The Impact of the ITLC on Emergent Literacy Variables
Oral communication at the computer in Type III classrooms was seldom observed. Adults were often present at the computer, questioning, directing, and facilitating. Children seldom worked in pairs or small groups. Oral communication was not promoted at the technology center. Since the children exhibited less language, a limited vocabulary resulted.
Some similar behaviors in technology only classrooms were documented as children verbally planned out what they would do and used exclamations that demonstrated pride in their accomplishment as they made a discovery or accomplished a task. Although children in classrooms without technology talked to themselves to show pride in an accomplishment or acknowledgment of an activity, they did not use self-talk to plan what they were going to do or to talk themselves through a process.
Many times children were observed conversing with each other about how to go about doing something as a child helped a peer work his/her way through a difficult navigation activity. For example, Paula was using KidPix Studio to draw a picture. When she finished, she said, "I want to get out of this." Ed proceeded to help her by telling her to go to FILE in the menu bar and then QUIT. Ed not only talked her through the quitting process, he also showed her by pointing to the screen.
If peer help did not work, children sought assistance from an adult. Perhaps they needed assistance going back a page to see the dancing bugs again, or perhaps the problem was more difficult as the child found that he/she had chosen the Spanish rather than the English option in a Living Book. Interactions were similar with literature-based software when the research staff did not initiate the ITLC, although conversations were directed less often toward children and more often toward teachers who helped children with the programs.
When using graphics programs, children carried on similar types of conversation in ITLC classrooms with and without research staff present as they received help from peers or talked about the tools in the program. Again children requested help from adults as they tried to find a tool that would make a different design or the letter tool that would let them type on a page. Children using graphics programs also discussed what they were doing or a choice that needed made. During the first year of the study, two children were observed working side by side at the computer, one child maneuvering the mouse while another child took control of the keyboard. The child with the keyboard would point at the screen and tell his friend to click "there." After the other child clicked the cursor in place, the child typed until he ran out of room on the right. They would then repeat the sequence until the whole page was filled with text.
Different kinds of conversations took place when children used HyperStudio in their own classrooms. Conversation were usually between adults and children about what would be recorded on the microphone as the adult asked the child what he/she planned to say. They practiced the phrase or sentence and then the child recorded the message. Conversations when building stacks were about letters and names of objects as children labeled parts of their pictures. Discussions centered on words that the child would use then type or on words the child wanted the adult to place on the 'card.' Adults and children also talked about the contents of the stack.
Children in Type III (technology only) classrooms had different kinds of conversations when working with technology. Conversations were generally related to directions when children asked adults questions and received a response.
In Type IV classrooms, children were observed during play talking to peers about what they were doing as they played and about what they were making during activities. They interacted during social situations, such as lunch or snack time, and when they requested help from a friend. Children in the ITLC classrooms had similar conversations to those of children in Group IV during center time as they worked with manipulatives and interacted in housekeeping.
When using graphics programs, children labeled graphics and stamps found in the programs. This was also true when children used HyperStudio, but children had a wider variety of graphics to label as they labeled people found in the pictures including themselves, names of people, and characters found in stacks. When children labeled objects in the HyperStudio programs, they worked with other children and with adults.
Labeling was also observed when children worked with HyperStudio stacks from other classrooms as they again labeled graphics found in the stacks. This pattern was present in ITLC classrooms only when research staff was present because the research staff showed an interest in the stacks, sat next to the children, asked questions, made comments, and shared information about the stacks. Teachers tended not to spend the time needed to interact with the children and the stacks or to spark children's interest in the stacks made by other classrooms.
Although labeling took place in classrooms that did not use the ITLC, it was often under the direction of an adult who initiated the labeling interaction and expected children to respond. Children also labeled objects outside of computer experiences during center time when adults asked questions about objects.
Children in classrooms where technology was not used showed no significant patterns in labeling, although classrooms involved in the ITLC demonstrated significant trends while using books outside of the ITLC.
Changes in Storytelling
When children retold a story, activities related to this element were not sufficient to constitute a pattern when the research staff facilitated the ITLC. Although they retold major events, they did not include a beginning, middle, and end to their stories, as required by our definitions. Sometimes retelling stories does not follow a textual story, but is related to telling stories from pictures in the book. More significant patterns were documented in the second year of ITLC use when literature-based software and the related hard copy books led to children directing their own style of storytelling, although it did not meet our definition criteria. In ITLC classrooms with research staff, children read books, initiated retelling stories from books during free play, and read books with adults in activities away from the computer, while in classrooms involved in the ITLC for two years, children reread stories through the pictures in the books.
In technology only classrooms, children did not demonstrate retelling stories while using the computer and related software, but they did initiate their own retelling of parts of stories outside of the computer during free play and other times during the day.
Children in classrooms that did not use technology looked at books during group time and during reading time under adult direction. Children also retold stories from books.
In Type III classrooms when children used programs, they matched letters and numbers to activate programs. Children used programs that required key strokes to activate the sequence in the program. For example, they looked at a number on the screen and then looked at the keyboard to find a match for that number, then pressed the number to make something happen.
While all of the letter recognition activities observed in classrooms that used technology were related to processes and activities in which children were engaged, in classrooms that did not use technology children recognized letters that were related to their name. Although this activity was observed in ITLC classroom, the ITLC children recognized letters in a greater number of contexts.
Identifies and/or reads
In Type III classrooms, no significant patterns emerged, although in Type IV classrooms, children recognized their own and classmates' names. This was comparable to the ITLC classrooms where children recognized names outside of the computer environment in drawings and objects that were identified with names such as coats and backpacks.
A teacher, during the third year of using the ITLC, described a child who worked through a program, Big Job, navigated a driving experience, and received a certificate. Before he was done, he had found the printer icon and asked to print his certificate. Children using KidDesk commonly printed notes to take home to friends and family members. In one ITLC classroom, a little girl placed a cake icon on the calendar on KidDesk. She clicked the Print icon, turned to the classroom teacher said her grandma's birthday was this month and she was printing the calendar for her.
Children in Type III classrooms also recognized icons related to computer programs, but did not match the icons to the CD-ROMs. They also found and used the Print and tool icons to navigate through programs.
Children in Type IV classrooms did not demonstrate a significant pattern related to identifying environmental print.
Many of the drawings created by children in classrooms where the ITLC was not used were not created on the computer and not related to computer programs. Many of the activities called "art" by a teacher were craft and ditto pages. The few computer related drawings were created at an adult's direction and related to a topic or theme.
Classrooms that did not use technology drew images during free play, but also drew at adult direction for journal activities or for a craft-related activity. Craft activities, such as making paper chains or bunnies out of circles and ovals, were more prevalent than drawing.
Changes in Emergent Writing
Children in technology only classrooms used emergent writing when writing their name and during dramatic play. Children in Type IV classrooms did not demonstrate any significant patterns, although children in one of the Type IV classrooms dictated in journals. While the children drew pictures and had the opportunity to write, they were not encouraged to write what they said. We could not differentiate between their drawings and writing. Children involved in the ITLC showed the same significant patterns when printing their names in activities outside the ITLC, while children involved for more than 1 year were printing more words than their names.
'Reading' a Book
Children involved in the ITLC looked at and 'read' books. They pointed at pictures and carried on conversations about the graphics on the pages of electronic story books. 'Reading' often occurred with small groups of children. The groups ranged from pairs to seven or more children. Many children were interacting with the story on the computer while holding the book, pointing to pictures, reading along, and turning the pages of a related hard copy of the book such as Harry and the Haunted House. It was common to see three children at the computer; one child operating the mouse, another child holding the book and turning the pages, while another child directed the actions. This behavior carried over to graphics software. Children looked for a related hard copy of a book and, instead, found the software manual tucked into the CD-ROM case. Children would pull out the manual and proceed to 'read.' Manual use was not commonly observed as classrooms carried the ITLC over into the second or third year.
Children continued to 'read' books when
using HyperStudio both in their classrooms and from other classrooms.
When interacting within their own HyperStudio stacks, activities were
often adult directed with children occasionally choosing, on their own,
to interact with the stacks. Children were reading and turning the pages
in stacks while attending to words and names found on the 'cards' in
the stacks. 'Cards' without words and sound held little fascination
for some children, so they flipped past a 'card' without words and sound.
When asked why he skipped over those pages, one boy said, "they don't
talk, they are boring."
When children used HyperStudio stacks made in other classrooms with the research staff, the activity was child initiated. Some children liked to look at individual children's stacks that were developed in their own classroom--they knew their peers and enjoyed looking at and asking questions about the stacks--while a few preferred stacks developed in other classrooms. Children interacted with the software clicking on 'hot spots,' watching, and observing as discussed earlier in the section on HyperStudio effects.
Looking at and 'reading' books during computer use was not commonly documented in Type III classrooms. Many of the reading activities took place when adults conducted group events during circle time and story time. When computer programs were involved, adults were involved even if the activity was child initiated.
In classrooms where technology was not used, children read books during a required reading time, during other adult-chosen times, and during adult interactions in reading activities. Children also read books during free time when they requested adults to read with them. It is interesting to note that many of the book activities took place only when the activities were adult-initiated, while in ITLC classrooms when children were not interacting with technology, children looked at books in the book area with other children, listened to books on tape, and 'read' alone in the book area. The children in the ITLC classroom also read with adults during circle time and adults read to children during free time.
Problem solving in Group III classrooms was evident when children maneuvered through software. Children were not actively involved in solving problems in classrooms where technology was not present, perhaps due to the high degree of adult decision making and teacher-directed activities.
Predict Sequence and Outcomes
When using HyperStudio, children predicted sequence and outcomes when navigating through programs and predicted the outcome of buttons when using their own stacks. When using stacks created in other classrooms, children demonstrated predicting sequence and outcomes when they printed. They knew what would happen when they clicked on an object. For example, a child said, "Watch this. The house is going to sneeze."
In ITLC classrooms during the first year, observations indicate children predicted the story line in books and understood the sequence of turning pages in books. In classrooms that used the ITLC in the second year, children were observed predicting the names and letters found in printed materials.
In Group III classrooms children demonstrated predicting abilities when sequencing the computer keys or the steps needed to activate or navigate a program. Children in classrooms where technology was not present were not observed interacting in activities that facilitated predicting sequence and outcomes.
Ability to Make Judgments
When they used graphic programs, children continued to make judgments regarding whose turn it was and when their turn was over. Choices and judgments were made when choosing software and the activities within the software. This included tool and color choices. We found strong trends in judgments when children worked through the mechanics of the program and decided on the steps needed to print. These patterns continued in the Group II classrooms that used the ITLC for more than one year.
When children used HyperStudio to author their own stacks, they made process choices. Such choices included decisions on what photographs to incorporate into a stack, what sounds to add to the drawings or photographs, and what kind of animation might occur within the stack. For example, Marty pointed to the paper towel holder in the photograph, indicating to the adult facilitator that he wanted the towel holder to do something. When the adult asked Marty, "What do you want the towel holder to do?" Marty said quietly, "Paper towels coming out." As the adult finished creating the button while talking to Marty about the animation process, Marty said he wanted it to make a noise. When asked, "What kind of noise," Marty responded that it should sound like tearing paper. Using paper towels from the classroom towel holder, Marty experimented with crumpling and tearing paper towels until he was satisfied with the noise. Then he, with the adult's help, recorded the sounds he had chosen. When the process was finished, Marty clicked the button to watch the paper towel holder animation and listen to the sound. He smiled.
Children also made judgments about buttons including placement, size, and the look of the button (visible or invisible). Children made judgments about what tool and colors to use. Unlike the commercial and graphic and tool software where many of the interactions were children working alone or with other children, HyperStudio tended to involve an adult and child or children working together to author the stack. In classrooms where children used HyperStudio programs authored by others, children made judgments about what to click on or what stack to look at.
In classrooms that did not utilize the ITLC, but did use technology, children tended to make judgments about whether or not to use the computer (e.g., if they were told it was their turn to use the computer, they could decline). They were also able to decide what software to use. Decision making activities in the classroom as a whole tended to be computer related. Children directed the software decisions and judgments, although at times adults assisted children's decision making about what to do in the software program.
In classrooms that did not use technology, children made judgments about their play activities. Children made judgments while interacting with other children and with adults about what they were going to do in their play activities.
Listening The ITLC provided many more opportunities for engaged listening and attending than the comparison classrooms. Children involved in literature-based software not only listened to and responded to directions from children and adults, they also listened to directions, music, and stories given in the software. Listening behavior was found consistently across classrooms initially involved in the ITLC as well as classrooms that continued with the ITLC during the second and third years.
When using graphic programs, children listened to other children as they helped direct peers through the program. They also listened to directions from other children and adults; however, in classrooms involved with the ITLC for more than 1 year, when children used graphic programs they tended to listen to adults rather than other children.
In classrooms that created and used their own HyperStudio software, children listened to adult directions about buttons and tools. Sometimes they listened to other children as choices were made. In classrooms that used HyperStudio programs made by others, children listened to and responded to both the computer and to adults.
In classrooms where technology, but not the ITLC, was used, listening behaviors tended to occur when a child was working with an adult at the computer. The child listened to and responded to computer cues.
Children listened to adults direct the storytelling activities and read books in classrooms where technology was not used. However, similar types of listening behaviors were observed in ITLC classrooms when the computer was not used.
Attending Active involvement in books and software and responsiveness to adults' and other children's requests or directions were categorized as attending behaviors. In ITLC classrooms when children were not involved in the ITLC activities, it was common to find them actively involved with books. The children attended to software programs, adult directions, and help and direction from other children. They also paid attention to letters and words. This pattern continued as classrooms used the ITLC over 2 or 3 years.
Similar attending occurred during HyperStudio use. When children authored and used their own HyperStudio stacks, they attended to the program and to adult directions as they used and produced buttons and opened stacks. When HyperStudio stacks made by other classrooms were used, sometimes children worked alone while attending to the software. When an adult facilitated the child at the computer, children also attended to the adult and responded to the adult questions. An adult's presence was often necessary to keep a child's interest in HyperStudio stacks produced in other classrooms. If the adult did not converse with the child about the stack, the child would choose or ask for another program or leave the computer area.
Children in technology only classrooms attended to the computer programs, but also spent a large amount of time attending to teacher directions. In classrooms that did not use technology, we did not find a strong trend in attending behaviors.
Off-computer Literacy Behaviors Groups I and II both showed a significant pattern in literacy behaviors outside ITLC activities. In Group I, children read books, retelling partial stories with children and adults. Parents were able to see changes in children using books and retelling stories. One mother said her child was now using books for the purpose they were intended instead of as roads for his car.
In Types I, II, and IV classrooms children conversed in centers and had classroom conversations. In non-ITLC activities, Type I and II classrooms showed significant patterns in looking at or 'reading' books. Children looked at books in the book area, read at home to other children and read with adults; adults read to children during circle, and children read with adults in the book area. In Group II classrooms, adults read to children; children read to children; children listened to books on tape, and they read alone in the book center. Groups I and II both had significant trends in using labels while using books outside the ITLC.
In other classroom activities, significant patterns included 'prints letters/words' in Groups I and II, including writing names in the first year. During the second and third years, children wrote words. Group I writing samples showed invented spelling. The sign-up books showed progress across stages. Groups I and II showed significant patterns related to use of emergent writing in playing, school, library, dramatic play, home and school. Group II demonstrated emergent writing in dramatic play, writing at home, and in writing names.
Outside of ITLC activities, children predicted story line, read books, and turned pages in an appropriate manner in classrooms that used in the ITLC for a year. In classrooms that used the ITLC for more than a year, children were observed interacting (reading and writing) letters and names. Moreover, children in the Type III and IV classrooms did not engage in these activities during the observations.
Use of Related Literacy Materials In ITLC classrooms, literacy materials used by children included hard book copies of the Living Books software and sign-up sheets for a turn at the computer. Related materials also included manipulatives (puppets, puzzles, teacher-made materials) that focused on classroom themes and software. In ITLC classrooms children interacted with books when not involved with computer activities.
No significant trends regarding the use of literacy materials were observed in classrooms that used technology only. In classrooms that did not use technology, related literacy materials tended to be flip charts, flannel boards, and recipe boards. All activities were teacher directed and the teacher handled the materials.
Sharing and turn-taking
In technology classrooms that did not use the ITLC, sharing and taking turns at the computer was not documented as a common occurrence. In classrooms that did not use technology, children shared toys during free play.
Social interaction and
communication among children
Similar behaviors were exhibited when children used ITLC graphic programs. They talked about navigating from one place to another within the software. They helped each other use the program by making suggestions, sharing ideas and discussing what was taking place. Again these practices occurred across all the ITLC groups.
Children often observed the actions taking place at the computer even if they were not using it themselves. For example, in the first year of the study, a child who spent most of her day in the writing center never ventured further during freeplay, and never used the computer. When graphics software was introduced, she left her place in the writing center and came over to the computer where she asked if she could sign up. When it was her turn, another child informed her of the fact--the sign-up sheet at work! She sat down, used the mouse, and made choices in Kid Pix. Keep in mind that this child had not used the computer before. After drawing a picture, she asked to save it by typing her name and then asked to print the picture. All of the things she asked to do were behaviors that we had observed her classmates doing every day in the classroom. This child had watched her peers over time, knew the basic procedure that the children used at the computer, and successfully completed her project--observational learning at work!
When children authored their own HyperStudio stacks, they tended not to interact socially with other children but with adults, since the authoring process required interaction between adults and single children as the process was completed. Children conversed about the content of the stack, taking turns, and the processes necessary to complete the stack. On the occasions when children were documented using other classes' HyperStudio programs, the users talked about the content of the stack and what the software might do.
In classrooms that did not use the ITLC, children interacted with each other during center time, read books, and played in the dramatic play centers. At the computer, the oral communication observed in the ITLC classrooms was not present. Children tended to interact at the computer by pointing to objects and graphics on the monitor and communicating through gestures rather than speech. Hostile behaviors were documented at the computer as children pushed and sometimes hit.
In classrooms that did not use technology, children were most often observed interacting in games, putting puzzles together, interacting during dramatic play and free time.
During the first year of ITLC, families reported that children interacted at home when playing with siblings, reading books, and writing. In classrooms outside of the ITLC, children were observed directing others.
Social interaction among
children and adults
However, when the adult was a student teacher whose computer literacy was woefully lacking, one of the boys searched for the buffalo painting again, ignoring her intent to exit the program (she didn't know how) and her commandeering the mouse. The child spent eight minutes or more searching, enduring the efforts of the student teacher to dissuade him, and, when she left, finally found the picture to show to his friend. They looked at the picture, listened to the music, and listened to the gallery viewer's comments about the painting.
When using graphic programs, children asked for and received help when they asked questions about software and hardware. Adults also facilitated the drawing process. When carrying the ITLC over to the next year, teachers tended to initiate interactions as they helped children with the software programs.
When children worked with their own HyperStudio programs, they often directed (told others what to do). Adults initiated conversations and interactions with children when giving directions for buttons and helping with computer.
Adults facilitated children's need for help in navigating the HyperStudio programs produced by other classrooms. Adults often questioned children about the program in order to entice them to stay involved in the software program. This occurred when research staff initiated the use of stacks produced by other classrooms but was not observed when teachers took over the program.
In technology only classrooms, the pattern of adult interactions with children was to give directions, help children, and rotate children on and off the computer. Without sign-up sheets, children had no means of regulating computer use independently. Adults in classrooms with technology only often spent time reading books to the children each day but did not discuss the story elements of software.
In classrooms that did not use technology, children were often involved with adults in group activities, making craft projects, writing journals, and interacting in circle activities. Adults seldom interacted with children during free play. They did not facilitate or enter in children's play. The adults were involved only in directive activities such as the journal, crafts, and circle activities.
Differences Among Children
who Participate More than One Year
The majority of children participating for 1 year did not have prior experience with computers. The children did not know how to manipulate the mouse, change CD-ROMs, or navigate through the software. Over the year, the children exhibited increased computer knowledge, worked independently at the computer, and used the appropriate terminology while directing themselves, helping others, and giving advice.
In all but one of the ITLC classrooms, reading centers were available. Children's visits to the reading center, while not a common occurrence in the beginning of the ITLC, increased over time. Children visited the reading center more frequently, choosing to interact with books during their free choice time. The longer children were involved in the study, the more they tended to interact with books. Children's interaction and involvement with interactive electronic books increased over time. During the end of the second year of his involvement in the ITLC classroom, one boy picked up the book Just Grandma and Me and read the story. Another child in his second year began to find books in the library that were related to topics introduced in the software to share at home.
At the beginning of the study in the ITLC classrooms, children explored pictures in stories, but by the second and third year, they had progressed to interacting with the story from beginning to end. During this time, children changed their focus from pictures to words. Many children were beginning to recognize that print had meaning. Behaviors progressed from clicking randomly on words to clicking the words in sequence, indicating that children recognized that the words told a story. During explorations with a Living Book, one of the study children progressed from clicking on pictures to clicking on the words of the story from left to right and top to bottom. The child studied the computer monitor intently and listened to words as she clicked. After several weeks of reading the story, she began to click the words in order as they appeared in the sentence.
Labeling objects in stories, both commercial electronic stories and HyperStudio stacks, was a common occurrence for children who were just beginning with the ITLC. As the children progressed to the end of the first year and into the second and third years, they began to describe and discuss characters and objects in the commercial stories and offer richer descriptions when authoring their own HyperStudio stacks.
Findings show changes in communication when children were involved in the study over time. Communications changed from self-talk, labeling, and one-word descriptions to discussions between two (or more) children. Children shared ideas in discussions about story and characters, procedures in graphic software, and navigation through software. A young boy who joined the study during the second and third year, did not communicate in the beginning. His first words, "Power Rangers" were said at the computer when he was looking at his shoes in a HyperStudio stack. By the end of his second year, his sentences were complete, and he was able to share ideas about the stories with which he interacted. The child could also help peers who needed help.
A documented difference for children participating in the study for 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years occurred in the handwriting samples. Children started at different stages, usually drawing or scribbling. As time progressed, the children wrote their names with some or all of the letters.
Listening and attending to the computer changed over time in both length and quality. At the beginning, children's time on task was short and sporadic. Children's interaction with software programs tended to be for short times. The longer children were involved in the ITLC, the longer they attended to programs. The children took time to explore software in depth and shared discoveries with other children and adults. Often, this same behavior is documented during other classroom activities. For example, Hal entered our study during the second year. He did not have an interest in anything in the classroom. He cried most of the time and would not participate. However, the computer was the one center where he did show an interest. At first, he only watched from across the room. As time went on, Hal began to sit with other children and watch. Then Hal moved to signing up and viewing the Living Books on his own. By the beginning of his second year, Hal could recite lines word for word from a Living Book, Just Grandma and Me.
Experiences at the computer center filtered into other areas of the room. Computer use gave children knowledge beyond their everyday experiences. Children gathered their new experiences and began to make sense of new knowledge as they participated in other activities and shared with other children. For example, a child exploring Just Me and My Dad enjoyed the camp-out with Little Critter and Dad. The child, along with friends, created a camp site in the dramatic play area where they recreated scenes from the electronic story by collecting props from the classroom to use in their adventure and building a "pretend" fire and tent.