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Jill Griebe: Liter-ology 101

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January 27, 2012 03:22 pm


The following is a guest blog submitted by Jill Griebe, the District Literacy Coach for Eminence Independent Schools in Eminence, Kentucky, and a member of the Digital Learning Day Educator Working Group, which provides leadership on the Digital Learning Day toolkits and outreach development for teachers and administrators across the country.

Technology excites and engages students.  To have access to multimedia within the classroom permits students who are from a small rural school district, such as Eminence Independent Schools, to be exposed to the world.   Having new technology in your classroom can also be fun for the teacher.  However, learning how to use it and planning to integrate it into lessons can be a challenge.    

The first step with the staff was to train them on the individual pieces of technology.  As stated by a Chinese proverb, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”  Eminence teachers were provided with many new technology tools, including a ceiling-mounted LCD projector, an airliner, and a Turning Point clicker system.  The teachers were struggling to learn the basics of these tools and how to integrate them into their lessons.  The Literacy Team subsequently examined the technology use in the building and found that teachers possessed varying levels of knowledge.

The team decided to train the staff in a professional development experience with break-out sessions during the summer.  The purpose was to accommodate the teachers’ requests for learning as indicated by survey results.   The team created three one-hour small group technology trainings, which included sessions focused on creating Animoto videos and wikis along with using the airliner, document camera, and clicker system.  Facilitators for the professional development included Literacy Team members because of their expertise with that particular technology.  Each facilitator created a lesson, an example of how the technology looked in the classroom, and a handout for future reference.  The day itself was very productive because the teachers were engaged and received the necessary hands-on learning.

The second step was to show teachers how literacy and technology fit together.  After four years of participating in the Striving Readers federal grant, the teachers had a solid literacy foundation.  Now it was time to blend the strategies with the technology tools through a series of professional development meetings with the teachers.   The literacy sub-domains included writing to learn, writing to demonstrate learning, writing to publish, academic dialogue, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.  Any type of technology project assigned to a student should include at least one of the sub-domains if not multiple ones.  For example, students can create videos through an assortment of multimedia, such as Animoto, Voicethreads, Windows Movie Maker, Photostory, digital storytelling, Flipshare, and comic strips.  Before the product can be created, students should storyboard the process identifying the video clips or photos that are to be used as well as writing the script.  The script may be typed within the video or recorded, reflecting fluency.  Any writing used in the plan is considered writing to learn.  If students work in groups and have structured conversations, academic dialogue is used.  Content area vocabulary may also be required in the project.  Comprehension of the content will be evident within the project and should reflect subject comprehension.

In the teachers’ lesson plans, they are extremely mindful of the literacy strategies available to connect content with technology at higher levels.  The success is evident in a variety ways, such as the ability of the students to work independently or collaboratively.  In addition, teachers are able to make choices about using literacy strategies that will benefit their technology assignments.  Success is monitored by using a technology walkthrough tool that allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of the technology, the combining of the literacy strategies with the technologies, and the engagement levels of the students.

To learn more about Digital Learning Day, which is February 1, 2012, visit the Digital Learning Day website.

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