Literacy and ICT

Creating an environment for early literacy learning - one teacher’s experience

I wanted to create an environment for natural learning in my first-class classroom. Specifically, I wantedto create a print-rich environment in which to immerse my students. Iwanted to demonstrate reading and writing in ways that would lead to development of skills and strategies my students needed for independent reading and writing, and to create opportunities for them to approximate, take responsibility, and begin to use skills and strategies we studied.

Through use of the interactive whiteboard I modelled the ways in which readers and writers interact with text. I not only shared effective strategies with my students but also created an environment where students would interact with me and with others in their reading and creation of text .

Mini-lessons, guided reading, and writing tasks were possible through use of the board in my primary classroom. The interactive whiteboard allowed me to prepare lessons that included morning messages, cloze activities, vocabulary exercises, daily oral language sentences, phonetic activities, graphic organizers, and text narratives. With the board as a tool for literacy instruction, I was able to interact with the class, demonstrating and modelling, and manipulating what was on the board by touch.

Using the Internet along with the interactive whiteboard, I made use of video and audio clips to develop background knowledge and provide information on authors, characters, and settings, as well as appropriate background information on places and artifacts not found in our rural community. The video and audio clips provided sensory data, prompting engagement in the language and literacy lessons. While students were engaged with text and the board, I was able to monitor students’ understanding and adjust instruction as needed.

At the conclusion of work with the board—before and after reading of books and students’ written work—changes were saved to any print or graphic constructed, and copies of the group-constructed lesson text were printed so each student received a copy of the lesson for follow-up work in small groups with peers or the teacher. Such follow-up work could be reworked and reread, encouraging further engagement in the lesson. The “saved” work remained on the digital whiteboard for review and further follow-up if needed. Statements such as “Remember that day we worked on…” prompted the class to revisit, review, and reread text. Continual efforts were made to help students make connections between work done on and with the digital whiteboard and literacy activities done without the whiteboard.