Figure 1: Image found at Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html
The SAMR model, used to evaluate the effectiveness of how technology is being integrated into the classroom is an easy and useful tool that should help teachers be more intentional and explicit in the use of technology when designing lessons. Most of my use of technology has been to support students with reading and writing activities, and can appreciate that for the most part, substituting the physical act of writing to using a program such as CoWriter has enhanced student writing experience, but has not transformed it to an activity that engenders a higher, cognitive level. Over the past few weeks I have continued to provide students with quick tools – such as Natural Reader (a free, downloadable text to speech program for students with reading disabilities), Google Docs (focusing on the voice to text feature) and Pages (on Apple products – again voice to text) to support writing challenges, which again, are at the level of substitution and do not foster higher level thinking skills, such as creating, analyzing,collaborating and communicating. I have also used the internet as a source for information – as my go-to for immediate research, and quick access to subject matter I need for student use. The phrase “let’s Google it” is well understood – where the word “Google” has become a verb and way to find information. No longer do students look to dictionaries as per traditional education – another substitution use of technology to support students learning.
Vocabulary Development using Technology in a Redefined Way
In a digital world, being able to develop vocabulary skills using technology is essential. There are several great ideas about how to do this on the website: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/10-ways-use-technology-build-vocabulary
My goal this week will be to share one of these strategies with a group of striving readers in grade seven. We are currently working on an inquiry project, with a focus on cairn terrier dogs. I currently work with a wee cairn, Kona, in an Animal-Assisted-Therapy type of role who has begun to have a huge impact on the students in our DL context. Two of these students would like to shape an inquiry project around Kona to better inform the other students about her breed type – history of the cairn, characteristics, temperament, skills, health, nutrition, needs and service. As a part of the explicit instruction in literacy skills, I will be building vocabulary enhancement activities into the project. The term eVoc is used “both to highlight that the strategies rely on digital tools and resources and to suggest the evoking of learning potential that is possible when technology and media are part of the instructional mix” (Dalton, 2015).
As my students peruse the internet, books, magazines, talk with professionals and ask questions about their focus questions (still in the process of generating) they will be asked to generate a bank of vocabulary words that need explaining. Students will then be asked to use media to discover and express vocabulary knowledge. Options for the students will include developing word meaning as “they read a definition, view graphics, listen to the word, write or audiotape a personal connection to the word, create a caption for a graphic, and complete an interactive word map (Dalton, 2015).
For example:vocabulary development sample
Working collaboratively, in pairs, my students will share ideas, use their creative thinking skills, generate and share a variety of definitions to expand their vocabulary and teach other students through the visual presentation using technology. Powerpoint, and Google Slides are two easy programs to support this endeavour. Another useful app – Adobe Spark, could be used to narrate the vocabulary and transform the definitions using kid-friendly language and images. Likely I will try this route as this app would promote higher level thinking and engagement.
I’d be happy to hear of any other great resources out there to support vocabulary development for my students. Please check out the website I referenced as it had a lot of great information regarding the importance of explicit instruction in vocabulary and a host of tech-based options. I look forward to trying them with my students.
Dalton,B. And Grisham, D. (2015). 10 Ways to Use Technology to Build Vocabulary. http://www.readingrockets.org/article/10-ways-use-technology-build-vocabulary