Discovering Cool Web 2.0 Tools to Enhance Literacy Teaching and Learning

by Cindy Downend

Now that summer vacation is here, why not spend a little time discovering some really exciting web tools that are great for engaging both students and teachers in literacy learning?   Here, in the Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative, we have been encouraging one another (and the teachers with whom we work) to integrate some web 2.0 tools into our teaching.  We have learned so much from one another, the teachers with whom we work, and notables in the field like Troy Hicks, Julie Coiro, and Nancy Anderson.

As we discover these new web tools, we have been highly intentional and purposeful in the way that we use them in our teaching.   It’s not about just using a 2.0 tool because it’s cool and flashy.  We really spend time thinking about how each particular tool may strengthen our teaching and make it easier for students to grasp the concepts we are presenting.

Listed below are just a few of the web tools that we have tried out and how they’ve been used.  I highly recommend that you visit the Edublog Teacher Challenge Blog.  This blog lists 26 different web tools, gives a definition and overview of each of their uses, provides a “teacher challenge” to get you started, and has many videos that support your experimentation.

So, happy experimenting and please share with us how you have been using web tools for your literacy teaching.

VoiceThread allows you to create an interactive slideshow using pictures, videos, documents, or even Powerpoint presentations.  You or your students can record video/audio that allows you to describe each slide in more detail.  But that’s not all…Viewers of your VoiceThreads can leave responses and comments to your VoiceThread.  This tool is excellent for supporting writing workshop.  I have seen it used for publishing a class poetry book, students created informational texts that they narrated, and one first grade class published their interactive writing about a class field trip to the zoo.   VoiceThread makes it really easy to share published works with families!

Wordle creates a “word cloud” that helps to interpret the meaning of the words by assigning font size according to how frequently the word appears in a text or is typed into the Wordle text box.  We have used Wordle for brainstorming and as a reflection tool at the end of a professional development session.  Below is a Wordle that was created during a session on reading fluency.

Glogster is a Web 2.0 tool used for creating an online interactive poster.  Glogster makes it easy to combine graphics, backgrounds, videos, pictures, sounds, text and even hyperlinks into really interesting online posters.   Glogster is a fabulous alternative to the traditional classroom poster project.


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