Ten Ways to engage students in literacy learning using technology

In January, I had the privilege of presenting at the ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) Conference in Orlando, Florida. My session on Literacy was popular and I decided the easiest way to share it was via the awesome Spectronics Blog.

Some of my inspiration for the Literacy technology tools I chose, came from by colleague and buddy, Greg O’Connor, as well as my presentation Buddy, Jen Mac, who I went on tour with around Australia last year.

You can find lots of great resources from our Literacy Tour HERE. Seriously, check it out!!!!



Here are the slides from my ATIA presentation:

[slideshare id=44575062&doc=literacy-amandahartmann-atia2015-150211195317-conversion-gate02]


In these slides you will find more information and images around the 10 technology tools that can support literacy learning.

Essential Factors in successful Literacy Learning:

1. Oral Language

2. Phonological Awareness and Phonics – (including Synthetic Phonic approach)

3. Reading – fluency, accuracy, comprehension, vocabulary

4. Writing – mechanics, editing










Top 10 Tools to engage students in literacy learning

1. iOS 8.+ iPad settings

The latest settings now available in iOS 8+ update, such as Predictive Text and Third Party Keyboards, mean that regular apps can now be even easier for our students with diverse learning needs to use. For example, Evernote, already a powerful tool for note taking and writing, is improved when used with a simplified Third Party Keyboard and predictive text.

Apps demonstrated in this section:

[link ids = “evernote, skitch, write about this, pic collage”]

Third party keyboards demonstrated:

[link ids = “keedogo-keyboard-for-beginning-typers, my first keyboard”]

And others on our blog: http://www.spectronics.com.au/blog/apps/category/ios-keyboards/

Once these apps have been loaded from the App store, you need to INSTALL the new keyboard in your iPad settings.

2. iPad as a document camera

Giving students immediate feedback about their writing is essential. There are lots of great iPad holders and cradles that could be used to hold the iPad so you can use it as a document camera in your classroom… but I went cheap and bought this space saving shelf from my local cheap store… I think I am suppose to put cups on it.

Photo 12-02-2015 11 09 34 am

Instead I put my iPad on it, then I can put the students writing underneath the camera, and project to the whiteboard, so we can share and give feedback about their writing.


3. Key apps for effective teaching of letter-sound links

I have some favourite apps, ones that are essential in teaching and consolidating of letter-sound links, as well as essential phonological awareness skills like segmenting and blending.

Apps demonstrated:

[link ids = “lettersounds1-pro, lettersounds 2 pro, blending sounds 1 pro, word builder, word wizard, alpha writer, montessori crosswords, hungry for words”]


4. Apps for Oral Language

There are so many wonderful apps, that have engaging language opportunities in them. Opportunities for students to listen and speak and describe, all of which are essential in literacy development.

Here are a few good ones to try out:

[link ids = “toca tailor, my playhome, tell about this, sago mini doodlecast, make-me-monster, agingbooth, bitsboard pro, bag game, toca kitchen monsters, puppet pals 2”]


5. Literacy learning using the app: Explain Everything

Explain Everything…. one of the BEST apps ever!!! It is called a Screen Casting app, as it allows you to make recordings of what is happening on the screen, as you speak.

So many uses and applications, including: Reading Records, Reading comprehension, Cloze sentence work, How to videos, and more!

[link ids = “Explain Everything”]


6. Literacy learning using the app: Aurasma

Aurasma is another big app, that can change a classroom! Basically, you can link any video you have on your iPad, so that it will play when held over a trigger image.

Here are some ideas:

Book reviews: Videos of students giving book reviews linked to book covers

Sign Language Supports: Sign videos linked to pages in books

Engaging Reading: Videos of a book being read enthusiastically linked to pages of the book. Or maybe a favourite book being read by a father who is away for work.

Sharing writing: Videos of students sharing and reading their writing linked to their piece of writing.

Video instructions: “How-to” instructional videos linked to worksheets.

[link ids = “Aurasma”]


7.  Graphic Organisors

All in for Graphic Organisors! An essential tool to help students plan and organise their writing.

Try these:

[link ids = “popplet, tools-4-students-3, tools 4 students 2”]


8. Clicker apps for supported writing

Each of the Clicker apps are fabulous for supporting writing. In built supports include: word banks, text-to-speech, word prediction, simplified keyboards and visual supports:

App demonstrated:

[link ids = “clicker docs, clicker sentences, clicker connect, clicker books”]

Clicker 6 software is another awesome tool for your PC, as it has the same literacy supports, and more!


9. Literacy learning using the apps: Book Creator and Creative Book Builder

All educators must have a good book creation app. Try Book Creator, which allows you to create books with photos, video, text, drawings and audio recordings. Then Creative Book Builder takes it a step further to allow you to create books with even more options, such as tables, and quizzes, and embedded power points.

[link ids= “book creator, creative book builder”]


10. Favourite websites to support literacy learning

Word hippo: http://www.wordhippo.com

Simple Wikipedia: http://simple.wikipedia.org

Rewordify: http://rewordify.com

Google images: http://www.google.com.au/images 

The Daily Cafe: http://www.thedailycafe.com

Reading Rockets: http://www.readingrockets.org

Reading Doctor: http://www.readingdoctor.com.au

Jolly Phonics: http://www.jollylearning.co.uk

PDF books using word families/sight words at www.hubbardscupboard.org

Starfall: www.starfall.com

Getting reading right: http://www.getreadingright.com.au/blog/reading-expression-cards/

Pinterest (follow my mate Jen Mac)

Prezi: http://prezi.com

Tar Heel Readers: http://tarheelreader.org

Tagxedo: http://www.tagxedo.com

Wordle: http://www.wordle.net

Popplet: http://popplet.com

Spelling city: http://www.spellingcity.com

Kahoot: http://www.kahoot.it


That’s it! 10 very useful tools… all ready to go into the classroom!

Please share any other things you love in the comments section of this blog post!



Amanda Hartmann

Amanda is a Speech Pathologist with over 17 years experience. She has worked within educational settings, as an Inclusive Technology Consultant with Spectronics www.spectronics.com.au , and currently focuses her time on her busy private practice. Amanda is a Key Word Sign/Makaton Presenter, an official Proloquo2Go trainer www.assistiveware.com/amanda-hartmann and an official expert TBoxApps Trainer for Therapy Box. She is also a certified Apple Trainer and regularly runs iPad workshops to help schools integrate iPad technology into the classroom, for all learners. Amanda has a special interest in supporting and developing communication, literacy and learning for a wide range of diverse learners, often through the use of visual tools, sign language and technology. She has spent many years providing therapy support and teacher/parent training in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for students with complex communication needs, due to disabilities such as: Cerebral palsy and other Physical impairments, Visual impairment, Hearing impairment, Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Intellectual Impairment, Angelman Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and others. She also has specialist knowledge to support the literacy learning of students with learning difficulties, language impairments and other diverse learning needs. She is passionate about providing interactive and engaging presentations to educators, parents and therapists.

One thought on “Ten Ways to engage students in literacy learning using technology

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *