The Common Core State Standards emphasize the need to “prepare all students for success in college, career, and life.” In today’s workplace, that means communicating across a variety of platforms. Jobs are no longer location-based, with all members of the workforce in the same building at the same time. Instead, a number of digital tools, such as email, voice-over-Internet calling and web-conferencing software help colleagues connect across space and time. These tools can be put to effective use in the classroom too!
One way to share the love of reading with others is through video conferencing. Teachers can begin to build the transliteracy skills students need to connect and collaborate with digital tools using a free resource like Google Hangouts. Hangouts is a powerful tool that offers an opportunity to introduce a wider world to your students by connecting with classes in another state or country. Read the rest of this entry…
To develop a comprehensive vocabulary, students must build connections between words and cultivate sophisticated schemas of meaning. Teachers can use graphic organizers as a tool to help students visualize the interconnection between words to support this process. In the transliterate classroom, one way students can create powerful graphic organizers to support vocabulary growth is through the use of word clouds.
A word cloud is a compilation of words associated to a distinct idea that has been appropriated from a narrative or informational text on the topic. The words in the cloud often vary in print size and color. The more frequently a word is found in the text, the larger it appears in the cloud. A quick look at the cloud can help students preview a text passage, introduce key terms, and strengthen vocabulary.
Teachers and students can create word clouds using a number of free websites, most of which work in a similar manner. ABCYa! Word Clouds is a great place to get started with early elementary students. Begin by finding a passage of grade-level appropriate text online that you plan on having students read. Students can then type or paste the text into the word box, press the create button and view the word cloud. After generating the word cloud, students can change the color, layout and font of the words through an easy-to-use interface. ABCYa! Word Clouds can be saved or printed for later reference.
When teachers model the creation of word clouds using ABCYa! Word Clouds or a similar web application, they are not only offering opportunities to strengthen vocabulary, but also exposing students to critical transliteracy skills such as highlight, copy, paste and “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editing. Teachers should be teaching the vocabulary associated with these technological tasks alongside academic vocabulary contained in the text.
My colleague, Dr. Kathy Roskos, and I were invited to Montreal during the summer of 2015 to share our research and work around the use of ebooks to support early literacy at the Digital Literacy for Preschoolers: Maximizing the Benefits of eBooks for Emergent Literacy conference.
The outcome of this conference was to build a better understanding of the state of the evidence and a develop a new section of the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development that will be useful for families, professionals and policy makers.
The Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development is produced by the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD) and the Strategic Knowledge Cluster on Early Child Development (SKC-ECD). Respectively based at the Université de Montréal and Université Laval (Quebec, Canada), these two organizations have built over the years a solid network of international experts who gather, synthesize and comment, in their respective domain of expertise, the most up-to-date scientific knowledge available on the development of young children, from conception to age five.
Recently, the Technology in early childhood education section of the Encyclopedia was published. Dr. Roskos and I contributed a piece titled Teaching Early Literacy with E-books: Emerging Practices. I hope it helps shed some light around what we know and what we don’t know about teaching with ebooks.
What makes a good, workable, instructive, enjoyable ebook for young children? Certainly the established criteria of quality children’s literature apply to ebook texts. Strong features of good storybooks over the ages are similarly the features of enduring ebooks into the future: age-appropriate material that interests children, strong plots, and rich characterizations of the human condition are most likely the types of features we’d hope to find in a high-quality ebook. In this way, ebooks are very much like traditional books, and their literary or informational content can be judged by the same general criteria.
However, the addition of electronics impacts reading in new ways. An ebook, for example, can have background music whereas a traditional book cannot. Ebooks can provide mini-tutorials in hotspots, hyperlinks and virtual assistants who instruct and explain on-the-spot, in essence, ‘teaching’ children early literacy skills, such as phonological awareness and vocabulary. Read the rest of this entry…
Educators should exemplify how an individual uses digital tools and resources to become a skilled communicator, collaborator, and devoted lifelong learner. Modeling the use of a range of transliteracy tools is something teachers need to engage in on a daily basis. Most educators are familiar with Twitter, however many wonder how to actually put it into classroom practice. Twitter brainstorming is one way to begin, even in the early grades, because it does not require students to have individual Twitter accounts. Read the rest of this entry…
During the development of a literate society, literacy practices were very linear in nature. Consider a traditional piece of literature, like a book. It has a cover with the title and author. When we address these elements, we begin by decoding letters and words starting in the upper left and moving to the right across the first line to develop meaning and comprehend printed text. We then open the book, turn the page and then again begin to read for meaning making starting in the upper left, moving across to the right and then down to the next line. This repetitive process reflects the literacy practices most of us have participated in since birth. Read the rest of this entry…
In their most basic form, children’s ebooks are computer files that act much like a book. They have traditional conventions like a title, pages, and chapters. However, they also can contain illustrations and hotspots that provide a navigation mechanism for the reader. A deeper look at children’s ebooks reveals a more complex form, a type of software that includes animations, sounds, videos, and a read-aloud function. Read the rest of this entry…
Literacy is no longer confined to a standard print format. There is an increasing integration and adoption of digital texts and ebooks in school libraries and classrooms across the United States. Compared to their print counterparts, ebooks are portable, facilitating the easy transport of sizable libraries with little physical effort. The mobility of ebooks allows them to be used in any place at any time via handheld or mobile devices.
Ebooks for young children are like storybooks we know and love in some ways. While features of ebooks mirror those we see in traditional children’s literature, ebooks add new, digital features. These digital additions to print are different in a manner that is profoundly changing the storybook as a piece of early literacy learning. As a result, ebooks can be used to develop transliterate practices in the classroom that address academic and cognitive diversity in learners. Read the rest of this entry…
The author Donald J. Sobol first published his adventures of boy super sleuth “Encyclopedia” Brown in 1963. All 29 books in this popular series presented the reader with a set of short mysteries, each including factual disparities somewhere within. Young readers were encouraged to read the text closely to try to identify the “slip-up” that breaks the case and then turn to the “Answers” section in the back of the book to verify their finding.
An important part of writing in digital spaces is the use of “hyperlinks.” In their most basic form, a “link,” or hyperlink is word, phrase or image on a Web page that instructs a computer to move to another relevant Web page. Much like Sobol’s “Answers” section linked readers to the facts that solved each case, hyperlinked writing provides links that are pertinent to a piece of writing on the web and help to strengthen the writing by providing direct access back to source documents and related materials for the writer’s audience. Read the rest of this entry…
Transliteracy is a concept that captures the field of literacy and describes language arts as more than a function of foundational skills, such as reading and writing, but also encompasses the ability to communicate across traditional and emerging platforms (Thomas, S. et. al., 2007). Simply put, transliteracy is the understanding of traditional literacy components alongside the nuances that living in a touchscreen world brings. Transliteracy puts aside the differences between traditional and emerging literacies to focus on the interconnected path of all literacies and the role they play in developing a literate member of society. Students need to become fluent, not only in their reading and writing practice, but also in the digital skills that are put to regular use in the world around them.
Reading and writing are at the core of transliteracy, as we interact with both traditional and digital print in our daily lives. Whether we are flipping through the pages of our favorite paperback or checking the weather on our smartphone, foundational reading skills (letter knowledge, sounds, and word reading) and meaning- based skills (comprehension, conceptual knowledge, and vocabulary) play an integral role. However, new skills, such as recognizing icons, setting up preferences, mastering multi-tap and swipe gestures, all play a pivotal role becoming a transliterate individual. Read the rest of this entry…