How can ict for learning improve student engagement with texts?


Students in New Zealand are failing to make meaning of texts in the 21st century (PISA 2009). That report makes a clear link between student enjoyment of reading, and reading attainment (p26), which is supported by Wylie, Hipkins & Hodgen (2008, p23). In my community more than half of students recently reported that they only read when they have to ('MySchool' survey Sept 2016). I believe that the exciting opportunities presented by a range of ICT for learning activities can enhance their engagement with reading, and subsequently improve student reading comprehension. In particular, digital technologies (examples detailed in the 'Plan' below) enable more effective collaboration which builds on the socio-cultural aspects of literacy (Gee, J.P. 2010, p2). The social networking element of collaboration has long been seen as a benefit to girls (Wright, N. & W. Malcolm (July 2010), and this method is also acknowledged as compatible to the learning of Maori akonga (MoE 2013 - 2017)

"Effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students" NZC p35


  • The majority stakeholders are the intermediate students (all girls) at my school ( 9% Maori and 2% Pasifika currently). They will be informed of the justification behind the Inquiry and interviewed by the homeroom teacher to analyse their initial data and set meaningful reading goals and, as the Inquiry progresses, complete a survey to reflect on their engagement with texts.
  • Whanau: They will be made aware of reading goals set by the students and encouraged to support them. Reading will be discussed for all learners as part of the scheduled Learning Conferences early in Term 1.


My 'Teaching as Inquiry' plan will focus on increasing student engagement with reading through the use of digital technologies. Reading continues to be a critical life-long skill which is becoming even more crucial in light of the prevalence of digital information. Only one of the three intermediate classes will be involved in the Inquiry Plan. The other classes will follow their normal reading programmes and their results will provide baseline data for comparison purposes. This plan is based on National Standards Reading results for my school 2015-2016. I intend to introduce a variety of digital tools and techniques to increase student motivation. I believe that the use of these tools will empower the 'digital natives' , and transform their learning to being more student-centered (Trucano, M. 2005 para 1).


This plan allows all students more choice, which allows them to work from positions of strength. The constructivist approach suits the world view of Maori learners. It is important for them to be able to express themselves through their own experiences and use these to reason with others in a group setting (Gee, 2010, p6). The plan also provides for more opportunities to share in a neutral, safe setting (online), which is seen as beneficial to Maori akonga (MoE, 2013 - 2017). It is also suggested that the visual and multi-modal aspects of reading comprehension are key to engaging more Maori readers, and this can be achieved through use of a range of digital tools which will allow them to express themselves through music and colour, as well as words (www.educationcounts, ch6).


Reading National Standards at my school are above average for New Zealand, and the majority of students attained as expected or better. This Inquiry will have two small focus groups within the class - those who do not enjoy reading, but achieve on par with their peers, and those whose NS indicate they are currently reading at a level below their peers. Amongst the target community of students in 2016, 15% failed to make any progress in reading from 2015, and 6% regressed (based on PaCT report for end of 2016).

In September 2016 all 80 Year 7 & 8 students at my school were surveyed about their reading habits. Results showed that 74% of students said they enjoyed reading, however a second question asked if they liked to talk about books with others and only 45% agreed that they did. In response to another question 68% indicated that they only read if they had to. This suggests that whilst the majority of students enjoy reading, they are not choosing to - rather they feel they are made to.

PISA 2009 (Fig 1.12) shows a fall of -8 (score point) for New Zealand readers, although there is continuing improvement in the reading ability of high-performing students (Fig 1.14).


One third of the intermediate students (one class) will have more intense exposure to digital technologies than the remaining two classes, in an attempt to stimulate their interest in reading. This will continue until mid-year National Standards are assessed.

Initially qualitative data will be collected from student interviews to try and ascertain why students might be disengaged from their reading. Questions would include:

  1. Do you enjoy reading at home?
  2. What do you like to read?
  3. Do you prefer to read online or printed material? Can you explain your preference?
  4. What do/don't you enjoy about reading at school? Can you give reasons to support your views?
  5. Can you describe your best ever experience with reading at home or school? What made it special?
  6. What could change at school to increase your enjoyment of reading?

In addition, initial quantative data assessing students reading preferences and engagement will be taken from the easttle attitude marker at the start of Term 1's reading test (students score 1-5).

All students will individually conference with their teacher and analyse their reading data (easttle together with National Standards, PATs) and goals set online (OneNote). Students will be encouraged to share these goals with their whanau and enlist their support. Students will be invited to discuss the opportunities created by the Inquiry, and how they might use this to engage more with reading. The teacher will help identify digital tools and activities which will motivate the student.

There will be an increased use of the exciting technologies such as iMovies, green-screen photography, screen casting, Story Creator, QR codes and Scratch coding. Students will be given opportunities to critique books in a variety of ways, and find authentic audiences to help them understand the value of their work. This can be achieved through class blogs or Twitter accounts. Literacy Circles will also be set up for (at least one) novel study and students will be shown how to use OneNote for sharing their findings with each other - this could be written or visual - and they will be encouraged collaborate outside the traditional classroom setting using 'Yammer'. I consider the audience could be authentically enlarged by inviting both the Head of English and the School Librarian to join these online groups and give additional feedback and suggestions. This decision would be at the discretion of each group as I believe that their ownership of the group's work is paramount to their continued socialisation and therefore engagement. Students will be given opportunities to read plays (School Journals) and record themselves using digital technology, including 'Green Screen' photography. Students will be invited to complete a survey after 16 school weeks to ascertain whether they are more engaged with reading. This will coincide with the mid-year National Standards.



A selection of quantitative data will be collected at the start of the Inquiry for all students as part of the normal assessment process. This includes PATs, easttle, Schonell and National Standards data. For the Year 8 students the NS data is available through the Ministry's PaCT, but it is unlikely to be in this format for the new intake (Year 7) students. The National Standard for Reading will be assessed for all students mid-year using PaCT.

Qualitative data will be collected through initial interviews with focus groups and through easttle Attitude markers for all students. At the end of the Inquiry all students will be asked to complete a short survey.


  • target community are able to reflect upon the impact digital technologies have had on their engagement with reading
  • more understanding of how the use of digital technologies can engage students, which can be used to direct future teacher planning
  • the correlation between engagement and achievement is more apparent, and inspires more effort in this direction from all intermediate teachers
  • a more positive approach to reading for all students which disseminates across all curriculum areas, and enables better comprehension of more expository texts (for example in Science, Social Studies, Technology)


In response to feedback received (email GC 4/1/17), I altered my plan to be much more centered on my target community. I also added aspects of cultural perspectives which had been 'lost' in the generalisation of the plan. Following this feedback I also decided to select two small focus groups; one of low-ability readers and one of disengaged readers who are currently maintaining expected levels of achievement.

"The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes" (MARCEL PROUST, French novelist and author, 1871 - 1922)


Gee, J.P. (2010) 'A Situated Sociocultural Approach to Literacy and Technology'

Ministry of Education (2013 2017) 'Ka Hakitea'

Sandretto, S. & S. Klenner (2011 ) 'Planting seeds: embedding critical literacy into your classroom programme'

Trucano, M., (2005) ‘Knowledge Maps: ICTs in Education’. Washington DC: infoDev/WorldBank

Wright, N. and W. Malcolm (July 2010) ‘e-learning and implications for New Zealand schools: A literature review’. Report to the Ministry of Education

Wylie, C., R. Hipkins & E. Hodgen (2008) 'On the edge of adulthood: young people's school and out-of-school experiences at 16'. (1/12/15), read on 1/1/17


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