Using Digital & Media Technologies To Enhance Literacy Engagement

Barone and Wright (2008) explore the experiences of using new literacies at Nevada elementary school. Teacher and author, Todd Wright shares how he incorporates digital and media technology practices into everyday literacy activities to support student engagement and learning. He discovered that students come to appreciate computers as a learning tool, and they reaslised “…that there was more to a computer than games or chatting and gained practice in reading for a variety of purposes, such as interpreting the textual and visual elements in a document and knowing how to navigate and find information.” [Barone, D. & Wright, T. E., 2008]. The following activities are successful examples of embedding digital learning into classroom literacy practices:

  1.  Graphic Organisers
    Technology based graphic organisers are used to support students’ with engagement and comprehension of a text. Barone and Wright (2008) present three uses for graphic organisers, all used to achieve different purposes, depending on the focus of the lesson. For example, students use a timeline graphic organiser to scaffold their learning around sequencing events in a story. During reading, opportunities are provided for students to pause, discuss and add the information to their graphic organiser. Venn Diagrams can be used to flesh out character descriptions, and compare character traits, thus supporting deeper, more meaningful engagement with the text. Finally, Wright (2008) uses graphic organisers as a homework task, where students are asked to fill in the graphic organiser with information from a webpage. This develops students new skills across new literacies, such as “… using Internet links and graphics” (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008).
  2. Instant Messaging (IM)
    Wright (2008) uses IM in a “pair-share” (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008) format for students to share thoughts and ask questions to their peers. The use of instant IM during literacy instruction supports a dialogic pedagogy, where students can engage in substantive communication through online discussion. The significance of IM is that it supports deeper, meaningful engagement with the text (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008, as students are encouraged to share their own ideas and opinions when responding to a text, or other peer’s comments. Students are often familiar with IM through popular instant messenger applications  e.g. Facebook, MSN Chat, and the speed and fluency in which they engage with this on a social/personal level has obvious applications for academic engagement.
  3. Writing Fix
    This web-based program supports students develop successful writing traits, through interactive prompts. In the example of Barone and Wright (2008), Wright asks students to write a response to: “Have you or anyone you’ve known ever had an imaginary friend? Knowing that students need support with their writing, they access, which prompts them to consider their imaginary friend’s “color, size, and amazing features” (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008). This writing support enables students to independently complete a first draft. The website grants student a level of autonomy that allows them to successfully complete work, and enables the teacher to offer support to students who may need more direct scaffolding or instruction.

Barone, D., & Wright, T. E. (2008). Literacy instruction with digital and media technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-302


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