I recently read a really fascinating article in The Reading Teacher called “Literacy Instruction With Digital and Media Technologies” by Diane Barone and Todd Wright that discussed how blended classrooms can engage our students (you’ll need to be a member of The Reading Teacher in order to read it). In the article, the authors cite 3 key ideas that teachers must remember:
“1. Simply using software programs on computers does not prepare students for new literacies’ expectations.
2. New literacies are deictic in that they constantly change and require teachers to embrace these changes.
3. New literacies are essential in classrooms so that equal opportunities are offered to all students.”
Just after I read the article, I cotaught a lesson with the library/media specialist in the computer lab. During this lesson, she wanted the students to locate information on World Book Online in order to answer questions. About half way through the period, she came over to me and asked, “Why do all the students think they can type the whole question into search box instead of the key words?” That basic question reminded me that simply using technology is not enough to develop literacy skills. The students need direct instruction, modeling, and support strategies for identifying key words, selecting a search result, and skimming the text. The lesson had a decent foundation, but our implementation needed improvement.
What was even more striking to me was that fact that we had just finished a key word search unit in connection with our science fair research. Just like every other skill the students learn in school, once is not enough. We need to teach, reteach, confer, model, and repeat until new literacy skills become second nature to the students.
It will take a lot of work—but I’m excited for the direction we’re heading in. Now if only I could teach in a one-to-one laptop classroom like the teacher in the article and the Floydada Independent School District do!