In this blog I want to share with you 2 practical applications I have for improving literacy in the digital classroom, but first I need to tell you how my reflection and research into this subject came about …
On my first prac I was appalled by the standard of spelling and word comprehension in my English class rooms and immediately began reflecting on how I could be a catalyst for improvement. I wasn’t naive enough to think I could solve their deficiencies overnight, but I was at least bold and passionate enough to try to stem the tide.
My tactic was simply to set out a column at the start of each lesson on the side of the whiteboard with “Vocabulary” as the heading. Whenever we encountered a word that was difficult I’d write it down; include a symbol indicating what part of speech it represented [ (v) for verb, (n) for noun (adj) for adjective etc] sometimes adding the part of speech it was more commonly used in; and then for each word I would write its definition beside in simple language. The students wrote the words and defintions down on a handout I had laid out for them in an easy to follow formula and which I had insisted they glue to the back of their lecture pads.
Over the weeks the students kept adding words to their lists and were reminded periodically about a test to be held on a specific day. When the day of the test came I think the highest score attained by the top performing student was 9 out of 20 and the average score was 3!
I reflected once again on why these students were struggling to learn. Most I think would have liked to have done better, but faced with a litany of words longer than their own Christmas wish lists, it was too much for them to express or bear! The days of rote learning long spelling lists through repetitive strokes of a pen are long gone. Today’s students are multi-taskers caught down the rabbit hole of popular culture websites, You Tube clips and the Apple Itunes store, all simultaneously as they complete tomorrow’s assessment. Like it … (yes, I love it) or not, we’re all learners in a digital age.
With that in mind I began my final class with Year 10 delivering a mini-presentation on the benefits of making beautiful word clouds with their spelling words using Wordle.
With digital media never far from their fingertips, this free application has special relevance to their ways of being and behaving. The activity also has merits for kinesthetic and visual learners. So long as the students type the words in correctly they get repetitious memory practice in spelling the words. And by clicking the “randomise” button repeatedly, theoretically they should learn their words subliminally, seeing them over and over each time in new, interesting and visually appealing ways.
The second spelling app I want to share with you is “Spelling Test” for Ipads and Iphones. This one is particularly relevant for incorporation into the classroom because its inbuilt email service provides learning evidence for both formative and summative assessment. As well as that, it provides real and discreet opportunities for differentiated learning for students already sensitive about their learning difficulties. Teachers can easily email or hand out individuated spelling lists for specific students and with private one-on-one flow of evidence and communication via the app’s inbuilt email, a student’s learning can be easily monitored in an inclusive environment.
I think it has a real place in all KLA classrooms, so view my tutorial on how this incredible free app “Spelling Test” works.