California Educator

December/January 2022

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3 Tech Tools to Bolster Literacy These simple tools can be used in or outside of the classroom By Megan Allen T H E F I R S T T I M E I witnessed remote learning to teach reading was in a second grade classroom. As I walked into the room, I saw a student in front of a computer, headphones on, talking and laughing. The teacher explained, "She's Skyping with my mother, who is a retired teacher in Texas. My mother hosts a daily word workstation in my class over Skype." My jaw dropped. This was 2012, long before Zoom was common- place in our public schools. But it broke down a mental barrier for me with teaching reading, leading to deeper thinking around how we can use technology to help kids learn in authentic and meaningful ways. I now lead a team of certified teachers who work both in our physi- cal space and over Zoom. Here are some of the ways they use tech to teach reading: 1. The recording function on a tablet or smartphone. Sometimes the best tools are the ones right in front of us. I have found this piece of technology useful in both virtual and face-to-face teaching, using it for audio-journaling, for peer and teacher feedback, and as a way for students to reflect on their own reading fluency. • Audio-journal: Sometimes the physical act of writing can impede a student's ability to share their brilliance with an audience or even just get ideas down on paper. Using the audio-recording function offers students a way to record their thinking with fewer barriers. They can brainstorm writing ideas, record reflections on their latest read, or spin a tall tale inspired by the spider they saw on the way to lunch. • Feedback: The recording function can give a fresh update to stu- dent feedback or let students give feedback to peers. For example, Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash 50 Teaching & Learning T E C H T I P S

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