The topic is adolescent literacy and how technology can assist students in four specific areas: background knowledge and vocabulary, comprehension strategies, synergies of reading and writing, and interest and motivation. Strategies to assist struggling readers in their high school years has been a “hot” topic in the area of literacy instruction and special education research for many years. More recently, appropriate technology tools have been identified by researchers as an effective remediation practice.
Background knowledge and vocabulary-When we read, we rely heavily on our background knowledge to understand and place the content into context. Good readers integrate knowledge as they read. The authors recommend electronic references (ThinkMap visual thesaurus is a good one) and video supports (The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives) to develop this area.
Comprehension strategies-Comprehension strategies are extremely important for struggling readers and students with learning disabilities. Good readers set clear goals for reading, evaluate, question and make predictions of what’s to come in the text. Explicitly teaching these strategies will increase a student’s comprehension of the text. The authors of this article note that today’s specialized software, with text-to-speech, notetaking, bookmarking, highlighting and drafting capabilities, can assist students to become active readers. We recommend Kurtzweil by Cambium Learning Technologies or WriteOnline by Crick Software.
Synergy of Reading and Writing-In addition to assisting students with comprehension, explicit instruction is needed for writing instruction as well. The authors also mention the ability to transfer writing skills into many different genres, such as personal narrative, expository, technical, etc. Recommended technology for explicit writing instruction are spell checkers, word prediction software, graphic organizer software, and voice recognition software. inov8’s picks: Inspiration by Inspiration Software, Dragon by Nuance and WordQ by Quillsoft.
Interest and Motivation-And finally, one of the most important areas in which technology plays a huge role…without interest or motivation adolescents will not become active, engaged learners. The authors mention digital storytelling, digital project-based learning and online graphic organizers as great tools to engage learners. We agree…and we want to also add that new technologies that utilize interactivity and touchscreens are effective learning tools to support students with learning disabilities. Check out BrainPop or MyHomework on the iPad or iPod Touch to see how engaging these tools can be!
For more literacy information, tools and resources specific to adolescents, see adlit.org