Beliefs for Integrating Technology into the English Language Arts Classroom We conclude each section with a sampling of related scholarship. .. and personal relationship to issues of gender, race, socioeconomic status. 1 Using ICTs to promote English language Arts learning; 2 Problems Teachers also need to consider the relationship that exists between "readers, Information and communications technology (ICT) provide a variety of. relations between the arts and the development of self-esteem that so may arts art and technology into cooperative projects with others are environments.
While readers and writers can and often do work alone, they also need to be able to work in collaborative settings in order to solve contemporary problems that are often interdisciplinary, ranging from implementing environmental protection to balancing the issues of ethnic diversity to creating fair world trade regulations.
Having these tools and being able to manipulate them in order to generate a full range of ideas and show what can be done with them will constitute the acquisition of this new literacy. Tools expand our cognition, and the current technology industry provides a perpetual stream of new tools daily. In turn, these tools create the need for new skills, flexibility, and a critical eye.
Technology, especially in the form of hypertext, which fosters connections on the Internet, has become an essential medium for this emerging literacy, due to its growing prevalence and importance in our society and our interaction with the rest of the world. In order to reach the fruition of this vision, however, teachers of the English language arts must first realize the complexities of technology and its potential and probable effects on the discipline, literacy, classroom instruction, and the learning process and develop an informed approach to integrating it into their own practice.
As Kaplan pointed out, technology holds much promise for educators as powerful enactments of cognitive and social theories of reading and writing and rich extensions of privilege to those who have been excluded from public discourse. As teachers however, they have an obligation to confront the not-always-benign implications of choices foisted upon them and of choices they themselves initiate.
Considering Technology in the English Language Arts Classroom While technology surely receives more exposure in mathematics and science, it has also affected the manner in which we approach the teaching of the English language arts in innumerable ways.
This application is probably familiar to most teachers at this point. The English teaching community, especially at the K level, is only just beginning to wrestle with the pedagogical complexities inherent in integrating these technologies into writing, language, and literature classrooms.
With no clear sense of effective technology use, teachers often ignore it altogether or resort to exposing students simply to whatever current software is most available, with little instructional support or curricular connection.
As a result, a larger sense of context is often lacking—in other words, the reasons teachers should use technology and how it can be used to advance their existing curricular goals and classroom practices.
In the teaching of the English language arts, the notion of context has always been important, and research has long supported this.
Technology use must have a relevant context, as well, and in terms of using it to teach the English language arts, developing a critical mindset is key for teachers to implement technologies efficiently and effectively. To integrate technologies in a classroom without an understanding of context risks using technologies ineffectively or inappropriately, thus wasting opportunities for new learning experiences and, potentially, vast amounts of money spent on underutilized technological resources.
Examples include entering a computer classroom with high-end, Internet-connected computers being used by a high school English department solely as a typing instruction lab. Upon inquiring further, it was discovered that the faculty neither asked for the lab, nor were they given instruction on ways to integrate such technologies in their teaching of literature and writing. On several occasions we have encountered schools with labs that were underutilized by teachers who had received no training on how to make use of computer-assisted instruction, as well as teachers facing resistance to letting their students use the labs for fear that they would damage the computers.
To avoid situations like these and to create a relevant context for technology integration in the English language arts classroom or methods course, we propose the following strategies working in tandem with one another: Develop a pedagogical framework. Ask the important questions. After implementing the strategies, teachers should try integrating the technology and reflect upon the experience as a way of revisiting and revising the strategies regularly.
A detailed description of each strategy follows. In other words, the power of the pedagogy must drive the technology being implemented, so that instruction, skills, content, or literacy is enhanced in some meaningful way.
Otherwise, the technology itself often becomes the content focus rather than the English language arts. Teachers must avoid the temptation to use technologies without understanding the pedagogical implications of using them. Thus the pedagogical goals take precedence; the technologies are thought of as another means of reaching those goals. A pedagogical framework for developing a critical approach to technology applications. We believe that this is an important distinction; when technology is not tied to an authentic context and purpose, it will likely become a burden for users.
Therefore, when we bring technologies into our English language arts classrooms, we should do so with forethought—we should do so critically, with an explicit understanding of why we want to do it and how it will affect students, instruction, and curricular goals. Figure 1 represents our pedagogical framework for the decision-making process resulting in an informed and effective integration of technology applications into the classroom. This framework can guide teachers in planning their use of technologies.
We developed the framework by defining the issues we consider when we bring technologies into the classroom, by observing other teachers who use technologies, and by engaging others in discussions about problems and challenges they faced when they or their colleagues brought technologies into their existing English language arts contexts.
This understanding includes their conception of English, knowledge of their goals as teachers without the presence of those technologies, an understanding of the social and pedagogical context in which they taught, knowledge of the available technologies, how to interact with them as users and teachers, and an awareness of other issues that affect the teaching in that context. In short, the decisions that good teachers make every day when considering what to do, how to act, and how to run a successful English language arts classroom are made explicit.
This framework is important in two ways. For experienced teachers, those who successfully integrate technologies in their classes and have done so previously, this framework can give form to their thinking processes and help them make future decisions regarding technologies, as well as help justify those decisions to others. For other teachers, those less experienced with technologies, this framework can guide decision-making processes and serve as a professional development tool.
Making these issues visible can also help classroom teachers resist pressure to implement uncritical applications of new technologies and allow them to negotiate for the appropriate time, support, training, and resources they need.
Asking the Important Questions When we begin to think about using technologies in our English classes, it is important to consider our overall goals. As a part of this process, it is important to develop and entertain key questions to decide how, when, and whether to change an activity, lesson, or unit by incorporating technology. According to Richardsa veteran high school English teacher, two affirmative answers to the following questions indicate that a teacher should make the change to implement technology: Will this use of technology enhance the conversation of the classroom?
Will it validate the work of the classroom? Will it validate the individual? Is it worth the time and effort? Drawing on our own experiences and of those from the teachers with whom we work, we also suggest the following questions as a means of inspiring a more critical consideration for those teachers of the English language arts and English educators entertaining the thought of integrating technology: Why do I want to use technologies?
Is the purpose authentic? Do I have an instructional need that is not being currently met that technology might help with? If not, is there an instructional strategy or learning activity that I want to implement that technology might enhance or assist? What are my goals and objectives as a teacher for my students? How can the technologies enhance my ability to reach these goals and objectives? What are my students capable of doing and handling with regard to technology? What are their limitations?
What am I capable of doing? What are my limitations? How can we teach each other, grow together? What technology resources are available for me and for students, and how can they be used? How might issues of access and equity affect our experience? If resources are minimal, how can I maximize them? How can I adapt to limited access to technology tools and resources? Are these consistent with my goals and objectives?
What are the curriculum standards, local, state, and national, which address technology in the English language arts?
How might I fold these into a purposeful use of technology in my classroom? What other issues do I need to consider? What other resources can I draw upon for insights?
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Rather than rely on quantifying the decision to use technology, we suggest teachers use their answers to these questions as a strategy to be proactive in preparing to teach with technology and as a way to flesh out an informed plan for doing it effectively. While Richards point is valid, the reality is that technology is here, more pervasive than ever and proliferating at a furious pace. This fact raises another important consideration in terms of context—our students.
Students are often the first to possess new technologies—if not the tools themselves, then the knowledge and skill involved to use them in strategic ways. They often bring a sense of technological know-how and literacy, which most teachers are not aware of and do not know how to draw upon for instructional purposes. While the levels of development may vary among students, they are on average more savvy and more accustomed to life with technology than their teachers.
Berger explored the effects of storytelling in the transition from print to electronic media, part of which involves a sense of agency in the interactive narratives of computer and video games that could potentially inspire children to read more.
Working Guidelines for Using Technology Effectively In addition to asking key questions, the development of guidelines for using technology effectively is also an important consideration. The first author surveyed students in methods courses over a two-year period to collect perceptions while the second author gathered ideas from teachers during a recent Third Coast Writing Project seminar he facilitated.
Although the list provides important guideposts, it is important for individual teachers to consider this list as a bridge to creating their own guiding principles of technology use based upon their own unique classroom goals, contexts, and students. Thus, this list is intended as a starting point for teachers to consider their goals and to then work towards asking the difficult questions that lead to effective teaching with technology.
Supplement and enhance instruction and, in effect, work almost transparently and seamlessly with content instruction. Provide additional resources and create wider access to them. Expand and enhance the definitions and dimensions of literacy critical, digital, media and otherwise. Facilitate an open forum for discussion that allows for more opportunities for free and democratic participation and dialogue. Replace teachers or pedagogy.
Complicate or supercede content instruction or become the content focus of instruction itself. Limit appropriate resources or access to them. Disrupt or complicate normal classroom community efforts and objectives for addressing audience.
Deepen social, racial, gender, and economic inequalities. Stifle creativity or opportunities for using the imagination or multiple intelligences. Critical Uses of Technology Applications in the English Classroom The following list provides a few examples of teachers who, in our minds, have developed a critical mindset and used an informed approach when making the decision to use technology to teach the English language arts.
They are by no means intended to be exhaustive; instead, they are meant to be indicative of the kind of thoughtful, informed, and critical approach that can yield potentially better results for both teacher and students. Case 1 In the fall ofAllyson Young, a high school English teacher in Charlottesville, Virginia was having difficulty teaching writing with two of her applied level ninth-grade English classes. In addition to her students struggling with fluency and poor writing skills, they posed behavior problems for each other.
A veteran teacher of city schools, Young rarely had problems with classroom management. Even in this situation, the issue was not that her students acted out toward her but with one another. They simply could not get along without verbal and sometimes physical altercations, making group work, especially writing workshop and conferencing nearly impossible.
As a result, she began to look for a way to address this problem beyond simple classroom management techniques and considered technology applications. Through a partnership with the English Education program at the University of Virginia, Young began to use an online portfolio tool with the students in this particular class to facilitate the teaching of writing and enhance the writing process and writing workshop.
In effect, students could compose, share, provide feedback, revise and edit online spread out in the same computer lab without having to sit in groups in close proximity to one another. In addition to completing descriptive writing assignments, they also composed pieces in conjunction with their study of Romeo and Juliet. Young described the effects as such: The focus was now on the writing rather than cutting each other down. My students began to consistently get writing down on paper and complete drafts.
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Fluency was a major problem, but their fluency improved over time with the online feedback they were receiving from their peers. Their drafts not only became longer, but they improved in terms of content and quality too. Gray began to envision computers providing a means for students to illustrate and animate the stories and legends of their ancestors, which they had collected from tribal elders.
Not only have students used the computers to write, illustrate, animate, and publish, but they have also created an archive of cultural artifacts, published an anthology of student work each semester, performed dramas interpreting Lakota legends, composed and sampled electronic music, and filmed and edited digital videos.
Gray and his fellow teachers then applied technology to other core subjects, and his colleagues have continued the initiative Gooden, Case 3 For nearly 20 years, Margo Figgins has included a major research project as a requirement in her Language, Literacy, and Culture methods course in the English Education program at the University of Virginia.
The project originated as a pen-and-paper and then word-processed product. However, the limitations of such tools soon led to redundancy. In addition, only so much time in class could be devoted to student sharing of research. Consequently, Figgins began to consider ways in which technology might address these pedagogical limitations—how to make previous research available to students who could then build upon existing research information and data and how to allow students to communicate and share their process, progress, and research with others in the course as well as with teachers, future students, and the public.
Solving these pedagogical problems became the catalyst for considering technology applications and led to her use of the Q-folio, an online electronic portfolio which, in effect, simulated the interactive research community she desired. Through the use of the tool, students have been able to access and reflect critically upon previous research projects, expand upon them, and ultimately make their own distinct contribution to the course archive.
Case 4 At Penn State University, Jamie Myers encourages traditional uses of technology, like word processing and web research, but he also prepares preservice English teachers to integrate hypermedia authoring of web sites as content-based strategies to teach critical literacy, literary analysis, and language and communications skills.
Through the process of creating hypermedia projects, preservice teachers engage in the analysis and critique of the possible identities, relationships, and values represented by the texts and their possible multiple readings.
This constructivist approach generates the critical literacy activity with texts that is a central content goal of the English language arts curriculum.
In effect, students create relevance by finding many ways to connect and manipulate their rich multimedia lives outside of school within the classroom, and in turn, they gradually begin to discover how the ideas expressed in course readings permeate all the texts of the world.
Using commercially available software such as StorySpace, Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, SoundEdit 16, iMovie, and various web authoring products to create English methods classroom projects, Myers has been integrating hypermedia authoring for critical literacy since Most of the projects originated in conjunction with the reading of literature, a central component of the secondary English classroom, which has helped to facilitate the successful transfer of critical hypermedia authoring to the students and their cooperating mentor teachers in the field experiences Myers has supervised.
Some projects originated in the analysis of media texts and their role in the construction of cultural identities and values. For example, one project requires small groups of students to identify significant themes in a work of literature and then explore how multiple perspectives on those themes through multimedia texts inspire and motivate students.
In effect, the students create websites that forge connections between novels using a thematic approach to raise questions about cultural ideals and beliefs.
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Another project involves the analysis of one literary piece by the entire class as a means of expanding the traditional literature instructional approach of focusing on a single interpretation, one in which the teacher becomes the single arbitrator of correct meaning.
While authors certainly have intentions, meaning is a constructed event that draws from the prior experience, knowledge, and social lives of the readers. These whole class hypermedia websites involve students organizing and juxtaposing texts from their experiences to bear on a central piece of literature.
This activity builds the intertextual context, or cultural schemas, and provides the necessary bridge required to debate potential meanings within the focal text of study. New computer digital technologies provide the teacher and student with tools for experiencing these connections in ways not previously available.
Projects like these help generate relevance for traditional school readings in everyday life experience. In addition to these projects and others involving asynchronous communication about literary texts and analysis of popular culture media, Myers has also initiated the creation of electronic portfolios for English education students as a multiyear, constructive process of authoring a hypermedia website that allows them to explore their developing stances on educational issues and curricular ideas for English instruction.
We have introduced the idea of speaking against images as well as about images using words and music and images in juxtaposition…. Myers, Personal Communication, March For other examples, see the list of additional resources at the end of this article. Conclusion Despite the challenges that effective technology integration poses for educators, there is hope in the powerful suggestions provided by preservice teachers and those teachers who continue their professional development through opportunities like the National Writing Project and its regional and state sites across the country.
As Pope and Golub asserted, it is also important for English educators to model effective practices of teaching with technology. KeiferYoungand Young and Figgins emphasized the potential technology holds for teacher empowerment and school reform when addressed as a part of teacher education. Although technology alone may not be the saving grace of education, there are important ways in which we can use it to support and enhance our teaching practices in the English language arts classroom—the key to which is developing a critical perspective that informs our pedagogical approach.
Kajder characterized this informed perspective as one of making a critical choice: We choose the texts we want our students to enjoy and explore. We choose the challenges and exercises we want them to experience as writers.
Now we need to choose the most efficient tools for our students as learners…. The computer is simply another tool, only to be chosen when it is appropriate. With an informed pedagogical framework in mind, English teachers and English educators can begin to bring focus to this vision by asking the hard questions that lead to the development of guidelines, which in turn, allow us to make the best choices for effective technology applications and create beneficial learning experiences for our students.
Book Adventure has students selecting books they want to read based on their interests, reading the books, and wanting to take quizzes that measure their comprehension. Too good to be true? Immediate rewards and interactive games are just the enticement kids need to get them reading, and this program is putting them to work through the Internet. Take part in one of two recently announced fall writing contests a script writing contest for students in grades and a short story writing contest for students age 13 and up.
Write regularly, write about what you know, imitate writers you admire, don't be afraid of rejection those tips and more from an experienced editor of fiction for young readers! Monsters Made to Order! A unique activity that has students writing descriptive paragraphs, this project is fast becoming an integral part of the language arts curriculum of many classrooms.
What is the best part?
Students get to use their imaginations to design their very own monsters! Comments from teachers across the grades who have seen the educational value in this well-thought-out online project. Use the Web to Enhance the K-2 Reading Curriculum Are you looking for a way to motivate your young readers, involve them in active learning, and help them build language skills all in the same lesson?
Why not use the Web to enhance the reading process? In this Education World story, teacher Hazel Jobe points out some of the best Web sites to use in reading instruction! In interviews, dating, and even social and classroom activities, there is no replacement for expressing oneself well. Clarity of expression comes with a good understanding of the English language.
Many resources are designed to increase students' comprehension of English, whether it is their first or second language, in an enjoyable manner. Through the Internet, you can take advantage of the best of these in your own classroom! Journal Writing Every Day: A Painless Way to Develop Skills One of the best things about daily journal writing is that it can take so many forms.
Teachers can use journal writing to meet specific goals, or the purpose can be wide open. Some teachers check journal writing and work on polishing skills; others use journals as the one "uncorrected" form of writing that students produce. Some teachers provide prompts to help students begin their writing.
Others leave decisions about the direction and flow of student journals up to the students. This week, Education World talked with teachers who use daily journal writing in their classrooms. Writing motivators that work from teachers who use them! Poetry Resources on the Internet You have probably heard the Web compared to a virtual library.