As a 7th grade ELA teacher, I have found that technology makes my life easier and enriches my students’ educational experiences. I love using technology in my daily life. Texting, social networking, HULU, Kindle, Amazon, Audible, online banking – these are all examples of technologies I access on a daily basis, just on my phone. At work I use an online gradebook, word processing, Google Classroom, and Internet searches. My students use many of these technologies on a daily basis. However, as a teacher, I have primarily used technology with my students for word processing and research. During the course of my EdTech studies, I have discovered many benefits to integrating technology into the content areas.
One benefit to integrating technology into my ELA classroom, is that I help improve my students’ digital literacy. One of the Common Core standards for writing is to “use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.” This is essentially how I have used technology in the past, with the exception of collaboration. With Google Apps for Education, my students can collaborate within a document, or on our class website. However, there is so much more that technology can do to benefit my students.
According to Roblyer and Doering (2013), (citing Stripling, 2010), digital literacy means that “Students must be able to gather information from any format and, more importantly, make sense of that information, use it, and communicate it to others” (p. 267). That is exactly what a modern language arts teacher is called upon to do.
One issue in the language arts classroom is the availability of equitable texts written at widely varying reading levels. The reading levels in my classroom range roughly from 3rd grade to 11th grade. If I want students to engage independently with a text, I have to pick a low-level text that all students can access, or use direct instruction, which doesn’t really allow for independent work. A wonderful solution to this problem is newsela.com. Newsela allows teachers to create accounts for their students and assign articles and quizzes. The articles are available in a range of reading levels. With this technology, I can have my students read the same article, and engage with it independently.
Another issue in the language arts classroom is writing. Seventh grade students struggle with writing and the writing process. When we have students write an essay on paper, they resist revising and editing because it is a lot of physical labor. It is often difficult for teachers to track students’ writing progress because students lose early drafts and it would be unwieldy for teachers to store every piece of paper students use for writing. The solution to these writing issues is to use Google Docs. Ben Stern at EdSurge suggests reviewing the version history of a document to see how students have grown as writers during the course of an assignment.
A final benefit of technology in the ELA classroom, is the opportunity for students to receive immediate feedback on grammar assignments. Websites like NoRedInk provide grammar assignments based on the students’ reported interests and provide immediate feedback and instruction as students answer questions.
Technology can truly transform the content areas. I have seen my students work much harder on an essay using a graphic organizer on Scholastic’s website than they have ever worked on paper. Embrace the new and discover what works in your classroom.
- Roblyer, M. D. & Doering, A. H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
- Stern, B. (2012, October 17). Because you asked: How tech can transform english/language arts class from good to great. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/n/because-you-asked-how-tech-can-transform-english-language-arts-class-from-good-to-great