Literacy in a Digital World
Texts, Tools, and Techniques for 21st Century Learners!
What is digital literacy?
In a recent article by Javorsky and Trainin (2014), "Mobile devices for reading are available to children today in the form of smartphones, electronic book readers (e-readers), and tablets, and a recent large-scale study found that up to half of U.S. children ages 8 or younger have one or more of these digital devices in their own home (Common Sense Media & Rideout, 2011). We can assume that these numbers have grown because elementary-aged children are now carrying cell phones to school and some schools are providing Chromebooks and IPads for every student or entire classrooms. As educators, we need to ask ourselves how our students are already utilizing these devices, and how can we connect learning experiences to them to promote reading and writing? The purpose of this handout is to provide practical tips for educators on the benefits of integrating technology into the classroom to promote literacy skills for our young readers and writers through recent research.
Tip #1: Active Engagement
Tip #2: Critical Thinking Skills
Tip #3: Collaboration
Tip #4: Creating and Sharing
Tip #5: Experience and Exploration Through Digital Inquiry
Tip #6: Differentiated Instruction
Tip #7: Social Networking
Tip #8: Writing in Real-World Context......... Blogging
Tip #9: Teaching Digital Citizenship
Tip #10: Feedback and Assessment
Tip #11: Supporting Vocabulary Through Multimodal Resources
Tip #12: Navigating Digital Texts
Five Points for Parents
2. Be a good role model by being respectful online and limit use of technology to spend quality time with the family. Children listen and learn from their parents and other important people around them, so we need to promote Digital Citizenship even as adults.
3. Be proactive in regards to student safety online. Talk to your student about what they're doing online, monitor usage, know the apps, know their friends, and keep them safe.
4. Use technology as a tool to communicate with other family members such as grandparents. Skype, Google Hangout, and email provide opportunities for students to communicate with distant family and friends.
5. Download books on an eReader, so students can read on-the-go! They can read while they're waiting in line at the dentist's office or riding in a car. They can build up their digital library and have lots of books available to read anytime.
Young readers involved in digital inquiry can navigate through this website which is designed for beginning researchers. The added features for young students include spoken-word audio, text highlighting and audio/video media. It is available on Apple products, Android devices, Chromebooks, and PC. It embraces multimodal literacy such as visual literacy, digital literacy, and media literacy which helps students retain information.
The Scholastic website has always been a source of literacy resources for teachers and students. One of the features available on this website is booktalks. The purpose of the feature is to inspire students to read the children’s books listed by presenting booktalks in traditional print version and the new video booktalks. These booktalks might inspire students to make their own digital booktalks to share with other students and get them excited about reading.
Blogs provide students with opportunities to share their ideas, creativity, and views with an authentic audience. Kidblog is a secure website that allows students to post their thoughts and ideas and share responses to classmates' posts. There is an initial fee for the teacher, but this website serves as a useful resource for the students all year, and they love to publish and receive feedback from their classmates and teacher. The teacher moderates what is published, and it's private, so it is a safe online tool. They also get to exercise digital citizenship and learn to respond respectfully to others.
Wordle is one of the online tools that can be used by students to make "word clouds" using text. Students can type in vocabulary words that are being studied on a topic or insert text from a website or book that will be presented with words that appear more frequently. Students can choose different fonts, print colors, and shapes for their word clouds. They can even download them and share their word clouds with other students.
Common Sense Media offers a curriculum for educators to instruct students about digital citizenship. They provide the tools and resources to help schools build a positive culture and teach their students to be responsible citizens while using technology. Eight topic areas of information are presented based on research that include internet safety, security and privacy, cyberbullying, identity, and communication.
Teachers and students love BrainPOP Jr.! This popular website can be used on any mobile device or at home to engage students through learning games, activities, lessons, interactive quizzes, videos, and concept mapping. It offers cross-curricular lessons and activities that are aligned to the standards. One of the best features is that teachers can check for understanding by having students take a quick assessment after the lesson and share it with the teacher by email.
Tumble Book Library makes checking out a book so easy! It provides students with access to a great selection of popular children's books that are animated and narrated. It's compatible with mobile devices and easy for students to navigate through the features to check out books they want to read. There is a 30 day free trial to sign up for a subscription. If schools or districts purchase a subscription, the code can also be shared with parents for reading at home.
Burns, M. (2014, April 30). Resources for using iPads in grades 3-5. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/ipad-apps-upper-elementary-resources.
Monica Burns is the founder of ClassTechTips.com. In this resource guide featured on Edutopia, she provides an extensive list of engaging online activities, resources for finding apps, and teaching with best practices. In many schools, third through fifth grade classrooms have access to iPads, but it can be difficult to know which apps to download. Burns offers a list of articles that feature the most favorite apps for iPads. This article also offers resources for coding, lesson plans, creativity with iPads. She reminds educators to choose apps carefully that will best benefit the needs of the students.
Crowley, B. (2014, October 29). What digital literacy looks like in the classroom. Education Week Teacher. Retrieved
In this online article, the author describes how students are connected to digital devices 24/7, and it's changing the way kids learn. Students are considered to be "digital natives" since they have grown up with technology since birth. Because students utilize so much technology, educators need to find ways to integrate it into the classroom. The author also mentions ways to use social media in the classroom and teach students about digital responsibility.
Knight, D. (2015, November 19). Why use digital interactive notebooks? 21st century learning. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from
In this blog post by Danielle Knight, she shares her ideas for implementing digital interactive notebooks. As more schools become one-to-one with digital devices, educators need to look for ways to implements technology and engage students with different online tools and resources. She lists 10 reasons why educators should implement digital interactive notebooks in the classroom which include improved student writing, high engagement, access anywhere, and paperless among other reasons that she mentions. She uses Google Drive apps in her classroom.
Miners, Z., & Pascopella, A. (2007). The new literacies. District Administrator. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/new-literacies.
Many administrators and educators are recognizing the need to provide 21st century literacy technologies in the classroom. Students will need to be able to use the Internet and communication technologies such as wikis, blogs, and email to be college ready and work in the future. Students need to learn to navigate the Internet by understanding the features that are provided, being able to critically evaluate the information, and inquire new information through self-directed learning.
Sylvester, R., & Greenidge, W. (2009, December). Digital storytelling: Extending the potential for struggling writers. The Reading Teacher, 63(4), 284-295. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/digital-storytelling-extending-potential-struggling-writers.
In this article, the author provides information about motivating struggling writers with digital technologies. Research was done on three 4th graders who were struggling writers based on their writing performance. Information is provided about the different approaches that were used with each student and how they were motivated to write by utilizing the technology provided and scaffolding
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Source: Word Cloud by Tagxedo (Personal Word Cloud)