Early literacy learning in the modern classroom has been redefined with emerging digital technologies and the ease at which information can be accessed. The increasing use of technology in our everyday lives impacts greatly on literacy instruction and the role of the teacher.
Skwirk, the online learning portal which provides educational resources for foundation (kindergarten) to year 10, supports children in developing fundamental early literacy skills in the current digital age. Early literacy skills do not only entail the development of traditional fundamental knowledge and skills of the past print media world, including reading, comprehension, writing, phonemic awareness and spelling. In today’s society, it is critical that children from an early age are taught computer and technology basics to become confident, informed and safe users of technology. Skwirk not only provides opportunity for the development and consolidation of literacy skills with curriculum aligned resources but at the same time, young children are learning important online skills including how to navigate through a site, use a keyboard, mouse and touch screen technology. Skwirk promotes the interrelatedness of literacy learning and is therefore a valuable learning tool for early learners.
There are a number of ways that Skwirk supports the development of early literacy skills.
- Skwirk provides a multi-sensory learning experience
The resources in Skwirk for stage 1 (K-2) provide a highly interactive learning experience for young children. There are over 300 dynamic and engaging animations and games in Stage 1 that teach key concepts such as spelling techniques including sounding words out, breaking words down into smaller parts or blending sounds. In the Skwirk English section for stage 1, there are 9 units of essential early literacy concepts covering more 55 topics. In each topic, the animations and games encourage active participation with the use of questioning techniques, simple instructions, rich, meaningful language, engaging graphics, and interactive games, requiring student participation. In addition to the animations and games, there are also ‘read alongs’ which provide the written text or script for each animation. Students, particularly younger ones, enjoy the variety of multi-sensory games Skwirk offers. Skwirk’s resources encourage enjoyment for learning and when a child is engaged, it is well-documented that they are more likely to retain information and grasp a clear understanding.
- Skwirk supports a range of learning styles
Skwirk caters for a wide range of learning styles by encompassing a variety of methods to suit different learners. Younger students are more visual learners requiring colourful, eye-catching images and entertaining sound. Skwirk recognises this and uses bright, quirky characters and funny sound effects to engage their young audience. These multi-sensory educational games/ activities stimulate learning by engaging students on many levels, helping them to learn by using more than one sense. Unlike traditional teacher instruction which typically only engages two senses: sight (visual) and hearing (auditory), Skwirk accommodates the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (touch) learning styles. With the kinaesthetic learner, they prefer to ‘move and do’ in order to learn. They perform best in a learning environment where they can interact. Skwirk’s incorporation of interactive technology such as flash animations, interactive buttons, and drag and drop technology appeals to the kinaesthetic learner. For example, stage 1 students can develop their literacy skills by using the mouse or their finger to hover over a word to hear it read, click on a noun or verb, drag sentences to place them in order, clicking on the initial or end sounds in a word. Early learning of essential literacy skills is more effective when all three learning styles are engaged.
- Skwirk encourages a self-directed and self-paced
Skwirk allows children to complete games and move through the resources at their own pace and according to their individual needs. Within a classroom, there is a vast range of abilities and needs in literacy learning , particularly in the early school years when children enter formal education with such substantial variation of prior knowledge and skills in reading, phonemic awareness and writing. With Skwirk resources, the learning is individualised. Students are able to select literacy concepts or topics they would like further practice in and attempt these until they have master them. By allowing students to select games and work at their own pace, Skwirk encourages children to have ownership and can take responsibility for their learning.
With the multi-sensory learning experience, the range of learning styles and individual needs Skwirk caters for and the curriculum aligned interactive resources, Skwirk is a powerful online learning tool that can foster the development of early literacy skills and provide a positive learning experience for young children.
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Written by Rachael Ingram, primary school teacher K-6