Monday, May 14, 2012

Teaching literacy in the age of free digital entertainment - guest post

Although the rapid advance of technology has offered teachers a range of methods with which to revitalise the learning process to the benefit of pupils, it’s probably fair to say that there’s an ongoing battle to keep the attentions of pupils. After all, modern children are so adept at using a wide range of cutting-edge gadgets that simply retaining their attention is a considerable achievement in itself. There has also been widespread concern about the impact of technology – perhaps most commonly the rise of text speak – on literacy and linguistic standards. It’s important, therefore, for teachers to be aware of the challenges posed by technology as well as its potential benefits.

It might seem like an obvious point to make, but literacy really is of the utmost importance in those formative years of any child’s life. The sooner a child learns to read, the sooner they can move on to more advanced concepts, thereby setting them well on the way to a life of learning. Of course, those children who struggle to get to grips with reading may find themselves falling behind – and adult illiteracy is, regrettably, a common problem. Although children themselves can hardly be blamed for not thinking too carefully about how their adulthood might pan out at such an early stage of their lives, it is essential for teachers to ensure they devote the time and resources needed to promoting literacy.

However, there are so many demands on both children’s and teachers’ time that there is a delicate balancing act to be struck. Children and young people are used to almost instant gratification, which is why it’s so important for teachers to make sure they have the full attention of their pupils when trying to teach them the reading skills that are likely to prove so crucial in later life. One thing that teachers must remember is that they too have to ensure their techniques evolve over the years. A strategy that works for one generation of pupils is unlikely to work for the next unless it is adjusted to suit their needs.

Introducing technological innovations – such as interactive whiteboards, which have proven so popular among many teachers – can have a beneficial effect when it comes to retaining the attention of pupils who are well used to using technology from an early age. Although technology is no substitute for an outstanding teacher, it has been shown to have a beneficial effect in helping pupils engage with the subject matter. 

Guest Post: Jaimy is interested in the introduction of interactive whiteboards (IWB) and other classroom technology and writes freelance about these topics.


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