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Using Technology to Support Content Literacy in a Bilingual 4th grade Classroom . Dr. Rita Moore, Willamette University Neil Cantrall, 4 th grade teacher, Swegle Elementary Jessica Lieuallen, Student Teacher, Willamette University. ORATE Conference Focus Question.
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Dr. Rita Moore, Willamette University
Neil Cantrall, 4th grade teacher,
Jessica Lieuallen, Student Teacher,
How do we model effective instructional practices grounded in current research and policy in our teacher education programs?
18 Apple iPads (tablets), ear buds, and applications were purchased with a grant funded through Willamette University
These are on loan to Swegle Elementary School to use in Neil’s classroom until Fall 2012.
Swegle is located in NE Salem. It enrolls approximately 600 K-6 students. The school is 99% free and reduced lunch and completely bilingual.
The iPads project began in Fall 2011 as a collaborative effort between Neil, his practicum student, Jessica, and Rita, a university professor to explore the use of IPads to support reading and writing development of 30 fourth graders in a a bilingual classroom.
We started by introducing applications to the entire class but decided to focus primarily on five case studies this fall expanding the project into the spring of 2012.
The research into technology and multi-modal literacy access by elementary students, particularly those from economically struggling schools is not well explored (Dutro and Collins, 2011).
Further, studies of digital literacies appear to be focused on adolescents indicating a need to include a wider age range as well as a more inclusive study of children, schools and communities (Moje, 2009).
Criteria for selection
-Where they can be accessed
-What made these successful
-What others might be useful
A teacher’s perspective: Neil Cantrall
the document camera and LCD
“My challenge is to take their Spanish skills, maintain and grow them, and use them for increasing English proficiency. The technology can help with this cross pollination.”
“Good thing we started working on getting the iPads synced because we had some technical difficulties. We need to focus on buying apps and finding iBooks that will be great for this class. Students were very excited and took great care of the iPads during use. Students seemed very savvy with iPads. Students asked questions when needed, and it was simple to get the problems solved. Problems included: keyboarding splitting into two (problem was not a problem but actually a feature). Students look forward to using more of the iPads.”
“Neil and I have come up with a plan that uses the apps we have bought. The week of Nov. 28th will be an intensive iPad week.”
Late November: The kids are still very excited about “iPading” and appear to be much more risk taking than when we began in October.
They are much more facile with the applications. The instruction is more organized now that the technology training is taking hold.
We decided to call October-November our “training and experimental” time and choose 5-6 strategic readers to focus on in December through at least February.
We wanted to look closely at writing samples and evaluate them “generously” (Spence, 2010). This gave us a sense of the children’s literacy abilities.
We evaluated a set of samples at the beginning of the project to get a better understanding of student writing strengths and areas of development.
Strong student voice
Willingness to share information
Writing puts emphasis on family life
Grammar, punctuation and spelling in two
Descriptive and figurative language skills
Length—they have more to say as writers
They write about what they know: family, pets, life, clean water, games, the
mall, food. Willing to share information
Organization (beginning, middle, end)
Sentence structure and syntax
Figurative and creative language
Experimenting with various kinds of punctuation
Focusing on five strategic readers that Neil and Jessica identified as children who might benefit the most from extra interaction with the technology.
These children in the spring, will serve as technology experts for whole class group activities with the tablets.
Sentence Builder: Building sentences based on prompts and picture clues.
The students build the sentence and say it aloud.
“Does it make sense?”
Those who are proficient in English and Spanish move up the levels faster. One student jumped 8 levels in her DRA growth since Sept. in Spanish. Her English growth is also rapidly developing.
Hearing the readers, it’s obvious that their interaction with the technology is building semantic and syntactic awareness rapidly.
Vocabulary building in both languages is enhanced: How do you say “mecánico” in English?
Story Builder: Answer the prompts and create a story. The following are the results for the readers.
Story Builder (the application)
Sense of story
Oral presentation skills
Some of the children’s stories (Neil)
The children then wrote the stories they told thus reinforcing written and verbal language skills and strategies.
These applications provide stats on the number of sentences students correctly create, and how many attempts they made. We gather the data on Monday, and then gather the same data on Friday and compare them.
We focused on five selected students. These students are low level readers and are also struggling with English fluency.
We believe the integration of the iPads, with specific literacy-focused applications benefited these students and helped increase their English fluency and ability to correctly create sentences.
Was there a change? (Neil)
Findings from pre and post formal assessment data based on accuracy at first attempt:
More than ever pre service teachers need to know the new forms that literacy is taking and the research-based literacy tools that will support best practices in teaching all students in all communities.
How we would modify the experience to
better introduce technology to the children:
1. Assess the technology skills of the students
2. Develop a 10 day unit on how to use the
technology: a model Teacher Work Sample
3. Establish a “Geek” squad of trained student “tech experts” to assist their peers
4. Introduce each application as a mini lesson
The lack of time for training the children initially was an issue. Our solution is the Technology TWS or a block of classroom time dedicated to training using University resources when possible.
We want to get to the point where the tablets are a part of daily instruction…a tool not so much a curiosity.
Dutro, E. and Collins, K. (2011). A Journey through Nine Decades of NCTE-Published Research in Elementary Literacy. Research in the Teaching of English, 46(2)141-161.
Metiri Group, 2008. Multimodal Learning Through Media: What the Research Says. San Jose, CA: Cisco. http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/Multimodal-Learning-Through-Media.pdf.
Moje, E. (2009). Standpoints: a call for new research on new and multi-literacies. Research in the Teaching of English, 43(348-362.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004, A Framework for 21st Century Learning. Tucson, AZ: Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
Smith, G. & Thorn, S. (2007). Differentiated instruction with technology in K-5 classrooms. Eugene, Oregon: ASCD.
Spence, L. (2010). Generous reading: Seeing students through their writing, Reading Teacher, (63)8, 634-641.
Story and Sentence Builder for iPad v1.6 Application created by Northwest Kinematics, 2010