About Julie Coiro
Integrating Technology into a
Comprehensive Literacy Program
in Grades 3-6

Presented by Julie Coiro
Literacy Initiative Professional Development Series at SERC
Part 3 of 3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Welcome back to our third and final session.

Today we'll be exploring the following topics:

  1. Differentiated Software Supports for Literacy Instruction
  2. Evaluating WebSites vs. Informational Literacy 
  3. Evaluating the Use and Impact of Technology 
  4. An Integrated Unit in Action
  5. Team Development of Action Plan/Project

Imagine this scenario...

Imagine that this is your student...

Salvatore is a 7th grade boy who reads at a second-third grade reading level. He enjoys learning about real-life things, yet he is unmotivated to read most of the informational text he has access to at school. In addition, he is often embarassed when you, as his teacher, attempt to provide "low-level" traditional texts for him to read.  He has strong listening comprehension skills and is an avid computer user at home.  

Imagine that this is your curriculum...

Your seventh grade science curriculum tasks each student with learning more about tropical rainforests and to identify how their existence contributes to our world.  

What would a traditional learning unit look like for this student? 
What role can technology plan in enhancing the literacy learning opportunities for this student?

1. How will you motivate this student?  How will you build background knowledge (or encourage him to activate the knowledge he already has?
Search Yahooligans for pictures and sounds that help visualize context of rainforest.  
2. How will you ensure that this student has access to appropriate leveled text and tasks? Provide a direct  link to appropriate leveled informational website with some prompting questions and text-to-speech supports. 
3. How will you extend this student's content area vocabulary and his use of context clues for decoding and making meaning?  
  • Import text from Enchanted Learning website (or other) into Missing Links software
  • Text-to-speech supports with Text Aloud MP3
4. How can you adapt text that is too challenging for this student so that he has access to the information on a different level?  
  • Transform important rainforest concepts, vocabulary and images into a PowerPoint slide show to guide your whole group discussion or small group exploration
  • Text-to-speech supports with Text Aloud MP3
5. How can you actively engage this student in constructing a multimedia response to this information while at the same time assessing his learning and the learning of others?  
  • Design a set of  interactive game show quiz questions about the Rainforest (or some aspect of the rainforest) using a PowerPoint template
  • Encourage others in the class to take the quiz.

Differentiated Software Supports for Literacy Instruction

Literacy Related Software (Julie)

Guidelines for Blending Software with Reading Needs (Is more than one category included?)
  • Comprehension monitoring: provides prompts and options to assist with text processing
  • Reading-Writing Connections: Includes both reading and writing activities/suggestions within one package (reinforce small movements toward adult conventions)
  • Literature-based reading: Incorporates published literature with on-screen reading activities
  • Writing-Reading Connections: uses students' writing as a basis for reading development

Evaluating Websites vs. Informational Literacy

Evaluating Websites         VERSUS

Web Site Evaluation...
  • Does the page have the author's last name and email address?
  • Are the facts on the page what you were looking for? 
  • Does the page take a long time to load?
  • Is the information current?
  • Do all the links works correctly? 
Explore activities related to this task:
Questions to Discuss:
  • How does website evaluation differ from informational literacy? 
  • Which tasks require higher levels of critical thinking?  
  • How can we support students who are developing these important informational literacies?

Informational Literacy  / Critical Literacy

Media Literacy - Key Habits of Mind.... (Brunner & Tally, 1999)
  • What's the main idea and whose point of view is it? 
  • How relevant and reliable is the information in support of the argument? 
  • How is the message conveyed with different types of media?  
  • Who are the intended viewers and how might other audiences respond?  
  • Are the portrayals of subjects accurate, exaggerated or biased?  
  • What questions do I have now?  What other points of view might be included?  What additional information do I need and where can I get it? 
Explore activities related to this task:

A few current examples for you:
  1. White House for Kids:    Choice A  --  Choice B  --  Choice C

  2. Kinerase Lotion:    Choice A  -- Choice B 

  3. Current News:    Choice A  --   Choice B --  Choice C  --  Choice D

  4. State Reports (Minnesota):     Choice A  --  Choice B  -- Choice C

  5. More information and examples


Evaluating the Use and Impact of Technology

"The effectiveness of technology is embedded in the effectiveness of other school improvement's a process, not a number" (McNabb, Hawkes and Roukes, 1999). We need to look at the bigger picture of how change in technology impacts the entire context of learning  (NCREL, 1999) and broaden our current practices for evaluating the impact of technology in education. Provided below are several online resources to help guide your efforts to facilitate positive change in your school.  

We can more closely examine the success of learning with technology within these four contexts:

  1. Evaluating Teacher's Instruction
  2. Evaluating Adminstrator's Leadership 
  3. Evaluating Student Learning
  4. Evaluating School/District Technology Integration

Evaluating Teacher's Instruction

Evaluating Adminstrator's Leadership

Evaluating Student Learning

Evaluating School/District Technology Integration

Additional Readings for Later Study

An Integrated Unit in Action

An Integrated Unit in Action

How might you pull all these resources together into a content area literacy unit that addresses your students' literacy needs while using the technology resources available at your school?

Thematic Area:  Child Labor Around the World


Grade Level: Grades 4+
Literacy Goals:
Social Studies Goals:
Technology Goals:

  • Use Inspiration to complete a Pre-Reading Vocabulary Sort (see handout).  
  • Use anticipation guide (see also article at Suite101) to build background knowledge, motivate interest in the topic, connect to real world, support students' predictions. (see handout). Possible prompts for Child Labor include...
    • All people have the right to go to school when they are young.
    • It is fair for parents to make children hand over all their hard-earned money to the family.
    • There should be a law to protext children from working before they are a certain age.
    • It is not fair to make someone work for free.
    • A family is an important support system in a child's life.
    • All countries have the same laws.  
During Reading
  • Access text passages about Child Labor from UNICEF's Voices of Youth Website (click on  "stories" from any section)  or The World of Working Children.
  • Develop essential questions and critical discussion questions; Meet in guided reading groups to read various text segments with different purposes.  
  • Input text into Missing Links software for practice with vocabulary and rereading text. 
  • Use Text Reader to support students in accessing difficult text. 
After Reading
Extension Ideas
  • Math Activity with The World of Working Children (individual stories from children in Asia):  Incorporate data from within stories into a spreadsheet or database activity that compares, for example, how much these children earned in a day, month and year compared to children of working age here in the United States.  
  • Social Studies Activity: Read how students around the world are actively speaking out against child labor.  Visit Unicef's Take Action Forum for Children and Work or view an exciting student response called Kids Campaign to Build a School for Iqbal
  • Interested students can learn more from The United States Child Labor Coalition

Action Plan / Project 


Think back again to your hopes for your students to grow and change as readers/writers and for your teachers (or you) to grow as professionals through their use of computer technologies.  Take a moment to revisit your handouts and reflect on the new things you’ve learned about…

  • Emerging Trends of Technology Use for Literacy Learning
  • Examples of how to Enhance and Extend Literacy Learning with the Internet
  • National, State and Local Standards for Assessing Teaching, Learning & Leadership
  • Child Safety Issues and Acceptable Use Policies
  • Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Educators
  • Equal Access and Digital Equity
  • Using Search Engines with Adults and Students to foster literacy learning
  • Instructional Models of Learning with Technology (Cyberguides, Webquests, Filamentality Activities) 
  • Instructional Activities for Learning with Technology (Publishing Classroom Webpages, Tele-Collaborative Projects, Organizing & Connecting with Inspiration
  • Differentiating Instruction with Technology (software, assistive technology tools)
  • Informational Literacy (Evaluating and Critiquing Online Information) 
  • Evaluating the Use and Impact of Technology 

Your Task...

Work with your team to develop a plan/project that applies/integrates at least one aspect of the information above in a manner that impacts student literacy learning.  Some guiding questions to help you get started:

  • What literacy learning purpose/need is driving your project?
  • What elements of your local/state/national curriculum will this project address?
  • What technology tools/resources do you currently have available to begin working on this project?  What other tools/resources will you need and how will you begin gaining access to these items?
  • What training/support will teachers/students need to carry out this project?
  • What kind of timeline have you set for this project?
  • What new policies (if any) will need to be developed or revised so that current ethical and safety issues are considered? 
  • How will you address the varying needs, interests and abilities of students involved? 
  • How will you measure whether or not the use of technology has impacted learning, instruction, and/or leadership? 
  • How will you share your experiences/products with others in your community or elsewhere? 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3