Improving Elementary Literacy with Technology

Adam Fragale
Curriculum Specialist
Blog on November 02 2022

According to, 21% of adults in the US are illiterate as of 2022, 54% of adults are below a sixth grade literacy level, and 66% of fourth grade children in the US could not read proficiently in 2013.

When it comes to literacy in the U.S., there is a crisis, and the challenges that teachers are facing are daunting. I do not believe that anyone thinks that there is a one-step solution to the problem, but one approach that can possibly help in overcoming these challenges is integrating the use of technology into elementary literacy classrooms.

The integration of technology in the classroom

A common challenge that schools are facing is that they have technology but are not using it appropriately. When I was in the classroom, I did the same thing. For example, I would have students passively watch videos or play games in which they were not connected to or absorbing any information. I believed I was bringing a technological element to the classroom, but in the end, it would fall flat.

So, do we abandon technology in the classroom and not use it at all? Certainly not! When used actively and in connection with your planned curriculum, technology can engage students’ creativity. There are apps, videos, and games that can boost student comprehension. Technology gives us access to collaboration tools which can boost writing skills. Students can post and publish work in new ways, such as creating a blog, or collaborating and receiving peer feedback in Google Docs. We cannot ignore the fact that technology is and will continue to be a part of our lives, so teachers must use it to prepare students to be productive learners.

Literacy tools for students

Many will ask, where do I start? The quick answer is by using the Educational App Store or Common Sense Education. Both of these sites contain literacy apps that are certified and reviewed by teachers, including exceptional education content that works with your curriculum. With user-friendly filters allowing you to search a topic, this not only makes it an easy lift for you, but also it is also engaging for your students! Furthermore, many of the apps found on these sites allow for the differentiation of reading levels that you may not be able to achieve with a traditional hardcover book. 

Looking for something to boost writing skills? Raise the bar for your book reports by utilizing Book Creator, a tool that allows students’ imaginations to run wild. Tools like this help focus students on creation instead of regurgitation. By implementing student driven lessons, teachers can help students make learning literacy skills a meaningful experience that they connect to on a personal level.

Have no fear teachers, technology does not replace you! You play a critical role in appropriate instruction regardless if technology is used or not. Most importantly, after using technology to improve literacy, conducting face-to-face activities will foster discussion and create opportunities to apply what was learned. 

For more information on educational technology and additional resources, make sure to visit the OTIS for educators site.

For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more content on the Teq Talk blog or our YouTube channels OTIS for educators and Tequipment.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and support with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology and strategies that spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening!

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