Tutorial 4 – iPads and Digital Stories

After reading the Jones (2012) article on his experimentation with iPads and using them to improve literacy development in Kindergarten, some key ideas have stood out :

1. Students in this new digital age are, from a very young age, exposed to and comfortable with the use of may different forms of technology. In lots of cases, it is the 5 year old child teaching parents or grandparents how to use an iPad or smartphone. So these children come into schools often with technology and multi literacies playing a large part in their everyday lives. 

2. Because these digital technologies are already a part of childrens’ lives, they are largely relevant and engaging tools to bring into an educational setting. Planning learning that integrates the use of iPads will surely be a more engaging and if done well, effective way of developing areas such as literacy.

3. Using such technology removes the language barriers for english language learners as it acts as a scaffold for oral language and communication between students and the teacher. It allows for all students, regardless of language level, to participate in active storytelling and build confidence.

4. The use of the PlaySchool art maker app give students play-based opportunities that many from a NESB may have not experienced before. Such experiences are vital in helping to develop print awareness and building foundations for literacy. Although ‘play-based’ is often thought of in the traditional way, in many cases it has been overtaken by time spend on digital devices. So the idea of play must be adjusted to suit the importance placed on technology and be incorporated into interacting with iPads and similar devices.


How might I use such apps to develop literacy?

The PlaySchool art maker app and other similar apps can be used to focus on many different aspects of literacy. For example, using the playschool app when being introduced to or during the reading of a text to develop ‘predicting’ skills in a more visual and interactive way. Teacher provides background and discussion about suitable picture book and the students in pairs can create a visual storyboard based on what they think might happen in the story. After reading of the text, students could then go back and create a re-telling of the story (developing comprehension), and compare their ‘before and after’ sequences to see how well they predicted events.

Review of Toontastic

Toontastic is a wonderfully engaging app that works along the lines of the PlaySchool art maker. Some differences however are that it uses a more structured approach to the narrative making process by including a ‘story arc’ scaffold that is basically the 5 steps of narratives – introduction, conflict, challenge, climax and resolution. It is very simple to use, with a step by step process of choosing backgrounds, characters and moving and voicing them to create a story. One of the most exciting tools is being able to choose music to go with each step of your story – as the ‘arc’ progresses from introduction into the climax, the music also increases in intensity to match the events unfolding…..very cool!

This app would work extremely well integrated into a study of narratives and the components of narratives due to the explicit use of the 5 steps in the process of creating the digital story. It also builds skill in oral storytelling and creative thinking and would be wonderful to integrate into a ‘digital drama activity’ focusing on vocal expression and improvised storytelling.


Tutorial 3 – IWB’s!

Interactive learning task around the book and movie ‘The Lost Thing’ by Shaun Tan:


A screen grab of our IWB activity on Shaun Tan’s “The Lost Thing”.

Lesson procedure:

Aim: Deep comprehension of the sequence of events in the picture book and animation.


– Shaun Tan’s ‘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?

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.


Tutorial 2 – Three Key Ideas

After reading Pericles’s article “Happily Blogging”, three key points of interest for teachers in creating and using blogs in their classroom have become evident:

1. You can choose and provide purpose and audience – A blog can take almost any form that you want it to, as well as providing specific purposes for you, your students and the wider school community. From “posting assignments and class news, to parent information, to sharing of class activities, to online publishing of student work, to showcases of student art, poetry and creative projects, to places to respond to concepts and ideas dealt with in class, to journal work, to linking with other classes in other parts of the world” (Pericles, p.5).

2. Quality teaching and student directed learning – Establishing a class of beginner bloggers involves much more than logging on and typing away. The preliminary work required in setting up the blogging experience is a wonderful quality teaching tool in itself through the joint establishing of “blogging rules, topic guide-lines, editing requisites, good commenting guides, positive responses, open ended question guides, and reflective openers” (Pericles, p.5). Using these guidelines as almost another set of classroom rules will lead to students becoming increasingly self directed and self critical of the quality of work they produce.

3. Making classroom learning relevant! – As most students these days are fairly tech savvy and open to experimenting with new technologies, what better way to link their school education life with their life outside the school gates. Blogs are educative and informative in a way that is engaging and relevant to students even when they are away from the classroom. The shared online format is perfect for sending home projects to be completed and posted up for viewing the next day, for completing classroom tasks/homework as well as an outlet for any personal research or extracurricular interests.

Pericles, K. (2008). Happily blogging @ Belmore South. SCAN, 27(2), 4-6

Review of two blogs

3/4C & 3/4K @ UPPS – http://upps.global2.vic.edu.au/

This is a wonderful example of a well set out and designed classroom blog. I believe it has the appropriate feel, theme and content layout for the age group of Stage 2 students. It has a clean feel, without too much clutter, which is an important feature to make students aware of. If you want people to read your blog, make it look appealing!

There is also some interesting content such as a virtual class welcome message, a world map that tracks visitor locations to the blog (perfect for linking HSIE content!) , a local analog clock to track the time and even a virtual blog pet! There is a nice balance of posts ranging from lists, to photos, video clips and more.

Kids With a View – http://pointviewschoolroom3.blogspot.co.nz/

This blog is also a great example to model to a class of students. Although created by and for a year three classroom, the feel and look of the blog would work for younger students, perhaps stage one due to the bright theme and larger writing. One aspect that stood out to me as an important point to model was the link provided to a class created online safety and blog guideline page. This is a key prerequisite to any online sharing tool, so it is wonderful to see it included on this blog.


Scoop it!

Mathematics games ideas:


Greenwashing and the media – review

This short clip introduces us to the concept of “greenwashing” which in our ever concerned, environmentally aware age is a form of deception by large corporations, who under the guise of pretty advertising and reassuring words are not really doing anything at all in an effort to minimise impacts on the environment. The clip itself is presented in an ironic manner, with our puppet hosts doing such things as keeping the lights off in order to “go green” and “save the whales”.

As important as new literacies such as the internet and relevant media content are, students should be aware that not everything they see or hear can be taken as fact. The concept of ‘critical analysis’ is an important one to discuss in the classroom, especially when it comes to communication forms such as advertising and marketing. A clear distinction needs to be made between sources that are based in fact and those that should be looked at with a critical eye!

What are new literacies?

Before attempting to put meaning to the term “new literacies”, it is important we have a good understanding of the simple term “literacy” and how we can extend this form a new definition of a somewhat undefinable concept.

Literacy is a broad, conservative term that pretty much means that an individual has the skills required to use and process various forms of information in a way that is foundational to their learning. In other words, what was once labelled the ‘three R’s’, reading, writing and arithmetic. Now although in today’s day and age this idea seems a tad outdated and centralised, it does form the basis for us to think about what we should consider ‘foundational’ when defining new literacies. If years ago, to be literate meant only needing to be skilled in the above three areas, then today this definition should very much be extended to cover our dependency on technology and the world of digital media.

In a time when the world is more connected than ever before, not only digitally, but socially and culturally, why should literacy be restricted to pen, paper and words on a page? The increase of communications channels and media due to the rise of digital technologies means that what we now consider as ‘text’ has extended to cover modes such as visual, audio and linguistics. Not only this, but the way we are required to make meaning of these texts is dependent on an everchanging variety of social and cultural contexts.

What does this mean for 21st century, tech savvy students?

It means that the ‘new literacies’ are playing an ever increasing role in the education they are partaking it, not only as mediums but as content. What this means is that for our definition of new literacies we must not limit it to simply how we process these new forms of information, but also a knowledge of how we can better make these literacies work for us. In a time of decentralisation and collaboration of ideas and knowledge, what makes us literate today may be different or in addition to what makes us literate tomorrow. So ‘new literacies’ is a dynamic term, it is not bound to what is known now, but rather is certain to extend and encompass new ways of doing and learning in the future. Students should be aware that there are certain ‘rules of engagement’ when it comes to the use of new literacies. Henry Jenkins’s (2006) explains that “the new literacies almost all involve social skills developed through collaboration and networking.These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom”.

So ‘new literacies’ are not really radical new ways of communicating that completely void the importance of the traditional modes. They are born of the old and so still require the knowledge of foundational skills to correctly navigate and understand.


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 http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/Accessed February 14th, 2014