Technology has a wide variety of uses in the classroom and can be used for a wide variety of subject areas. When used as a supplement to classroom instruction, technology can be a great asset to students and teachers. These technologies have been more successful in some subject areas than others. Experts have noticed that for reading assistance and instructions, technology has been slow to catch on. This presentation examines three articles that study different technology options available for learning and teaching reading. In “Technology Infusion in Success for All: Reading Outcomes for First Graders” (Chambers et al.), the authors examine embedded multimedia and computer-assisted tutoring, both of which are approaches that combine technology with beginning reading. In “Assistive Technology in the Reading Clinic : Its Emerging Potential” (McKenna and Walpole), the authors examine assistive technology in the reading clinic setting. In “Exploring the New Literacies Using Two New Approaches: The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading and Renzulli Learning” (Reis and Field), the authors explore the combination of two new programs, The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading and a Internet-program called Renzulli Learning.
<ul><li>Computers are widely in education for activities that are not part of the core instruction, such as word processing and reference. However, technology does not seem to be revolutionizing education the way it was once thought it might. Technology has been limited on how it can teach beginning reading, but the authors of “Technology Infusion in Success for All: Reading Outcomes for First Graders” have seen positive effects from some programs that have infused “technology into beginning reading instruction: embedded multimedia and computer-assisted tutoring” (Chambers et al., 2008, p. 2). </li></ul><ul><li>Embedded multimedia is brief video content that is incorporated into the teacher’s lessons. This approach gives students a moving picture to link to help them remember their lesson. There are some reasons that multimedia works. The videos offer students moving pictures to help them remember (Chambers et al, 2008, p. 2). Memory systems often get over-loaded with verbal information but the memory system can still use picture information to learn the information required (Chambers et al., 2008, p. 3). Embedded multimedia is not beneficial by itself. When a student just watches a video without instruction, nothing is gained. The authors advise that children apply and discuss what they learn from the videos. Teachers can also gain pedagogical insight from embedded media. These videos will not replace teacher instruction, but teachers can use them for models of content and processes (Chambers et al., 2008, p. 3). </li></ul><ul><li>The Success for All Program at Johns Hopkins University has added embedded multimedia to its reading program. It was intended to give beginning readers “…compelling, memorable demonstrations of letter sounds, sound-blending strategies, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies” (Chambers et al., 2008, p. 4). In particular, it was thought that English language learners could benefit from this addition. The authors studied the embedded multimedia strategy and found significant results on Woodcock Word Attack Scale (Chambers et al., 2008, p. 5). </li></ul>
Success For All also uses computer-assisted tutoring to help students learn to read. The program that they use, Alphie’s Alley, is used “…to increase program fidelity by assisting tutors and students in each of the three phases of tutoring, planning, instruction, and assessment” (Chambers et al., 2008, p. 5). It also uses embedded multimedia to increase student motivation and learning. Alphie’s Alley helps both the students and the tutors. For the students, it performs an assessment which tailors a program that contains multimedia screens with tasks. These tasks help students build their reading skills. For the tutors, it provides tutor training, monitors student progress, and provides them with strategies for adapting instruction. These resources on Alphie’s Alley gives the tutors as much or as little support as they need (Chambers et al, 2008, p. 6). The authors evaluated the combination of embedded multimedia and Alphie’s Alley and thought they would see that students that used these supplemental technologies would perform better on standardized tests. They examined two schools that already used the Success for All program, therefore the only difference between the two groups was the use of technology. The groups they examined were high poverty and mostly non-white, along with a large percentage of English learners. Their studies found students who received the experimental technology did better on the posttest and the authors conclude that their study provides support that computer-assisted tutoring is beneficial in teaching reading (Chambers et al., 2008, 6).
<ul><li>I am a big fan of technology, but I have always dismissed the use of videos and TV in the classroom as a waste of time. I have never seen a teacher use videos for anything but watching a movie about a book they have read in class and I don’t see the benefit of that. However, the videos that the authors of this article discuss seem like they could be a benefit in the classroom. The way they are described in the article, they are cute, quick, skits that kids will be interested in watching and will gives students cues that will help them remember important reading strategies. I think that the key to this being successful is not just using the videos by themselves, which might be either a temptation for some teachers, or they just might not have the curriculum to go with the videos. I would hope that teachers would use the videos only as a supplement to their lessons and also use the videos to model some of their teaching strategies. The idea of embedded multimedia would only work if executed carefully and properly, otherwise it is a waste of everyone’s time. </li></ul><ul><li>I was surprised that the authors mentioned that this study support the use of computers in teaching reading more than previous studies have. Maybe this is because the other studies were examining technology that simply was not very good at aiding in the teaching of learning. This study was limited to two high-poverty schools so maybe these students would respond well to any kind of help they could get. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Traditional reading clinics have been slow to embrace and implement technology that can help students master reading. The authors of “Assistive Technology in the Reading Clinic: Its Emerging Potential” believe that assistive technology has the potential to assess and evaluate reading skills and to provide guidance to educators (McKenna and Walpole, 2008, p. 140). </li></ul><ul><li>Assistive technology covers a wide spectrum of electronic tools. This includes a variety of computer applications, the Internet, and other video, graphics and videos. When it comes to children with disabilities, assistive technology also includes any piece of electronic equipment that is used to increase functional capabilities (McKenna and Walpole, 2008, p. 140). There is a wide variety of electronic media available to help a wide variety of issues. </li></ul><ul><li>In reading clinics, there are three applications that are commonly used, and while they do have some merits, there are also some complaints. Text-to-speech technology are good for improving comprehension but do little good for students with ADD. Speech recognition software has a spotty accuracy record. Children with severe trouble spelling are often referred to a spellchecker, but this can be limiting. There are other assistive technology options for literacy, and the authors of this article say that there should be a protocol available to clinicians to help them evaluate and implement these choices. The authors provide central questions that might be useful to educators (McKenna and Walpole, 2008, p. 142). </li></ul>
<ul><li> One question the authors discuss is how assistive technology can be used as scaffold for learning readers. They suggest that “…a struggling reader will gradually approach the point which AT application is no longer needed” and that eventually the difference between progress with and without assistive technology would be not significant (McKenna and Walpole, 2008, p. 142). Therefore, it is important for educators and clinicians to investigate whether the assistive technology in question is removable without impact. Additionally, the authors point out that if an assistive technology is continued after the student has exceeded the usefulness of the technology, the student could take the low road and lessen his or her chance for success. Another issue to consider is whether or not the assistive technology can be used as a crutch. In some cases, students only use the assistive technology for complex literary skills but fail to increase individual skills. Educators must consider the balance between tradition clinical intervention and assistive technology. They state that: “If … reading performance is enhanced by AT but growth without AT does not occur, then conventional intervention is called for in addition to the AT” (McKenna and Walpole, 2008, p. 143). The authors question what should be examined first: the assistive technology or traditional intervention methods? Also, perhaps reading clinics and school should have different priorities. </li></ul><ul><li> Hypermedia applications provide all readers, regardless of skill level with equal access to literacy. However, this can sometimes lead to students becoming overwhelmed by the options available to them from assistive technology. In turn, students may have trouble knowing how to use the assistive technology, thus slowing down the learning process (McKenna and Walpole, 2008, p. 144). </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers and clinicians must learn how to evaluate assistive technology. They should take into account the questions that the authors have presented to make sure assistive technology is the best-suited to the students to which it will be catered. Assistive technology is best used for reading learning if students do not use it as a crutch and can get the best use out if it. </li></ul>
<ul><li>When considering using assistive technologies, teachers and clinicians should not just use whatever is available to them. They should evaluate their students’s needs and make sure that they will gain something from using the applications. Reading this article has shed on light on just some of the many things that an educator must consider when selecting assistive technology. I also had no idea all of the different kinds of assistive technologies that were out there for teaching and tutoring. Also, within each assistive technology there are sometimes many options that can be set to really make the learning process most efficient. It seems to me that with all of the options available teachers and clinicians should weigh everything and make sure that they use exactly what they need for their students. </li></ul>
<ul><li>There is not a lot of research on whether or not the Internet technology help increase a learner’s fluency and reading comprehension. This article explores two programs that, when used in combination, strive to improve a learner’s reading fluency and combination: The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading (SEM-R) and Renzulli Learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Renzulli Learning is an online program that provides students with activities that matches their learning styles and interests to enrich their learning process. It is based on the Enrichment Triad Model and Schoolwide Enrichment Model, both of which were devloped by Renzulli and Reis. Renzulli Learning uses a three step procedure. Step one develops a user profile for the student using an assessment based on academic skills, interests, and learning styles. In step two, the program uses the profile to provide the student with carefully selected online activities in 14 categories including field trips, independent study, and creativity training. Step three takes all of the activity from the student’s record and produces a Total Talent Portfolio to be viewed by parents and teachers. </li></ul><ul><li>The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading is based off of Renzulli’s Enrichment Triad Model, with emphasis on the enjoyment of reading, “…with a focus on planned, systematic enrichment experiences” (Reis and Field, 2008, p. 31). The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading has two core focuses. One focus is on providing “…challenging, self-selected reading, accompanied by instruction in high order thinking and strategy skills” (Reis and Field, 2008, p. 30). This focus challenges students to read slightly above their reading level. The second focus is “…differentiation of instruction and reading content, coupled with more challenging reading experiences and advanced opportunities for metacognition and self-regulated reading” (Reis and Field, 2008, p. 30). </li></ul><ul><li>There are three phases of the SEM-R. Phases one involves teacher reading aloud to students and then posing higher order questions. The second phase is when students self-select books, with guidance from the teacher towards books slightly above the student’s reading level. In phase three, the students engage in enrichment activities, meant to pique the student’s interest in reading. These activities include writing activities, buddy centers, book discussion groups, and exploring technology. During phase three, students can use Renzulli Learning for enrichment (Reis and Field, 2008, p. 31) </li></ul>
<ul><li>Standardized test scores are decreasing, and the authors note that 50% of high school graduates do not have the reading skills required to succeed in higher education. These numbers are even worse for minority groups and those that live in poverty. Luckily, the studies on Renzulli Learning and SEM-R are showing promise. In a survey of teachers who use Renzulli Learning, teachers generally agreed that Renzulli Learning helps their students become more proficient readers. In a study of Renzulli Learning, after 16 weeks of using the program, students demonstrated notably higher skills in reading comprehension, fluency, and social studies achievement than those who did not use the program. In one study of SEM-R, students used the program for 12 weeks. This group of students showed significantly higher reading fluency and also general interest in reading (Reis and Field, 2008, p. 33) </li></ul><ul><li>SEM-R and Renzulli Learning help students increase their fluency and comprehension, motivate students to read what they enjoy, and to enrich their learning experience with activities that other activities related to their reading (Reis and Field, 2008, p. 33) </li></ul>
<ul><li>This article surprised me because, like all the others, it mentions that there is very little support or research on how technology helps students learn to read. This article points out that SEM-R and Renzulli focus less on students’s weakness and more on their interests and strengths, which to me seems like a good way to approach things. Why not use whatever a student likes to get them to read more? It makes so much sense! These two system also emphasize differentiated content and curriculum, which would be hard for a classroom teacher to implement without technology. This article also points out that these two programs get kids interested in reading. I think that is really key because what good is it to be good at something if you don’t enjoy doing it? </li></ul>
<ul><li>Technology plays an important role in the lives of educators and students and this importance will continue to increase. Educators must use this technology to best help their students academically. Research on how technology can help students learn how to read is still very slim. However, there is a lot of technology out there that strives to help readers. How educators select and implement these technologies is important. These articles suggested to me that there are a lot of fine examples of how technology can not help readers but also help readers read more, broaden their reading scope, and also further their learning through what they read. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Chambers, B., Slavin, R. E., Madden, N. A., Abrami, P. C., Tucker, B. J., Cheung, A., et al. (2008). Technology infusion in success for all: reading outcomes for first graders. The Elementary School Journal , 109 (1), 1-15. doi: 10.1086/592364. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Mckenna, M. C., & Sharon Walpole. (2007). Assistive technology in the reading clinic: Its emerging potential. Reading Research Quarterly , 42 (1), 140-145. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Reis, S. M., & Field, G. B. (2007). Exploring the new literacies using two new approaches: The Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading and Renzulli Learning. The NERA Journal , 43 (1), 30-35. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>