“language arts” are those language-based processes by with we think, learn, and
communicate (Roybler, 2009). At the elementary level, instruction in the
language arts focuses primarily on developing the fundamental components of
literacy (e.g., the skills of reading, writing, listening and
speaking). If students do not receive a firm grounding in language arts from
which to connect to the basics of reading it is believed they may have subsequent
trouble with grammatically correct writing and spelling
intent of the following paper is to first examine the objectives and approach
typically taken in the instruction of language arts at the elementary level and
from that develop a plan to integrate the use of technology to allow students
to connect to other areas of the school wide curriculum to improve instruction
and ensure that the foundation has been set for students to reach the literacy
standards for English / Language Arts as proposed by the National Council for
Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA).
Technology integration curriculum and instruction in The Language Arts
Identifying the four key components of the curriculum and language arts instruction. A previously noted in the Abstract of this paper, at the elementary level instruction in language arts focuses primarily on developing the four fundamental components of literacy ergo the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. The study and mastery of the Language Arts lays the vital foundation for exploring and understanding of all other subjects i.e. Math, Science, Social Studies, et al.
An evaluation of the curriculum and typical methods used in the instruction of Language Arts with respect to the technology already used. The integration of technology into education must take place across the spectrum of curriculum and instruction in order to be most effective. Creating lasting change within the complex system of education today this will require a strategy that targets several components simultaneously over a sustained period of time.
As made clear by preceding quote from The National Academies: Advisors to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine, currently within a typical elementary curriculum and subsequent classroom instruction technology is not widely implemented if at all.
The following phonics based approach to the instruction of the Language Arts in a typical elementary level classroom further highlights the lack of the use of technology.
· Instruction that focuses on what particular letters represents which sounds and symbols.
· Visual association via picture cards that connect phonemes contained in the picture with words.
· Teachers explain and demonstrate how to blend individual sounds and letters to form individual words.
· Students’ view and sort word cards on the basis of common letter forms and established spelling patterns.
· Students’ view and recite text with repetitions of both high-frequency words and different words with to establish common spelling patterns and develop visual recognition.
· Students’ write dictated words and sentences that contain aforementioned spelling patterns of high-frequency words.
Identifying (five) areas in the curriculum unit where technology integration is possible Given the financial infeasibility of sole instruction in the use of technology, the inclusion of technology in other academic areas is one of the surest ways of increasing the visibility of technology in schools today. Traditionally most technology integration occurs within the study of math and science but it is my belief that technology needs to be integrated across the entire spectrum of the curriculum and classroom instruction at the very beginning of a student’s school career. This constructivist oriented approach is used in support of Gardner’s multiple intelligence theories and it aids students and teachers in discovering their respective teaching and learning styles, by ensuring that students can take advantage of the unique tools of technology so as to become technologically literate and abstract that skills to other areas of knowledge. Without that opportunity the sizable inequities already present in education will continue to mount and add to the ever widening “digital divide”.
Therefore guided by the aforementioned the following are the most important and broad areas where technology could be integrated as part of both the school wide curriculum and in support of instruction in the Language Arts.
· Instructional Strategies and Planning
· Evaluation / Assessment
· Language Skills Development
· Literacy Development
· The Process Approach to Writing
Identifying (five) areas, strategies, tools, and rationale that can allow for the integration of technology into the curriculum and instruction in the Language Arts. The following chart (Figure 1) was created to show the linkage between the identified broad (five) areas, strategies, tools, and rationale to integrate technology into the curriculum and instruction in the Language Arts. This general overview will serve as the basis for a specific plan of integration.
specific plan based on the identified strategies and tools for integrating
technology into the curriculum an instruction of a unit of language arts
The strategy to integrate
technology into the curriculum and the Language Arts unit Fortunately
there are a variety of established tools that can facilitate the integration of
technology into the curriculum and language arts instruction. The strategy and overall
approach proposed here is the adoption of a uniform platform tool that utilizes
a blended approach between traditional classroom instruction,
instructional software, and online resources. At the instructional level it
that will be used to address the language arts in the areas of Language Skill
Development, Literacy Development, and The Process Approach to Writing. Further this tool can be
used to link to other subjects that traditionally use technology more readily
such as math, science, and social studies. It is important to note the use of
this technology and technology based tools are meant to augment the study of
language arts and other areas of study by providing additional resources of
study, offering the ability to engage in cross discipline projects, and
monitoring student progress directly, it is not intended to completely supplant
all of the traditional teaching methods but to compliment them.
varied and cost effective nature of using a uniform platform approach that
utilizes a variety of interrelated tools allows schools and teachers the
freedom to determine what works best for their particular plan. If a school can’t
afford software they can use the online tools available as a supplement to
traditional methods or alternatively mount a school wide technology initiative
complete with the opportunity to take home software and further participate in
vital additional piece to this strategy is the establishment of an extended
inclusive online learning community that allows both teachers and parents to
participate in the learning process in support of overall inclusion of
technology across the school curriculum with regard to Instructional Strategies
and Evaluations / Assessments. If schools are not willing to incorporate an
additional online resource in support of instruction across the spectrum of the
school then the incorporation of technology, as previously noted, may leave
students with a disjointed view and ability where technology is concerned.
What tools are to be used for
technology integration across the school’s curriculum and the instruction of
Language Arts? Boost!
The Longman Integrated Skill Series is a fully integrated skills approach that
contains age appropriate themes and offers the option of cross-curricular
topics. Boost focuses on the use of a blended approach between instruction
software and online resources to teach writing, vocabulary, listening skills,
reading, speaking, and grammar. It is readily scalable and can be used in
elementary levels on through to junior high school level curriculum and
instruction if desired.
the use of its unique blended approach Boost
utilizes a fully integrated skills method that can be tailored to meet and / or
address all of the NCTE/IRA Standards for English / Language Arts and English
Language Learning. The use of Boost’s blended approach inherently excels at
addressing the following standards directly,
3. Students apply a wide range of
strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate
texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other
writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word
and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence
structure, context, graphics).
Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style,
vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different
Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different
elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g.,
punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create,
discuss print and non-print texts.
Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own
for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information) (http://www.ncte.org/standards)
the whole the use of the Boost system is held in high regard and is in use by
several school district across the nation, perhaps most notably and extensively
in California. Clearly by its interactive nature Boost can be used in support
of constructivist learning theories by both teachers and students. Boost’s main
advantage is its integrated approach that uses visual references and online
based interactive media to enhance the learning process and in doing so aids in
addressing the varied intelligences (as suggested by Gardner and others) of the
How will the school / teacher implement technology into the curriculum? There
are many factors to consider when considering the integration of technology
into the curriculum and instruction of language arts. First and foremost
schools and “teachers need to understand the importance of expanding the
definitions of literacy, exploring new instructional practices, making
decisions on keyboarding instructions, creating social learning environments,
working with diverse learners, motivating students, (Roblyer, 2009) and how all
of that will be reflected in the choices for integrating technology now an in
the future. As noted the use of technology can only be truly effective if it is
implemented across the breadth and width of the learning community.
Learning to read is an exciting time for children and
their families. For teachers and parents alike, helping children in learning to
read establishes and important foundation for their future academic education.
Learning to read requires that the student be guided through a series of
initial steps that will form the grounding that will be applied to higher
ordered tasks and ultimately reading. Trying to teach the steps out of sequence
can inadvertently frustrate children (and first time readers) so it is important
to use techniques that help students connect with the information.
today typically start with the foundation of learning to read in Kindergarten
using a Phonics based method. Phonics is the method most commonly used in the
instruction of the Language Arts whereby students are shown how to connect the
sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters (e.g., that the
sound /k/ can be represented by c, k, ck or ch spellings) which in turn teaches
them to blend the sounds of letters together to produce approximate
pronunciations of unknown words. Teaching students to read English using
phonics requires students to learn the connections between letter patterns and
the sounds they represent. Phonics instruction at the Kindergarten level requires
the teacher to provide students with a core body of information about phonics
rules, or patterns.
the elementary school level the use of what is termed “embedded phonics” is
incorporated as a continuation of Phonics instruction. Embedded phonics is the
type of phonics instruction used in whole language programs. Although phonics
skills are de-emphasized in whole language programs, some teachers include
phonics "mini-lessons" in the context of literature. Short lessons
are included based on phonics elements that students are having trouble with,
or on a new or difficult phonics pattern that appears in a class reading
assignment. The focus on meaning is generally maintained, but the mini-lesson
provides some time for focus on individual sounds and the symbols that
represent them. Embedded phonics differs from other methods in that the
instruction is always in the context of literature rather than in separate
lessons, and the skills to be taught are identified opportunistically rather
than systematically (Wikipedia, 2009).
due to the audio / visual nature already used in the study of phonics and the
extended instruction of embedded phonics technology is uniquely suited to
benefit this area of instruction. Boost uses a variety of tools for both
teachers and students that offers consistent support and repetition that
promotes a steady progression in the language arts for the beginner to the
intermediate level student and beyond using what it terms “Graphic Grammar”.
Graphic Grammar makes use of a system of visuals and graphics coupled with
additional audio cues to reinforce the memorization and use of grammatical
concepts. It is designed to be simple and clear and perhaps most importantly
flexible enough to include different levels of ability and interest using
cultural topics and media, project based problem solving, and real time
revision and evaluation capabilities. Teachers are free to incorporate the
varied tools of Boost however they see fit, either online on in class via
software, or both.
through the adoption of Boost schools and teachers are afforded ready made
curriculum suggestions and projects that can be tailored to meet a particular
Language Art standard. Boost is what is referred to as “tightly-leveled “ in
that each area of instruction relates to one another ensuring a smooth and
steady progression for students and teachers. The following chart is an example
of this concept from the Boost web site. Note how the lessons are correlated to
work on all of the areas that foster literacy simultaneously.
The adaptability of Boost fosters a
more autonomous approach to learning and elevates the cumbersome need for
interface instruction or software installation for both student and teacher.
This addresses those teachers and schools who may not have a high level of
technological proficiency. Boost’s interface is engaging without be challenging
or intimidating and allows the students and teachers to have a common dialogue
from which to study it and allows students to learn at there own pace with the
ability to continue or review the classroom work at home.
that in mind in conjunction with the use of Boost schools and teachers must be
willing to create an online resource in tandem with the use of Boost in class
instruction. This could be accomplished in a variety of ways depending on the
resources of the school. The most common way being through the use of
Blackboard or alike tools or by an interactive component on the schools own
website. The key issue is that the online community is offered as a support
mechanism for Instructional Strategies and Evaluation / Assessments that
creates an inclusive culture around the use of technology not centered on it. For
instructional strategies and planning teachers can use technology to plan their
lessons and share that them with parents for continued or additional study at
home and additionally offer homework that provides links to more information.
This important advantage of technology allows for the development and fostering
of a learning community that goes beyond traditional definitions.
important aspect of creating an inclusive community is parents and students can
see how they are being assessed and evaluated. Today, due in no small part to
NCLB, assessment is of utmost importance at all levels of education. In this
case parents are afforded the opportunity to see what the school has
established as its benchmarks for students. It also offers opportunities for
parents to see the method used to evaluate and assess their children and the
scope of learning that is taking place in pursuit of established outcomes at
various stages and can expedite communication if concerns arise.
blueprint of how the use of technology can be integrated into the instruction
of the Language Arts. The
following graphic was created to show how technology could be used in the
instruction of Language Arts using Boost for Language Skills Development,
Literacy Development, and Process approach to writing and also featured is the
adjoining support that could be integrated into the class from the school using
Blackboard for Instruction Strategies and Planning and Evaluation and
sample of how the use of technology can be used across the curriculum and be
integrated into the instruction of the Language Arts.
following graphic was created to show how the use of technology could link a
language arts class with math, science, and social studies to complete an
interdisciplinary project. The project entitled Project Mexico could be started
/ introduced in the Language Arts class via the exploration of another
language, in this case Spanish. Using embedded phonics to see how Spanish words
connect with English words students can start to explore Mexican culture. From
that in the Math class students can use the school web site to determine the
Mexican population within their school and make a chart, then they can be led
to examine the customs of Mexico in Social Studies, from there they can explore
the wildlife present in that area of the world in Science class and develop an
alphabetized list of indigenous animals. All of this information could then be
synthesized to prepare a report on Mexico all with the use of technology.
key to developing this sort of project is again the adjoining technological
community component as students, teachers, and parents can see how all of these
pieces fit within the greater whole of the study of Mexico and its culture by
allowing them multiple vantage points from which to experience the information.
The process has a reciprocal nature that is at the very heart of the
goals of the proposed integration of technology plan The
goal of this initiative is to improve the overall curriculum by including the
use of technology as both creative learning tool and the tool of communication.
This is in support of the NETS Technology Foundation Standards for all Students
that are designed to enrich their educational experience and their professional
1. Basic operations and concepts
are used and supported via the adjoining computer science class.
2. Human issues are explored in the
sense that students begin to “develop a positive attitude toward technology
uses that support life long learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and
3. This project allows students to
explore their creativity and promotes enhanced group learning.
4. Students would be required to
provide me with bi-weekly progress reports that demonstrate they are
communicating and participating with each other via technology.
5. Technology would be the primary
6. Students have begun to employ
technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real
Summary In the final analysis, as this paper has
suggested, technology is simply one tool that is meant to add to the
educational process not supplant it. Technology surely has had an immense
impact on our collective society it has the potential to be used in ways that
are both positive and negative in education and in life. Regardless of the
scope of implementation schools, teachers, and parents must all be willing to
participate in the building and monitoring of a learning community that is
formed around the use of technology not completely and blindly centered on it
as the end all be all. Though modern technology based instruction and computing
have fundamentally changed the way in which instruction is delivered to
students; it has not changed the fundamental needs and aims of education
itself. Education needs to embrace technology in pursuit of its overarching
goal to prepare our students for the future, that is true, but it is also our
duty to make sure we remind ourselves and our students in the end it is just a
tool, nothing more, nothing less.
References National Education Technology Standards. Connecting Curriculum and Technology. Retrieved on November 21, 2009 from (http://www.iste.org)
Roblyer, M.D. (2006). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (4th ed.). New Jersey / Ohio: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.