway Digital Arts are two of my favorites.

Those who teach, love, and care for children must be the gatekeepers, teaching children how to make wise decisions about book selections of all types, and making these selections for children when necessary.  In order to do this effectively, we must be able to identify quality digital books.  I have shared my interest in digital books with fellow educators, and with their help, we created a simple tool for considering the quality of a digital book.  The Digital Book Evaluation Rubric guides teachers to consider the reading options, user friendliness, appropriateness, and polished appearance of a digital book. Please take the tool, use it, and send us feedback.  In fact, the process of evaluating an digital book works really well if you find a comfy spot on the couch, curl up with a blanket, your digital device of choice and enjoy a book or two.

Elizabeth Dobler is a literacy professor at Emporia State University, in Emporia, Kansas. edobler@emporia.edu

References

Chiong, C., Ree, J., Takeuchi, L., (2012). QuickReport: Print Books vs. E-Books. Joan Ganz Cooney Center.   http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/quickreport-print-books-vs-e-books/

Kinney, J. (2007). The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Amulet Books.

Quality Digital Books

Axel the Truck: Rocky Road (Harper Collins) by J. D. Riley, Illustrated by Brandon Dorman. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/axel-the-truck-rocky-road/id472125985?mt=11

Cinderella: A 3-D Fairy Tale (Nosy Crow). https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cinderella-nosy-crow-animated/id457366947?mt=8

The Monster at the End of this Book (Callaway Digital Arts/Sesame Street Workshop) by Jon Stone; Illustated by Mickael Smollin. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monster-at-end-this-book…starring/id409467802?mt=8

Questionable Quality Digital Books

The Case of the Missing Banana by Matthew Ryan. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-case-of-the-missing-banana/id442569924?mt=11

The Quirky, Nerdy, and Entirely Original Elementary School Adventures of Derpy Dork by Jack Thomas. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/quirky-nerdy-entirely-original/id452819761?mt=11

Digital Book Evaluation Rubric

Type of Digital Book (check all that apply):

_____  traditional (print book turned digital)                            _____  gamified (book has embedded game elements)

_____  original (book written for mobile device only)           _____  movie and cartoon inspired

_____  uncertain/unknown

Robust Quality Adequate Quality Limited or Weak Quality
Reading Options Readers can choose options for reading, listening, viewing, or interacting with the text. I can adapt the way I “read” this digital book depending on my reading needs and interests. Or if I cannot choose, I at have several options available (read, view, listen). A limited number of reading options are presented, but the reader has no choice (i.e., audio and text). I can read and listen to this digital book, but cannot choose between one or the other. Reader has no choice of options beyond reading the text and viewing the illustrations. I only have the option of reading this digital book.
User Friendliness Provides various prompts, such as arrows or sounds, for accessing special features (i.e., turning pages, moving objects). Guides the reader towards interaction with the text. I can easily understand how to access all of the bells and whistles available in this digital book. Provides a limited number of prompts for accessing special features.  I can find the special features of this digital book with some exploring. No prompts are provided for accessing special features. The reader must dig to discover the features. I have to search to find the special features of this digital book and even then I may not find them.
Appropriateness The text (vocabulary and ideas) and illustrations are appropriate for the age level of the intended audience.This is an appropriate digital book that I would recommend to the children in my class. One or two questionable elements are present in the words and/or illustrations.  I should provide an explanation prior to sharing this book with my class. The topic, language, and/or illustrations are not appropriate for the age level of the intended audience. I would not share this digital book with my students because it is inappropriate.
Polished Appearance The text has been carefully edited for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  No errors are present. The illustrations are placed near the appropriate text. I can recommend this digital book to my students with an assurance of high quality. One or two small editing errors are present in the entire digital book, and these do not detract from the text. Illustrations are placed close to the appropriate text. I am aware of the miniscule number of editing errors, but feel the value of the digital book provides a balance. Numerous spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors are present in the text. Illustrations are repeatedly not placed near the text. There are so many editing errors in this digital book, I would be not share this with my students.

Created by Elizabeth Dobler and Daniel Donahoo

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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