Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard: Transforming Literacy Instruction and Student Learning

Academic journal article New England Reading Association Journal

iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard: Transforming Literacy Instruction and Student Learning

Article excerpt

As society continues to advance, the demand for digital technologies in the classroom increases (Saine & Kara-Soteriou, 2010). In order to accommodate this changing need, iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard have made their way into some classrooms across the globe. These tools are transforming literacy instruction and the way students are learning. Teachers claim when students are engaged in digital literacy activities, the students see these tools as exciting and unique, but often not as schoolwork. Teachers also claim students become more creative in their thinking. For example, Tricia, a language arts teacher, noticed the deep and creative thinking of her students as they used the app, Toontastic, to created story elements for their animated stories. On the other hand, researchers wonder why more classrooms over the last three decades havenit changed their curriculum and instruction to adopt the available digital technologies (Abadiano Oc Turner, 2007; Hew & Brush, 2007; Wepner et al., 2007).

For some teachers, these tools have become a natural part of the daily classroom instruction. That's what I discovered when I interviewed four teachers from diverse classroom settings, one Nigerian classroom teacher and three American teachers [elementary, middle, and high school]. I asked them to tell me how they made the most of digital technologies and how it has transformed their teaching and student learning in literacy. In this paper, I will share how these teachers have incorporated iPods, iPads, and the SMARTBoard into their instructional activities.

Podcasting country projects

Pagia George is a first grade teacher at the American International School of Lagos in Nigeria, West Africa who incorporates iPods into her social studies instructional activities. The iPods nanos are inexpensive, compared to classroom laptop carts or computers on wheels [COW], and their portability and durability provide students with learning tools that are equipped to perform a variety of tasks such as podcasting. Digital recording, in particular, is used to assist her students in creating podcast of their country projects. In the next section, Pagia will describe how she integrated iPods into instruction.

Focus of the lesson

* Deepening the knowledge of the culture of others

* Using Internet and reading informational text

* Writing expository stories and acrostic poems

* Researching country information

Technology used

* iPod nanos

* Podcasting

Description of the lesson

The first step was for each student to complete a homework assignment requiring them to self-select three countries they were interested in learning about [keeping in mind they have heard of many countries from their peers and their own travel experiences]. When they returned to class the next day with the names of countries in which they were interested, I listed all the countries on the board and placed the students' name next to those countries [I tried to give them their first choice but each child researched a country from their top three choices.]

I incorporated the Step up to Writing Program by Maureen Auman for guiding their writing. This program contains research-based, hands-on writing strategies and has helped my students write expository story. After students researched information on the Internet and in books, wrote, revised, and rehearsed their text, they presented them orally to the class.

During the second part of this project, students engaged in writing poetry and podcasting the acrostic poem [see Image 1] they created using information from their expository writing. After they wrote, revised, typed, and rehearsed their poem, they were ready to record them. Students used iPod nanos, a portable digital recorder for producing podcast for our class website [teachers can also choose to use Audacity, a crossplatform digital audio editor and recording application (Audacity, 2010) that can be downloaded for free from Audacity at http://audacity. …

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