This article is the ninth in a series that summarizes and reflects upon the Ontario Ministry of Education 2009 document Me Read? And How!
The ninth strategy advocated for improving boys’ reading:
Get the Net
Generally, students enjoy engaging with technology to the point that they don’t feel like they are doing school work. Technology can also be assistive to students who have disabilities, thus, giving them independence and opportunity to have “academic equality.” When students are engaged in the learning, there are less behaviour problems and they put more effort into their work.
There’s a variety of software programs that can be used; for example, there are desktop publishing, presentation programs, music creation applications, reading support programs, and visual learning software. Online tools can also be fun to meet literacy goals: multimedia, audiobooks, wikis and blogs. Because boys are often visual-spatial learners, educational software should be used to help boys learn to read. Audiobooks allow students to access books that are above their reading ability, thus enabling them to engage in oral discussions at their level of comprehension. Reading newspapers online, listening to podcasts, and engaging in online discussion are other technology that can be used to create differentiated instruction learning experiences. Online blogs and wikis can be used to get students writing; video recording could be used to record ideas before writing. I have had the opportunity to use a Moodle, and this course management system is extremely versatile; I’ve yet to conceive an idea that I couldn’t do on the Moodle.
Venues for computers and gaming activities in the school are also recommended in the booklet. For example, in grade ten Civics, there’s a new game available called Civic Life that is a virtual game to teach students about civic life. Using these technologies, makes school a little more like their environment outside of school—that environment that they love.
The computer with a Smartboard can be used to model learning, present the learning using multimedia, multi-textual, and collaborative modes of learning, and, in turn, computer-related attitudes and skills that are critical to their future are taught. It’s important to consider how the use of technology pairs with critical thinking. Critical thinking should be at the forefront of planning when deciding to use technologies. In what way will students be challenged to think critically?
In an grade 11 college English I teach, myself and another teacher in our department, developed the course to focus more on non-fiction, short reading selections, and an Internet Unit. During
that unit, we study video games and the students create their own video games. Even though we plan the assignment in class without the use of computers until the good copy, the students are engaged in the activity because of their interest in video games.
What technology tools could you use to support the learning of students while encouraging critical thinking skills?
Next Boys’ Literacy Strategy: #10 – Assess for Success