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Integrating Technology and Literacy

Integrating Technology and Literacy

11 March, 2016

When teaching with digital natives in a digital world, one question facing many educators circulates around incorporating technology to help facilitate learning:

How do you work technology into the pedagogy, instead of just using something cool?

That task can be especially daunting in language arts literacy classrooms where reading and writing skill development is the crux of daily lessons. However, as 1:1 technology initiatives roll out, integrating technology into the classroom is our reality.

There are hundreds of sites, apps, Chrome extensions, and platforms that are available making selecting the right ones can seem overwhelming. The following are four tools that can help give immediate formative assessment data as well as top-of-the-rotation feedback to help students develop personal learning goals.

If, you’re in a “Chromebook District,” these recommended tools will work well because all integrate perfectly when you sign in with your Google ID, limiting the need for multiple passwords. This saves a lot of student confusion, too.

  1. Online Annotations via Scrible

Annotating texts is an evidence-based literacy strategy to help students understand and navigate complicated texts, and a large part of my district’s school wide literacy initiative.

Highlights and benefits:

Students can work collaboratively on the same file.

Students and teachers can share annotations with each other.

Teachers can utilize annotations as formative assessment and comment back to students, enabling for immediate feedback.

Users can share annotations online via Facebook or Twitter.

With the sharing option, teachers can share any in-class modeling with students who were absent.

Annotating digitally lets for greater student choice as students find their own online texts.

There is a Google Chrome extension that you can add to your toolbar.

  1. Video Annotations via VideoAnt

Digital literacy and using video as “texts” can create a numerous issues for students who don’t take effective notes. Developed by the University of Minnesota, VideoAnt allows users to annotate videos and save them to their own virtual “ant farm.”

The advantages:

Users can timestamp important parts of a video, allowing for easy access later.

Users can type notes with the timestamp, creating a quasi two-column note-taking tool.

Users can share video annotations with others.

  1. Feedback via Kaizena Shortcut

Formerly known as Kaizena mini, Kaizena Shortcut is a Google extension that allows teachers to provide actionable, detailed feedback in a streamlined fashion. Typing out feedback in Google Docs comments boxes can get cumbersome. Even restricting feedback to three or four items takes time. Also, what happens when you need to address grammar errors? With Kaizena, teachers and students can:

Provide feedback in the form of typed comments.

Record comments verbally so that students can hear their teacher’s voice on playback.

Insert links to grammar lessons.

The last bullet point is clutch for teachers who are tired of providing feedback about the same grammar errors over and over.

  1. Formative Assessments via EDPuzzle

Teachers of language arts and all content areas try to differentiate learning to reach a varied group of learners by using video clips. But how do you know if students are really focusing and engaging in active learning during videos? EDPuzzle aids in collecting formative data that can drive instruction.

Users simply register for an account and then create classes. Each class gets its own code that students use for joining. Teachers can search and upload videos from YouTube, TED-Ed, Vimeo, KhanAcademy, and other sites. Then you make a lesson by embedding questions in the video that provides immediate formative data and allows you to check for understanding. Questions can be multiple-choice or open-ended.

While there are hundreds of technology tools out there to help language arts teachers, these four have helped me enhance the use of formative data and feedback to further student achievement in a diverse and differentiated classroom.