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    Computer Coding as a Second Language

    By Kip Glazer
     | Apr 26, 2017

    Boy in yellow shirt on a laptopI recently read a story about a Colombian security guard named Edison Garcia Vargas, who learned to speak English using duolingo.com, one of my favorite language learning tools. As a teacher, I have recommended Duolingo (also available as an app) to several parents who want to learn English, including my own in South Korea. I was excited to hear Vargas' story, which demonstrates the life-changing impact of this tool.

    Improving literacy is a longtime passion of mine. Despite having lived in the United States for over 20 years, I know I will be a second-language learner for the rest of my life. I feel this acutely when my colleagues and friends make references to the '90s pop culture, to which I must explain that I lived in Korea until 1993 and didn't speak English until the late 1990s.

    One thing I have learned about language acquisition is that it requires daily practice. I often find myself searching for Korean words in conversations with my family, despite having attended a university in Korea. I frustrate my parents when I answer them in English.

    In many ways, learning to code is similar to learning to speak another language. Duolingo reminds its users to practice the language 20 to 30 minutes every day. Its website provides pictures, audios, and quizzes, and allows users to repeat the lessons as many times as they desire. I believe that's how we should approach teaching our students to code; students must practice every day, and in a structured environment.

    However, many schools do not offer coding courses. For these high school and middle school students, I recommend online learning tools such as codehs.com, codecademy.com, and codeavengers.com. For younger students, I recommend scratch.mit.edu and tynker.com, which,use colorful blocks and animated characters to help users build logical reasoning skills.

    Students also need to be immersed in the language that they want to learn. While I had Korean-speaking friends, I deliberately befriended Japanese, German, and French-speaking students at the language school I attended. We all spoke different languages, which forced all of us to communicate in English when possible. I suggest that students create similar support systems when learning to code. If they do not know someone locally, I tell them to visit github.com and hackpledge.org, sites where experienced computer programmers and developers offer help and answer questions.

    A report published by Burning Glass identifies coding experience as one of the most valuable and employable skills. With the advent of online coding courses, the educational resources that students need to develop these skills have become more broadly accessible.

    The most important thing, however, is to encourage students daily to persevere, even if they experience failures. I explain to my students that learning to code is learning to speak another language. Having struggled to learn English as an adult, I remind my students that they can learn to code successfully, even if they start later than others.

    Kip Glazer is a native of Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the United States in 1993 as a college student. In 2002, she graduated Cum Laude from California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. She earned her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University in 2004, while receiving her California Single Subject Teaching Credential in both Social Studies and English. Since then, she has earned additional teaching credentials in Health, Foundational Mathematics, and School Administration. Glazer is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University. She is the current team leader for Independence High School's Teachers' Professional Development Grant funded by California State University, Chico. She maintains a blog about her projects and grants.

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    Digital Literacy Demands on Specialized Literacy Professionals

    By Vicky Zygouris-Coe
     | Apr 21, 2017

    TILE-04212018-w300Expectations about the knowledge and skilled use of digital literacies, texts, and technologies are integrated throughout the July 2016 draft of the International Literacy Association’s 2017 Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals. This shift from the 2010 standards that focused much less on digital literacies reflects the changing definition of literacy in the 21st century.

    So, what types of knowledge and experiences do specialized literacy professionals need to meet students’, teachers’, and schools’ literacy needs in the 21st century? I examined and will share trends emerging from analysis of my state’s 2016–2017 K–12 reading plans. I analyzed the 32-page document from one of the top five largest school district’s plans with one purpose in mind: to identify this district’s plans to support students’ digital literacies. I present my findings below in two ways: (1) by presenting sample evidence of district support for digital literacies and (2) by raising questions about the role of specialized literacy professionals in this context.

    The following trends are representative of several school districts’ K–12 reading plans in my state.

    Sample School District K–12 Reading Plan

    Related Questions

    Literacy coaches, department chairs, and classroom teachers will analyze results from formative and summative assessments that also include embedded digital program assessments to track students’ progress toward mastery of standards.

    What knowledge do specialized literacy professionals and classroom teachers need to have to use an array of digital assessments to support students’ and teachers’ needs?

    The school district will leverage the power of technology by adopting a learning management system (LMS) to provide all educators access to data, content, resources, and expertise that promote inspiring teaching, improve student learning outcomes, and meet individual student needs.

    How can we weave a strong foundation for developing and supporting digital literacies through components of this learning management system?

    The LMS will be used as a key digital resource that supports a blended and personalized learning environment for teaching, learning, communication, and assessments that can be customized to all students’ needs.

    What knowledge do specialized literacy personnel need to design learning supports that use personalized tools and blended learning approaches?

    The LMS will support the district’s goal to move beyond the “textbook-driven classroom” core programs and provide teachers and students with access to extensive digital resources to build a bank of texts and materials beyond materials provided by the state-adopted materials for grades K–12.

    What do specialized reading professionals need to know and be able to do to support students’ literacy development in the context of digital texts, mediums, and contexts?

    The school district will provide professional development for teachers on how to (a) access, identify, and use a variety of complex digital and print texts that align with the curriculum and support students’ needs and (b) use digital tools and resources to leverage high-quality classroom instruction and appropriate interventions for all students.

    What do literacy interventions look like in the context of digital literacies?

    A component of an inviting and engaging literacy environment includes designated areas for (a) teachers to use digital tools and strategies to enhance instruction (e.g., interactive whiteboards, LCD projectors, document cameras, and student interactive respondents) and (b) students to use digital tools, e-books, computers, iPads, iPods, or MP3 players for accessing digital content and online resources.

    How can specialized literacy professionals help teachers, for example, learn how to support students’ reading of digital text and their development of online reading comprehension skills?

    The district’s Multitiered System of Supports (MTSS)/Response to Intervention (RTI) also includes using supplemental print and digital instructional and supplemental intervention resources.

    What knowledge do specialized literacy professionals need to have about how to use supplemental print and digital instructional and supplemental intervention resources?

    Classroom libraries with leveled text collections include both print and digital multimedia format resources in addition to the core reading program’s digital technology extensions.

    How can specialized literacy professionals collaborate with teachers and school librarians to select supplemental multimedia resources for teachers and their students?

    All students have ongoing access to texts in both print and digital formats.

    Having access to digital texts does not guarantee knowing how to read and comprehend them. What professional learning experiences would be useful to teachers?

    The school district’s core reading program also includes a suite of assessments to digital and print unit tests and unit writing projects that are used to monitor students’ reading gains on a quarterly basis.

    Taking a test online requires a different set of skills. What role should specialized literacy professionals play in this area?

    To become media literate, students must be able to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and effectively communicate information across various mediums in print and digital formats.

    What knowledge and experiences do specialized literacy professionals need to be able to model for teachers effective practices for supporting students’ critical reading, writing, and thinking skills?

    School-based literacy coaches will also be responsible for managing school-wide print and digital collections and closely monitoring the access and utilization of these resources in teaching and learning throughout the school.

    What professional learning opportunities do literacy coaches need to have for them to provide school support in the area of management and progress monitoring of the school’s reading/literacy program?

    The literacies of the 21st century have brought about many shifts, including shifts in the revised standards for specialized literacy professionals. The field is ripe for new conversations and collaborations geared toward developing and supporting literacy professionals’, teachers’, and students’ literacies in a digital age.

    Vicky Zygouris-Coe is a professor of reading education at the University of Central Florida.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    Casting a New Light on Podcasting

    By Mark J. Davis
     | Apr 14, 2017

    TILE_04142017_w300Richard Simmons was ubiquitous on television in the 1980s and 1990s. His Sweatin’ to the Oldies videos and weight-loss products sold millions. In the past decade, talk show hosts continued to welcome his exuberant and inexhaustible energy. Then, in 2013, he quietly disappeared from the limelight and chose to cut off communication with the public.

    Dan Taberski created the Missing Richard Simmons podcast chronicling the genuine stories of Richard’s positive impact on others and wondered what had become of the exercise guru. In March 2017, Taberski’s podcast reached the top of the Apple iTunes Store charts and ignited stories from mainstream news outlets. The power of the podcast was front-page news.

    The term podcast is often attributed to journalist Ben Hammerslay from 2004. The term is a made-up word combining “pod” which references newly introduced Apple iPods, and “broadcast” for the rise in online streaming radio. It is more likely that you have consumed media without ever realizing how the podcast changed our lives. In a digital landscape led by social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there seems to be less attention paid to a passive technology introduced just over a decade ago. Yet we regularly stream music and binge watch an entire television series.

    In other words, the podcast helped usher in the era of on-demand media. 

    Podcasted radio shows are similar to audiobooks; an episodic podcast allows you to enjoy chapters that build on one another. Serial is one of the leading examples, whereby users follow a true-crime mystery that unfold over several weeks. Fan fiction with original storylines have gravitated towards podcasting. At AudioFictions, fans of the Harry Potter have created over 200 original stories based on the J.K. Rowling’s series.

    Video podcasts, sometimes called vodcasts, have become more prevalent as well. YouTube and Vimeo certainly owe their designs to podcasting. Consequently, this helped usher in more online education, whereby learners participate at his or her own pace. TED talks have allowed millions of viewers to watch brief presentations of innovative designs and fascinating stories. MIT OpenCourseware and The Open University feature access to recorded lectures with exceptional educational content.  Talks with Teachers, #edChat Radio, and The Marshall Memo give abbreviated educational research and instruction through weekly podcasts.

    Teachers are also embracing podcast creations in the classroom. In several English classrooms at Barrington High School in Rhode Island, Bryan Caswell and Molly MacIntosh have begun capturing students’ oral histories as podcasts. The format was inspired by National Public Radio’s The Moth Radio Hour program, during which regular people tell short stories about their lives. Students in this project were given a thematic question such as, “When did you realize that your perception had changed?” Based on critiques from peers, the best stories were recorded as a live performance before an audience of parents, students, and teachers.

    For the past three years, I have been working with literacy students who needed practice with writing and oral speaking. Using the Star Wars Radio plays, we remixed stories from the original trilogy and created an episodic podcast. Each episode includes students’ vocal performance along with music and sound effects. As we build more episodes, we hope to use a Creative Commons License to distribute them publicly.

    Podcasting is a remarkable medium that is certainly worthy of a second look. If you have an interest, do a simple search with the term “podcast” included. Chances are that a podcast exists for you. When you are ready to dive into podcast distribution, try using a host such as SoundCloud or PodBean to reach a wider audience.

    mdavis-headshot_w80Mark J. Davis is a high school reading specialist and a doctoral candidate at University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. He is passionate about digital literacy with a specific interest in infographics and information visualization. Visit his website at www.davisclassroom.com or follow him on Twitter @watermarkedu.

    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

     

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    E-Writers: How Do They Influence Student Writing Motivation and Self-Efficacy?

    By Richard E. Ferdig, Kristine E. Pytash, Karl W. Kosko, and John Dunlosky
     | Apr 07, 2017

    04072017_TILE_w220E-writers, also known as digital writing tablets, are relatively simple devices that allow users to draw and write on varying size tablets. Less expensive versions are typically small and erase without saving, and more expensive models have larger displays and features like an ability to recall written images. E-writers have been touted for their ability to reduce paper waste and for their portability; however, little is known about how e-writers might influence students who are emerging writers. 

    To explore the value of e-writers for emerging writers, we worked in a local elementary school with students in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade. We conducted a six-week study to investigate how using e-writers might influence students’ self-efficacy and motivation. Using pre- and post-survey analysis, we measured students’ writing self-efficacy and motivation. Parents and teachers were also surveyed three times throughout the study to gather their perceptions.

    During the study, students had access to a Boogie Board Sync e-writer at school. Teachers used the e-writer when they saw opportunities in their instruction and kept a log of how they used the Boogie Boards. After four weeks of the study, we also gave all students a second Boogie Board to take home so we could explore the ways they wrote with the e-writer at home versus at school. At the end of the study, we collected all the writing done on the Boogie Boards. 

    We found evidence that e-writers can have a positive impact on students’ willingness to write and their perceptions of themselves as writers, as student data revealed significant growth in motivation and self-efficacy towards writing.

    With the significant amount of technology currently available, we were curious as to why this technology, which essentially only allows students to write directly on the screen, might have this impact. What we found, according to the parents and teachers, was that having writing as the sole feature of the tool might actually be one of the main reasons for its success. Instead of using a tool that allowed them to do a variety of activities, students were using the e-writers only to engage in emerging writing activities such as writing, drawing, scribbling, and spelling.

    In addition, parents and teachers noted that portability was important. Parents and teachers described various places (e.g. on the bus, during breaks, in the car, around the dinner table) where writing became part of their daily or family routine. Furthermore, parents and teachers reported that using the e-writer provided opportunities for students to collaboratively write with classmates and family.

    We tend to think of technology as being a powerful motivator; while it often is, we can’t forget that students need time to write to develop as writers. We appreciate the affordances of digital tools for writing; however, technology shouldn’t distract students from writing. Rather, it should be used to engage students in rich writing practices. 

    RickFerdig_w80Richard E. Ferdig is the Summit Professor of Learning Technologies and Professor of Instructional Technology at Kent State University.  


    KristinePytash_w80Kristine E. Pytash is an Associate Professor of Literacy Education at Kent State University.


    KarlKosko_w80Karl Kosko is an Assistant Professor of Math Education at Kent State University.


    JohnDunlosky_w85John Dunlosky is Professor of Psychology and Director of the SOLE Center at Kent State University. 


    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s 
    Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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    Using Google Slides to Make Vocabulary Stick

    By Meg Rishel
     | Mar 31, 2017

    2017-03-31_TT_x300After the 2005 publication of the National Reading Panel report, there has been a sense of urgency to accelerate student acquisition of academic vocabulary to support comprehension. We learned that “teaching words well means giving students multiple opportunities to develop word meanings and learn how words are conceptually related to one another in the texts they are studying” (Vacca & Vacca, 2016). Yet the vocabulary results from the 2009 and 2011 NAEP reading assessments demonstrate that “fourth- and eighth-grade vocabulary scores did not change significantly from 2009 to 2011.” If “vocabulary is the glue that holds stories, ideas and content together...making comprehension accessible for children” (Rupley, Logan & Nichols, 1998/99), then maybe our current strategies alone aren’t making vocabulary stick.

    Technology provides new ways for students to interact with information through multimodal learning opportunities. My colleague Kathy Krepps commented on how her students didn’t know what the dictionary was, and I realized that text is not the first resource our students access to seek information. Our third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students who have one-to-one Chromebook classrooms naturally say “OK Google” to find information, not to read but to watch and to listen.

    During this school year, Kathy and I have been working with teachers and students to develop our own elementary ELA curriculum. By using Google Slides, third-grade students create digital word collages, and fifth-grade students create a digital vocabulary notebooks as part of our vocabulary instruction. These tasks became easily differentiated for students with autism, who needed more nonverbal representations; for gifted and high-achieving students, who wanted to create new ways to represent meaning of higher academic vocabulary; and for struggling readers, who needed the repetition and guidance. In the following examples, you can see how students make meaningful connections to words through multimedia.

    Digital word collages

    Rishel Image 1_w300

    Third-grade students used a digital word collage to explore ways to connect to unknown words from a text read in a literature circle. One student began adding symbols and songs, and the comment feature allowed me to guide his thinking through questioning.

    Rishel Image 2_w300

    Another student used an image as a background and used the color and the font of the words to help show the word’s meaning. Two videos show multiple meanings of how a word is used in earth science and poetically in a song.

    Rishel Image 3_w300

    Digital literacy notebooks

    Rishel Image 4_w300

    Fifth-grade students created and presented teacher- or self-selected words for a given unit in digital vocabulary notebooks. Then they engaged in academic conversations to discuss why the images, videos, and fonts were chosen and if they agree or disagree with perspectives. Word generation vocabulary units make it easy to incorporate this strategy into current events or to help students make personal connections.

    Rishel Image 5_w300

    Rishel Image 6_w300

    Digital word collages and digital vocabulary notebooks are only two examples of how Google Slides can engage students in the instruction of academic vocabulary.

    Other classrooms have been inspired to find additional ways to use Google Slides for vocabulary instruction. Andrew Pry, a fourth-grade teacher, challenges his students to use a “bank” in Google Slides to share “great vocabulary” words they come across inside and outside of class.

    The multiple opportunities that students need to accelerate vocabulary acquisition exists in what they read and write but also in what we listen, speak, and view. Adding strategies like this can be the glue needed to make vocabulary stick.

    Rishel_w80Meg Rishel is an Instructional ELA Coach for Eastern York School District. You can follow her on Twitter.



    This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association’s 
    Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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