Category Archives: Uncategorized

Using Ipad apps to develop literacy in the Primary Classroom

‘Many children are entering school with a wide range of ICT skills because they have been developing them since birth’ (Prensky, 2001 as cited in Jones, 2012, p.31). To develop aspects of literacy it is important that ‘educators acknowledge’ and work with ‘children’s multiple literacies …of popular culture and technologies’ (Diaz, Arthur & Breecher, 2000 as cited in Jones, 2012, p.32).

This can be done in the primary classroom through the use of  developmentally appropriate information communication technology (ICT) resources that ‘can encourage play, exploration, investigation and problem solving’ (Jones, 2012, p.33). Jones (2012) explores the use of the Play school art maker app in a kindergarten classroom to enhance oral language and communication. Children worked towards successfully ‘restating the narrative in their own words’ and retelling stories sequentially including aspects of successful retelling including  ‘purposeful use of expression, intonation and extended statements’ (Jones, 2012, p.36).

Use of these ICT resources enables the teacher to assume the role of ‘facilitator’ and the students to become ‘leaders in the learning process’ (Goodwin, 2012 as cited in Jones, 2012, p.37). Incorporating ICT results in sustained interest, attention and engagement. Students can reflect on their learning using the app which captures and records their learning. Teachers are able to use this information too in ongoing planning towards achievement of student goals.

I would use the Play school art maker app or Toontastic (a similarly fantastic app) to develop several aspects of literacy including an understanding of the sequential nature of stories and narrative; an understanding of choices made by the author/illustrator/director and the effects of these choices on audience; and to develop speaking, listening and viewing skills. In addition, exposure to and use of ICT builds the technology skills and literacies of students in the class.

Toontastic is an extremely interactive, easy to use app that would be suitable for use with students stage 1 and up . The app has both written instruction and voice over that guides the user towards successful use . It is structured using a 5 step sequence of narrative (setup, challenge, conflict, climax and resolution) and reminds the user in a single sentence what parts of the narrative the scene should reflect. The app has several brilliant features including ability to change colour, size, motion and movement, sound scale to reflect mood of the scene (e.g from frustration to enraged), and the ability to capture voices of the characters using a simple record function (developing concepts of characterization, and intonation and expression in story telling). The only downside of the app is that it appears to have various locked backgrounds and characters on the free version…the complete version would be a great investment!

Jones, M. (2012), ipads and kindergarten- students literacy development, SCAN31(4), 31-40.



IWB’s in the Primary Classroom

Below is an idea for an interactive learning task using the IWB in a primary classroom.

Aim: Deep comprehension of the sequence of events in the picture book and animation.
Shaun Tan ‘The Lost Thing’ book and animation
IWB notebook file

1) Having read the book or watched the film, handover to students for joint sequencing of visual images. Have students come up to the IWB and order the images explaining why they have chosen the image to go in that order. Discussion should use the metalanguage of narrative including orientation, complication and resolution.
As a class, discuss the ending of The Lost Thing- What is the effect of Shaun Tan’s ending on the audience? How else might the story end? What would you like to see happen instead and why?

Screenshot Tutorial 3

2) Working with the text: In pairs, draw an image of an alternative ending to the book or animation. Write a caption of at least a few sentences to explain your drawing. Be prepared to explain your choices and what impact your alternative ending might have on the audience.


Happily Blogging

Flat Rosie’s adventures is a fantastic blog idea about a flat doll mascot named Rosie that goes “off to see the world” and blogs about her adventures from various places around the world. Of course the classroom teacher Mrs Thomas is actually the one doing the blogging. Flat Rosie visits classrooms in South Africa, Lebanon, Denmark and Canada! This is a fantastic tool for a teacher to explore a global perspective with students in an early primary classroom. Students learn about different countries around the world including how people live, the languages they speak, flags and emblems. It also links perfectly to concepts of identity and belonging in the HSIE unit as students learn that there are similar students in uniforms in other schools around the world just like them! This blog, which was nominated for the Edublog 2012 awards includes various modes including text, photos, videos and audio links. I simply love this idea of using a blog about a flat doll mascot as an engaging and fun tool that any primary school teacher could replicate in their classroom- I might give this a go one day! See Flat Rosie’s adventures at

5/6C @ The Junction is a really great class blog with several noteworthy features. The site has a lovely section called the 100 word gem where student work is showcased, a blogger of the week page that celebrates the blogging achievements of the students with a link to their individual blog and a section for student book reviews. The homepage of the blog contains textual, photographic and video posts. For example, the junction news broadcast is a recorded news segment performed by two students and frequently posted on the blog where students reflect on activities of the class and school. Other posts include reflections on classwork completed and evidence of tools used (eg snapshots of google maps where the class located places in a novel they studied) as well as information and photographs about excursions, charity days and other things. This is a supreme example of a class blog that a teacher might show his/her students to give them an idea of the kind of class blog they might create. It is also a great resource for teachers and students to share the kinds of things they get up to at school with the parents and community! See year 5/6C’s blog at

Incorportating digital technologies in the primary classroom

Barone & Wright (2008) share a number of interesting ways  teachers can bring new literacies into the primary classroom that result in greater student engagement in learning.

  • Instant messaging (IM): IM as a digital version of think-pair-share can be used to deepen student comprehension and foster engagement. When prompted by the classroom teacher, students refer to an individualised clock with peer names near each time so that when the teacher calls out “X o’clock buddy” the students IM-pair-share their thoughts and answers to questions with their partner.
  • Reading group blogs: Groups of students engaged in the same activity, for example students reading the same book in reading groups, contribute and comment on each others postings. Along with IM, blogs are simply another means for students to become comfortable sharing ideas. This is another means of developing student’s ability for justification and critical reflection.
  • Posting links for internet based activities on the class website: This method saves the students time locating the websites, avoids opportunities for off-task distraction, and encourages students to become more autonomous and independent in using the class website to find out information.

Critical text users

The overarching message from these silly-looking but so-wise sock puppets … as readers and viewers we must step back and consider what choices are made by the author, company or corporation and reflect on why they might have made these choices. The Media Show sock puppet presenters do this by demonstrating how companies such as BP can brand themselves as being environmentally sound simply by making content choices surrounding colour, visuals, image (happy babies) and sound (uplifting, forward motion tune) that persuade the viewer/listener towards a biased, favourable image. The sock puppet presenters go on to satirically re-brand their media show to look more sustainable (all-natural, preservative-free and dolphin-friendly!). This video is an invaluable means of teaching kids that the authors of media content on the internet have a bias to persuade viewers one way or another. The sock puppet presenters demonstrate the role of the individual to analyse the choices made and be critical, savvy consumers of information for example by consulting reliable and unbiased sources for more information.

New Literacies

New literacies are historically and socially recognised ways of generating and communicating. These literacies reflect the current postmodern post-industrial social paradigm that is participatory, collaborative, collective, sharing-oriented, nonlinear and dynamic. This is contrasted with stable, individualised, author-centric and expert-dominated notions of literacy under previous paradigms.

The continuously transforming and evolving nature of literacy is characteristic of new literacies. Transliterate citizens have the ability to read, write and interact across a range of modalities that include conventional literacies of reading, writing and arithmetic right through to continually evolving literacies surrounding digital technologies and discourse. Meaning in multimodal texts is communicated through various modes that include spoken or written language, moving image, music and sound.

In working towards transliterate students, the role of teacher in primary classrooms has moved away from imparting literacy skills towards both teacher and students working collectively and collaboratively with their peers to obtain, create and express meaning within a multimodal environment.

For more, see:
Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from Accessed March 17th, 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from Accessed March 17th, 2014