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How Integration of Technology in the Classroom Can Support Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

August 30th, 2016

Erin Coker, a Content Literacy Partner for Denver Public Schools, supports teachers with integrating disciplinary literacy into their daily instruction. She believes wholeheartedly that teaching literacy skills is an integral component of college- and career-readiness in the 21st century. Prior to working as a Content Literacy Partner, Erin worked as a literacy coach and science teacher. She began her teaching career when she was selected to be a Denver Teaching Fellow in 2008. In her spare time, Erin enjoys running, river rafting, and spending time with her husband and 3 year-old son. Erin holds a B.S. in Biology and a M.A. in Instructional Technology. Erin holds a Colorado teaching license in Secondary Science Education.

Note: We are pleased to welcome guest blogger Erin Coker from Denver Public Schools.

The world is an ever-changing place, and technology is becoming more and more an integral and vital part of our lives. As teachers, we face a tremendous challenge in preparing our students for an increasingly complex, cognitively demanding, and interconnected world.  

More schools and districts are investing in technology, with student access to devices growing  everyday. However, we—as teachers and educators—know it’s not enough to just fill our classrooms with technology. Research tells us we need to create innovative and purposeful learning opportunities for our students by integrating technology into our daily practice rather than using technology as an add-on.  

According to the article, “Teachers Like Technology in the Classroom, But Few Think It's Well Integrated,” by Elisha McNeil, “Ninety-one percent of teachers agree that technology gives them more ability to tailor lessons and homework assignments to the individual needs of each student, but only 16 percent of teachers give their schools an 'A' grade for incorporating it into their classrooms.”  

We know technology increases engagement and allows for more personalization, but why do we feel we are not successfully integrating technology? Also, how do we go about successfully integrating technology in a way that supports student learning outcomes?

The answer is one not far outside of our current teaching toolbox. In other words, the tool has changed, but that does not mean our pedagogy needs to change. Rather than changing our practice, we must focus our attention on marrying the right technology tools with effective teaching best practices.

Successful technology integration is about finding the right tool that supports instruction and creates synergy with our pedagogy and delivery of content.

Research supports this idea with the development of the TPACK model by Matthew Koehler. The TPACK model builds on the work of Lee Shulman and the idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge. This model emphasizes the intersections between all of the components, technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge. According to Koehler, “Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between these components of knowledge situated in unique contexts.”

When we consider the Literacy Design Collaborative, and the framework for backward planning and embedded skill development that is so integral to LDC, this message also holds true. In other words, the technology tool identified should complement the skill development.  

Let’s consider an example from a hypothetical LDC module. If students are working within the Reading Process Cluster and the skill identified is determining the central idea of a text, you may want to teach students a strategy like determining the gist. In this strategy, students begin by identifying the most important who or what from a section of text. Then, students identify the most important information about the who or what, which is generally limited to three details. Finally, students use the above information to craft a gist statement that summarizes the main idea. The length of a gist statement can vary some, but should be within the range of 10-15 words.  

When looking for a technology tool to marry with the gist strategy, you want to provide students with a tool that will help them map out the ideas within the text as well as give them a big picture view of the ideas in order to properly synthesize. The tool I would recommend to marry with this strategy is called Coggle. Coggle is a free online collaborative mind-mapping tool that is very easy to use. Students can easily create mind maps, share them with their peers, and add comments. Coggle also offers students the ability to personalize their mind maps by changing the color scheme and adding icons and pictures. Want to save your work? Coggle allows students to download and save PDF versions of their work for free.  

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If you are looking for more examples of technology tools that are aligned to best practices and support literacy skill development you can access this compilation of free technology tools. All of the tools in this document are organized by the traditional four LDC clusters: Preparing for the Task, Reading Process, Transition to Writing, and Writing Process.

Many of the tools presented here can be used in a variety of ways. The goal is to create synergy between standards, pedagogy, and technology tools. I encourage you to continue this work and find more tools that support your classroom teaching practice.  

For questions about these tools and resources, please contact Erin Coker at


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