Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Using ICT in Literacy Instruction: Tips for Teachers

Guest Post

Using ICT in Literacy Instruction: Tips for Teachers

There are many benefits to using ICT in education, especially math and literacy – ICT is a growing field, and related skills are required for many types of work now. Technological developments continue to increase the widespread applicability of ICT in a variety of venues, from the medical field to the arts and everything in between. Using it to teach literacy and other educational subjects can give students a head start on learning how to successfully use ICT in daily life, which could increase their chances of receiving higher education opportunities and jobs.

Teaching with ICT can also help students learn material more efficiently with a better rate of internalization – so they’ll be able to recall what they’ve learned from you about literacy when they need to use it. The connection between information and ICT skills is great for students, especially where literacy is involved. With both communication technology abilities and literacy knowledge, students will be better prepared to interact with the world in a successful and rewarding way. So if you’re thinking about integrating ICT into your literacy instruction methods, try using some of the following tips from a Newcastle University ICT research team to get started on the right track.

Get Comfortable with Educational ICT

ICT isn’t the tough subject you might imagine it to be – it’s just Information and Communication Technology. By breaking the title down into its three individual components, you’re simply using these tools to help you teach literacy: information, communication, and technology. Brainstorm to come up with ways to include these tools in your literacy lesson plans, such as using word processors, presentation software, spreadsheets, database software, desktop publishing, graphics software, and more. There are also many online tools that can be used in effective teaching, such as introducing students to Google Notebook to keep track of online research more easily.

Identify Ways ICT Can Contribute to Class Objectives

Now that you have some potential ways to use ICT in your classroom, check your objectives to make sure that ICT has something to contribute. Using new technology just to use it doesn’t make for effective teaching, so unless the ICT activity brings something unique and important to the table, don’t use it. Students can be easily confused by activities that don’t relate to the content you’re teaching. While many forms of educational ICT are relevant to almost any topic, it’s important to make sure that your ICT activities are on-target.

Assess Students’ Current ICT Skills

Do all of your students know how to use the technology you’re considering for the classroom? If not, you’ll need to teach them how to participate in educational ICT before you assign any activities. You can check for ICT skill by doing a simple exercise in class that uses the technology you’d like to fully implement later on. While students are trying to complete the task, walk around the room to make sure everyone is familiar with the technology.

Assess Available Equipment, Resources and Back-Up Options

You’ll need to make sure that you have the resources to use ICT in your classroom. For example, you’ll probably need a computer lab with at least a few computers – about three students can share one computer at a time if needed. It’s also helpful to evaluate which types of software are available to you, what kinds of licenses they have (single or multiple), and what your budget might allow in terms of new software or other types of technology. You can even collaborate with other teachers to see if you can share resources, propose purchases that would benefit the whole school, and get some practical educational ICT advice.

Integrate ICT Activities into Lesson Plans

Now, the last step is to modify your lesson plans to include ICT activities. This doesn’t always mean tacking on ICT as an afterthought or as a lifesaver if you run into unplanned down time. The best way to integrate it is to re-structure your lesson plan, using ICT as a focal point in the lesson content and methodology. Your students will be better able to connect ICT and literacy if your lesson plans incorporate both themes seamlessly.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and blogging about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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