Technology influences all content areas. English Language Arts (ELA) is no exception to that fact. Language Arts changes with the changes in technology. As mentioned by Roblyer, the definition of what it means to be literate is not the same now as it was in the past, (2016). Technology has impacted what skills someone needs in order to use and understand written and oral language. We live in a world where we navigate language in so many media formats that teachers need to teach their students how to make sense of it all. Technology is part of language now. It makes sense that it has its place in education.
Students need skills to navigate a digital world. As society becomes more reliant on technology, students must be taught how to interact with and use technology effectively. By integrating technology into ELA curriculum, teachers can create more effective instruction for their students.
Technology connects with students in a way that traditional means do not. Technology is appealing which makes students more likely to participate willingly. This winter, during a lesson observation by my administrator, I chose to use a Kahoot quiz with my second graders to practice finding adjectives instead of having them write the answers down on paper. My administrator noted how much more involved my students wanted to be once they thought of the quiz as a game. Since that lesson, my students always ask if we can do a Kahoot with the lesson “even though it’s like a test.” Whenever I use technology with my students, I don’t have to remind them do stay on task or participate. They want to be involved and engaged.
In the reading about integrating technology into Language Arts, Roblyer mentions that technology such as ebooks, ereaders, and word processing help encourage students be motivated to do more reading and writing, (2016). By second grade, teachers often know which students will struggle with reading without significant intervention. In my class, I have a few students who won’t try to read because learning disabilities make it hard. When I give them an audiobook or ebook to read along with, they will try harder to read. It makes it easier to get something from a story without having to struggle and work for every sound in a word. When reading is very labor intensive for students, they don’t want to do it. The same thing goes for writing. The same students who struggle with reading in my class struggle with their writing. It’s not necessarily forming the letters and writing itself, but more of spelling and remembering ideas long enough to get them written down. This is why I love using word processors for those students. They can use a microphone to say what they want to write and “text to type” will do all of the writing. When they do type, they have spell check to help with spelling and grammar errors. Technology can make it easier for students to get their thoughts where they need to be.
An advantage of integrating technology into language arts curriculum is it can help students see the purpose of learning different language topics. Students want and need to see the real-life application of what they learn, so they can buy in to the content. With my second grade students, sometimes they as why they need to remember certain grammar rules or spelling patterns. I always look for relevant ways to help them connect what we learn to real life. The easiest way to do that is through video games, Snapchat, and the internet. I point out that a lot of them play games where they can chat, and they need to be able to write well enough to communicate with their friends. To illustrate the importance of using commas correctly, I showed my class a video of a book called Eats, Shoots, & Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make A Difference and now they make connections between the video and what they read and write. Without access to technology, I would have had to go out and find that book. With access to technology, I was able to make commas relevant and something that mattered.
Another advantage of using technology with language arts is that there are so many ways to use it to bring authentic experiences to the classroom. Technology is a big part of the world that students function in. They want to see and experience meaningful activities that connect to the content. Instead of only reading a textbook article on penguins, students can go to the internet and find their own articles about penguins. Then the students can use literacy and comprehension skills to evaluate the value and validity of the articles. Students are expected to transfer skills from the classroom context to real life, but without authentic practice, students may miss the mark. Even in my second grade classroom, my students want authentic experiences where they can really use their skills. Rather than just listening to their teacher talk about things like reading with good expression, my students can record themselves reading so that they can hear and see exactly how they read. When students practice in an authentic way, they make more connections about why the skills are useful. They can see real value in what they learn, so they hold on to it.
Technology is changing the way that we teach students, and that is a good thing. As people, we expect doctors to advance in the ways they treat illnesses and heal patience. That’s called best practice. Teachers need to be held to a similar standard. Approaches from the past may still work for teaching reading, but with technology there are new ways that qualify as best practice. Technology isn’t going away. It’s here and we need to use it to help teachers be the best they can.
Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating educational technology into teaching. 7th ed. Pearson Education.