The most important purpose of basic education is to teach children to read so that they can use written language to learn more about the world. As literacy teachers, we try to create balanced and eclectic instructional approaches to help our students become independent and strategic readers, whether we make use of basal readers or trade books, phonics or sight words, whole group instruction or paired reading.
Why use technology to support literacy learning? In truth, we do not have a choice. To succeed in the Information Age, our students must have functional literacy not just in the usual array of materials (e.g., books, newspapers, and documents of all sorts), but also in information technology. This does not just mean computer literacy, which refers to knowledge and competencies in using computers generally (e.g., keyboard skills, familiarity with the operating system), but rather electronic literacy, which refers to literacy activities (such as reading, writing, and spelling) which are delivered, supported, accessed, or assessed through computers and other electronic means rather than paper (Topping, 1997).
Technology offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities for teachers of reading/language arts. It opens doors to teaching literacy skills in ways that are not available from only books and other traditional print sources. Based on the principle that instruction should drive technology, this session will share ideas, options, and opportunities for using technology in the language arts classroom. Session 1 will show strategies for using instructional technology to support different areas in reading/language arts instruction, such as word recognition, spelling, vocabulary acquisition, reading and writing development, and content literacy. Session 2 will describe and show components of more comprehensive programs like Scholastic Reading Counts and Accelerated Reader.