Technology in the English Classroom

There are many ways to use technology to enhance literature and English lessons.

By Amy Wilding


Technology lessons

Times have changed, and the role of teachers in the classroom has too. No longer can teachers be effective without incorporating technology into their lessons. For some, the thought of using computers, WebQuests, or Promethean Boards is a daunting proposition.  However, there are some easy ways to use technology.

If you are looking for a way to introduce your students to multimedia projects, try using Power Point. It is a very easy program to teach and learn. Students can practice copying and pasting pictures and text from the Internet, and experiment with colors and text effects. Once they have completed their project, students can present their finished work by showing their work slide-by-slide or having the PowerPoint presentation run like a movie. I have used Power Points to have students complete debates, book reports and multi-step projects. Before students begin work on these projects, I create a rubric that requires a specific number of slides, pictures, music etc . . . so that students know what I am expecting. I also evaluate how well the student used the available special effects. 

There is a new program called "Lit Trips" that is great for practically any content area. The specific topic is created by fellow teachers. Each trip contains numerous activities, discussion questions, pictures and even music.  My “trip” was with "The Kite Runner."  Using Google Earth, the trip mapped out the entire book chapter-by-chapter.  Within the trip, students were able to listen to music, take 3-D tours of historical buildings, and see up to date pictures of the cities.  The “Lit Trip” is a fun and interactive way for students to learn about the text and go beyond classroom discussion. Depending on the age of your students, you may be able to let them explore the trip on their own. Otherwise, you could create a specific list of questions they have to answer, or places they have to visit.

Another easy way to prepare your students for using technology is to start a blog. Blogs are an interactive way for students to communicate their ideas. The blog can be used for regular classroom assignments. After students have read a piece of literature or completed an assignment, they can comment on the classroom blog. This was a particular success with students who were afraid to share ideas in class. Using the blog, these students could communicate in a more comfortable environment. Once a week we would review the comments and questions in class. An additional benefit to using the blog format is that the same one can be used for several classes so that students can share ideas with students who aren't in their class.

Here are some more ideas and lessons that effectively incorporate technology.

Technology Lessons:

Night: A WebQuest

This lesson introduces students to webquests through a Holocaust lesson. It is designed for twelfth grade students, but could be adapted for ninth through eleventh. The lesson even includes possible problems so that you can work out any challenges ahead of time. I think that this lesson would be a good way to prepare students to making more advanced web pages like "wiki-pages."

Student Centered WebQuests for Works of Literature

This lesson takes technology one step further. In this lesson students create their own WebQuest based on the text they are reading. The lesson is not very detailed, but provides additional links that can give more specific directions. The lesson could easily be adapted for any grade seventh through twelfth.

The Perfect Society

This lesson incorporates Power Point. Working in groups, students create a Power Point presentation based on "The Giver."  The lesson includes step-by-step instructions and links.  Given the topic, I think that this would be a great lesson that not only incorporates technology, but has students practice cooperative learning as well.

The Great Depression--An Oral History on the Internet

This lesson outlines how students can use the Internet to search for topics related to the Great Depression. If you are looking for a way to use computers, this is a great lesson.  I would suggest bringing laptops into the classroom. That way you could address student needs immediately.  Once the students are finished researching, they can use the laptops to create Power Point presentations or papers in the comfort of the classroom.