ICYMI Tech Tuesday – ELA Content-Area Tech Integration Ideas

In case you missed it (ICYMI), yesterday’s Tech Tuesday covered technology integration ideas in ELA classrooms.  To start, I shared examples of technology uses along the SAMR model’s spectrum (see this video for an explanation).  I tried to emphasize with each group that SAMR is best used as a reflection tool to think about the tools available and how students use them for learning.  We focused on how tools are used by students and the activities teachers set up by balancing knowledge of pedagogy and course content.

In each session, I asked ELA and even many social studies teachers what tools they use to assist in reading, writing and discussion-based learning activities.  In addition to the list I came up with in my initial post, our collective experience and creativity led to a number of new ideas, which I’ve shared below.  Oh, the power of colleagues who put their minds and experience together!

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  • Leverage Newsela to match current events reading to students’ Lexile ranges.  Teachers can assign contemporary, relevant reading, and push students to read above their Lexile levels.  Because readers can control the Lexile of the article on their screen, they can set their own goals to adjust their reading.  Students need to be able to know what college-level reading looks like and the expectations for their reading.  The self-monitoring aspect of the Lexile levels shows students the reading levels they should be aiming for.
  • Supplement reading with visualizations or dramatizations with supplemental multimedia from YouTube, PBSLearningMedia or ETV Streamline etc.
  • For students who have oral accommodations, turn on Apple’s text to speech features so that they can read along with long articles.  Don’t forget to show students the built-in offline dictionary gesture, which shows you the definition of any word in OSX when you tap (not click) the pad with three fingers.


  • The blessing of a state-supported virtual library and research tool like Discus means that students can inform their writing or use informational text to write creative nonfiction.
  • iBooks can be used to collect student work into a portfolio of writing or an authentic electronic publication.
  • ComicLife can be used to give life to poems through interpretation.  Also, student can write scripts for their scenes as a drafting assignment before they illustrate their own creative writing assignments.  See my ICYMI Tech Tuesday posts on ComicLife here and here.
  • PowToon allows for writing to come to life as animated videos, with or without video narration.  I’ve seen this used to practice foreign language speaking, but PowToons could just as easily be used to write “scenes not written” in novels or short stories.  (Sign up at the beginning of the school year for a limited-time promotion to get PowToons Premium for free!)
  • iMovie projects can stress your timeline, but there are tons of ways to adapt writing into a movie.  Whether it’s informational, persuasive or narrative, there are real-world examples of video freely available on YouTube.  When teaching ethos, logos and pathos, you may have students write a commercial, for example.
  • Last year, I partnered with a class that was learning about persuasive writing and taught them how to turn their writing into a podcast using GarageBand.  Students then used sound effects, music and B-roll sound to emphasize their points.
  • Sign students up for NoRedInk, which is a proofreading (not a revision) tool that uses high-interest texts of student’s choosing to differentiate grammar concepts.  It does some sentence structure simulations, too, which helps students take a fix-your-own sentence approach rather than choosing from multiple choices.  For a review, read here.


  • Use Edmodo small groups feature to create discussion areas for lit circles or even to make peer review groups
  • Blogs (like those in our Office 365 subscription) can be used to reenact parts of a piece of fiction (students write as characters themselves, practicing their skills of identifying character development)
  • GarageBand can allow students to conduct mock interviews with authors (after they research historical context and biographical information).  For a model, check out some of NPR’s book reviews or author interviews for a good podcast example.
  • Today’sMeet offers a way to give a “backchannel” for those students who would normally not be involved in class discussions.  Be sure to nominate a moderator, however, who would keep track and read contributions from your quieter students.
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