The Digital Toolbox

Enhancing Literacy "Outside the Box"

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Technology in Today's World

  • As society and technology change, so does literacy (IRA, 2009; Leu, 2000; NCTE, 2013).
  • New literacies augment traditional literacies to enhance learning (Bogard & McMackin, 2012) and alter the way information is created, distributed, and exchanged (Lankshear & Knobel, 2003).
  • Multimodal literacies has expanded the way we produce and consume texts (NCTE, 2005).
  • To be successful in the future workforce, students need to develop process-oriented skills rather than general content knowledge (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, & Cammack, 2004).

Tasks Over Tools

To become fully literate in today’s world, students must become proficient in the new literacies of 21st-century technologies. As a result, literacy educators have a responsibility to effectively integrate these new technologies into the curriculum, preparing students for the literacy future they deserve. (ILA, 2009)


  • Avoid technology as an add on.

  • Integrate with pre-existing lessons and instructional activities routinely to support curriculum goals (Edutopia Staff, 2008).

  • Digitalize familiar literacy practices such as reader response, reader’s theater, research, and writing.

Sharing with Authentic Audiences

Retelling with Puppet Pals

Check out these step-by-step directions as you prepare to introduce Puppet Pals in your own classroom.
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
The Gingerbread Man

Online Discussion of Texts

Begin with Modeling

  • Modeled how to record thinking of "Home of the Brave" by Applegate using Lino. Then, each day during the read aloud for the next two weeks, students recorded their thinking using Lino.

  • Students made connections with the main character, Kek as they experienced moving to a new state and learning English.

  • They analyzed and compared characters and lifted favorite lines from the text.

  • One student demonstrated his development of a world view by considering privilege in the United States.

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Window into Student Thinking

Below, notice how this student demonstrates basic comprehension of story events but is ready to dig deeper with inferential thinking.
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Sample Teacher Response

Hi Natasha, from looking at your post-its I see that you're a very observant reader and you jot down subtle events that are happening in the story. For instance, you wrote that Jessie would play with the boys but one by one, they left her to go play something else. I noticed that too! I think you are ready now to write about what this makes you think is really happening in the story. This is called inferring. What can you infer is the reason why the boys are leaving Jessie? Whenever you jot down another important event, I'd love to see you also add what this makes YOU think about the event. One way you can do this is by saying something like "I think this is happening because…" Give it a shot!

Self-Evaluation and Assessment

Online Book Reviews

For more information about writing and sharing online book reviews to increase students' engagement and interest in reading, click on the links below.
ISTE Transcript

Here is a link to the backchannel conversation from the ISTE 2016 Conference. What a great group!

Contact us!

Katie Stover Kelly

Associate Professor, Furman University

Lindsay Yearta

Assistant Professor, Winthrop University