English/Language Arts Education

Observing Technology Enhanced Literacy Learning

by Cory Cooper Hansen
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Developmental concerns challenge technology use with young learners; however, critical areas of literacy have increased when technology is available. This study was designed to measure when and what kinds of technology were integrated into literacy teaching and learning with second graders. The OTELL (Observing Technology Enhanced Literacy Learning) instrument was created to record teacher and student use of technologies over five components of best practice in literacy instruction. Observations and interviews established pre-intervention literacy practice in year 1, and the OTELL was used to measure technology use in year 2 after district and professional development support provided technology-rich classrooms. Thirty-five random hours of observation over a 7-month period revealed that the curriculum remained stable after intervention and that technology was used in literacy learning and teaching approximately 39% of the time. Within that increased use of technology, students used technology the most when applying their literacy knowledge, and teachers used technology 70% of the time when presenting literacy minilessons.

Social Studies Education

Social Studies Special Issue: Civic Literacy in a Digital Age

by Phillip J. VanFossen & Michael J. Berson
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Young people today consume large amounts of information through various media outlets and simultaneously create and distribute their own messages via information and communication technologies and massively multiplayer online gaming. In doing so, these ‘digital natives’ are often exposed to violent, racist, or other deleterious messages.  Additionally, these digital citizens must navigate issues of information security, privacy, and identity theft.  Because efforts to control access to information and exposure to these risks are fraught with difficulties, the most effective way to safeguard students and young citizens is through education. Children and youth need instruction on the application of skills for critical analysis and ethical decision making as citizens in a digital world.

Are We Preparing Young People for 21st -Century Citizenship With 20th-Century Thinking? A Case for a Virtual Laboratory of Democracy

by Joseph O’Brien
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“We need a clear citizens’ vision of the way the Net ought to grow, a firm idea of the kind of media environment we would like to see in the future.  If we do not develop such a vision for ourselves, the future will be shaped for us by large commercial and political powerholders” (Rheingold, 2000, p. 6). If the online environment is not considered as substantially different from the offline one, social studies educators run the risk of applying preconceived notions not only of citizenship, citizenship education, freedom of expression, and commercial and public space to the online environment, thus, limiting its potential and young people’s preparation for it.   To prepare young people for online civic participation, A publicly supported virtual laboratory of democracy should be created that enables young people to become socialized to an online civic society and to learn how to act—in a civic manner—upon issues of importance to them and the larger society.


Blended Learning in Teacher Education: An Investigation of Classroom Community Across Media

by Gillian Lord & Lara Lomicka
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The development of community in educational settings is now recognized as a social and collaborative process that is an integral part of learning. As classrooms and communities extend beyond the traditional four walls, research related to online community development across media is of vital importance to teachers. The study reported in this paper furthers the research on the development of community by investigating how graduate student foreign language teachers develop and perceive community and how these perceptions or developments differ according to medium (chat, discussion board, or face-to-face class discussions). Additionally, it extends the research by bringing the cross-institutional element to the blended learning courses. The goal of the study is to explore and analyze the incorporation of technological tools into blended learning in order to assist other teachers in the creation of collaborative cross-institutional situations. Experience in these situations will assist instructors in modeling such communities for their students so that they will potentially benefit from a well-developed and well-understood sense of community, both with onsite peers and with peers at a distance.

Current Practice

Evaluating Alignment of Technology and Primary Source Use Within a History Classroom

by Kathleen Swan & David Locascio
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Many researchers in the social studies have supported the use of primary sources in history classrooms as a support for historical inquiry.  Although primary sources have become accessible via the Internet, simply using digital primary sources, does not automatically translate into historical thinking or technology best practice.  Consequently, an evaluation matrix was constructed for one study to gauge the fidelity of primary source use according to three domains, curriculum content, instructional processes, and student products or outcomes.  In this article, the researchers provide background information on the development of the evaluation matrix, present the instrument, and evaluate its effectiveness in categorizing both primary source and technology usage.