Unite for Literacy

I had an interesting conversation a couple of days ago about the limitation of tablets, in this case iPads, in the classroom with a teacher-librarian friend.  It wasn’t something that I’d thought about before but it went to reinforce a few things in my mind:

  • someone needs to be constantly driving the ship and pushing good ideas;
  • professional learning needs to be continuous;
  • you can’t just drop and run with technology;
  • and, importantly, don’t underestimate the power of a good teacher-librarian.

The message was essentially that there can be an “app for that” mentality with the use of the technology.  We’ve heard that a million times but, when you dig a little deeper, you see that there’s an underlying message.

  • only applications installed by the district can be used (and perhaps with a locked down device, that’s legitimate);
  • there are a finite list of things that can be done;
  • everything provided is deemed good and you’re not encouraged to try other things.

In this case, we were talking about literacy and the power of electronic books.  There’s no doubt that an electronic book has the potential for the device to do more for the book that paper can.  Of course, the fallacy here is that it ignores the fact that the greatest literacy device is the imagination of the reader.  And, if there must be an app for everything, once you’ve read the book, it’s done.  What’s next?  What can the child do at home?

There’s another important app that’s missing in all this – the web browser.  By browsing to the right site, lots of possibilities exist!

That’s where the Unite for Literacy site shines.

These days, we’re all so familiar with the concept of the bookshelf as a launch pad for digital materials and it works the same here – on every device I could lay my hands on.  (Well, a computer, a phone, and a tablet…)

The site has a wonderfully rich collection of books that can be filtered with the graphics at the top of the bookshelf.  The terms of use are incredibly friendly and easy to understand.  Kudos for that – why can’t all digital resources follow their lead?

In addition to clicking or tapping your way through the story, there’s an option to have the story narrated.  Nice.  The technology ends there.  Nothing swooshes or moves or animates.  The reader’s imagination is left to take over.

Showing the power of digital, check out the narration language menu.

I’ll bet your mind is spinning with ideas now.  It’s only the narration that changes; the text of the book remains in English.

Consider the newest classroom members who might be on their way to learning English.  All of a sudden, they could become the expert in the room as the book is read in a language they recognize.

It truly is the tip of the iceberg.

If students have access to the technology at home, they can continue with the stories – sharing their abilities or just enjoying stories with family.  Yes, there’s an app for this – just not the kind you might expect.

I know how I’m planning to use it.

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Please share them in the comments?

OTR Links 02/28/2016

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.