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Meeting Common Core With Technology

by Marilyn E. Moore
 | Jul 10, 2015

42015-15+-466385421The International Literacy Association’s position statement on new literacies and 21st century technologies includes students’ rights to standards and assessments that include new literacies. The focus of this article is to look at how digital technologies can support literary instruction relevant to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CCSS for English Language Arts lists three categories of reading standards: (1) Reading: Literature, (2) Reading: Informational Text, and (3) Reading: Foundational Skills.

Giving students practice in wide reading

In Reading Today,Elfreida Hiebert reported, “The inclusion of a standard on text complexity represents the most unique of several distinguishing features of the CCSS for English Language Arts.” She further reports that because of the strong relationship between vocabulary and comprehension, teachers need to conduct vocabulary lessons of critical vocabulary prior to reading.

In collaborative work with my colleague Dana L. Grisham, resources for integrating technologies into vocabulary and comprehension instruction were described in the California Reader (2014). Some recommended digital resources include the following:

  • Many e-books have text-to-speech (TTS) features to enhance key content.
  • eVoc Strategies for Teaching Vocabulary can be fostered using digital tools such as Wordle and Wordsift; both tools develop visual displays through word mapping.
  • Electronic children’s magazines such as Weekly Reader and National Geographic Kids are great sources of informational text about current events.
  • Other useful portals for research-based lesson ideas include ReadWriteThink and Reading Rockets.

A 2015 list of diverse books, as well as lists from 1996–2014, can be found at All of these books were selected by the International Literacy Association’s Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group. The collection includes theme-based books involving characters from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds and a range of family structures, as well as story lines that deal with identity issues related to gender and sexuality.

Focusing on comprehension

In their chapter about comprehension in the Handbook of Research on New Literacies, Bridget Dalton and C. Patrick Proctor write, “To read with understanding, the reader must be able to decode the words with a sufficient number of words automatized to allow for the fluency essential to comprehension.”

If the learner doesn’t understand a passage, the following digital tools and instructional strategies may help to enhance comprehension:

  • TTS and Synthetic Voice with which text is read aloud at the word, sentence, or passage level.
  • Vocabulary links provided in digital novels can lead to a graphic, video, or animation that elaborates on the meaning of a word.
  • Vocabulary supports on the Internet such as an online dictionary, thesaurus, or encyclopedia extend opportunities for students to explore word meaning.
  • In their The Reading Teacher article entitled “Internet Inquiry: Fundamental Competencies for Online Comprehension,” Tara Kingsley and Susan Tancock outline several instructional supports to help students select a topic, sort through a variety of media formats (text, graphics, audio, tags, bookmarks, and hyperlinks), build understanding across these formats, and communicate what they’ve learned to others.

Giving students practice in collaborative writing and Common Core assessments

Writing is also an important component of literacy, especially argumentative writing and writing about texts students have read. Online resources providing information about the two consortia that have created new assessments of these skills include Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

In addition, in her article entitled “Multimodal Composition and the Common Core State Standards”, Bridget Dalton identifies multimodal composition as a digital written product that includes printed word, images, sound, and movement. She gives examples of how teachers can use multimodal assignments to help students develop skills that CCSS identify as important to 21st-century literacy.

CCSS encourages teachers to focus on reading texts deeply, writing for digital environments collaboratively, and reading and writing nonfiction texts. The digital tools and texts in this article help teachers foster new literacies as well as prepare students for the demands of CCSS assessments.

Marilyn E. Moore, EdD, is a professor at National University in La Jolla, CA, and serves as faculty lead for the Reading Program.


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