Engaging our 21st century learners: teaching tips for five free-n-easy Web 2.0 apps

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Date: May-June 2014
From: Childhood Education(Vol. 90, Issue 3)
Publisher: Association for Childhood Education International
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,329 words
Lexile Measure: 1370L

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It is 8:30 a.m. when Mrs. Davis' 1st-Grade Superstars at Neil Armstrong Elementary stream into class. Scotty heads for the computer station to finish a story he had started the previous day. Alyssa rushes up to Mrs. Davis to tell her about the book called Ballerina Fun that she and her mom had written and read together. "Mrs. Davis," she begs, "can we read the story that me and my mom wrote last night? It's about a little girl and a curse and about not wanting to be a ballet dancer 'cause she wanted to be a warrior and...." "That sounds like a wonderful story, Alyssa," Mrs. Davis says. "You can read it to us after specials, okay?"

The previous day, Mrs. Davis had created a class account and introduced her hungry learners to an online book-making tool called Storybird. She and her budding writers collaborated on a six-page book called The Hungry Alien. Within days, Mrs. Davis' published authors add their creations to the Storybird library for all to read. These young learners are pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and producing their own stories that others can comment on or just code with a "heart." In a more and more connected and collaborating world, 1st-graders in Australia are taking turns with 1stgraders in America to co-author books.

Mrs. Davis' 21st-century 1st-graders reach for the stars as they read and write with engaging and free Web 2.0 presentation apps like Storybird, Voki, PhotoPeach, Glogster, Tagxedo, among others. They explore artists, become inspired, and write their own stories. They choose from a variety of avatars and backgrounds to create characters that speak to them. The words they type into their Vokis come to life when they publish their stories, summaries, or mini lessons. Their Glogster posters (Glogs) play music as readers follow moving arrows and read text. Their Tagxedo word clouds transform into the shape of their message.

The need for teaching young students reading and writing skills using digital technologies is growing. For example, development of technology skills is woven throughout Florida's Sunshine State Standards. Specifically, according to the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (Florida Department of Education, 2010), for students to become literate persons in the 21st century, they "must learn to use technology effectively to be prepared to live and work in our complex, information-rich world" (Florida Department of Education, 2012, p. 1). The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), implemented in the 2013-14 academic year in the lower elementary grades and in 2014-15 throughout K-12 in Florida's public schools, also stress the need for students to be technologically literate in order to meet the challenges of living in a complex digital world. This is expected to be achieved not by treating technology as a separate content area but rather by infusing technological competencies into the content standards (Staff Development for Educators, n.d., para. 1). Therefore, as PK-12 school districts in Florida move closer to adopting and implementing the national Common Core standards, technology integration in the curriculum is being...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A369128881