The British Columbia Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for Language Arts are broken into Oral Language, Reading and Viewing, and Writing and Representing. Technology helps my student meet these learning outcomes at their just right level.
Oral Language (Speaking and Listening)
My students listen and talk a lot in my classroom. To be honest I love listening to them share the thinking behind their learning. They use voice recording apps such as Draw and Tell to take pictures of their non digital work and talk about it. They use it for digital work too. My students love to add voice to a lot of what they do. They often put this thinking up on their individual blogs for the world to see.
We also use Skype/Google Hangout/Face Time for video conferencing to authentically practice our speaking and listening skills. It provides my students with authentic opportunities where they can ask their questions, and answer those being asked of them. They can discuss facts, and share ideas. Video conferencing has played a huge part in our Oral Language learning.
Recently we had a conversation with Duck Duck Moose, the makers of the Draw and Tell App. What was so powerful about this interaction is that Draw and Tell actually asked my students what they wanted to see added to their apps. My students took this question very seriously and told them. But what was most powerful is that Duck Duck Moose listened. They also asked my students to show them some of the projects they have created with their app and my students couldn't have been prouder. If that's not authentic speaking and listening what is?
Skype has provided my students the opportunity to read 1:1 with a teacher in Saskatchewan. Skype provides my students with a genuine audience who listens, and provides genuine feedback.
One of the benefits of having my students blog is that they are keen to read and respond to each others writing. They are also reading blog posts both in school and while OUT of school not because they have to but because they want to. Relationships are growing through blogging and commenting, yet reading and viewing skills are also being reinforced in authentic, meaningful ways.
Writing and Representing
One of the biggest changes I've noticed with the increased access to technology in my classroom is that my students are writing way more than ever before. I have been better able to provide them with more choices for writing and they are thriving in all these choices. Their blogs in particular, are their greatest personal collection of writing. Technology has opened up my class to more ways to share their story.
My class's two favourite story writing apps are Book Creator and My Story. They have used book creator a few times now, but most recently for a collaborative writing project with high school students. There are several reasons why I like this app for writing. It allows my students to create professional books, it allows my students to add voice to their stories, and it is easy to write collaboratively with this app.
My class also uses Web 2.0 tools such as Voki and Storybird to write with. They use basic word processing tools to create books. My students use Skitch and Pic Collage to create visual stories.
Recently my students used their personal blogs to thank Elizabeth Schoonmaker for sending us a copy of her book Square Cat. While yes, we could have mailed her thank you notes, this was a much quicker and just as meaningful way to let her know we were thankful.