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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Module 3 - Technology and subject area literacy

What are the goals for this module?

  • To illustrate how you can use subject area literacy teaching and learning activities in technology.
  • To help you develop your learning inquiry by identifying opportunities to observe and analyse what is happening in your classroom.

There are 6 parts:

The literacy demands of a technology unit

This unit is called Learning Through Play. Learning Through Play (PDF 3MB)

To successfully complete this unit, students need to:

  • understand and follow written instructions
  • conduct research to gather information from descriptions and explanations and data (from websites and in reference materials).
  • develop ideas and plans through writing
  • write an evaluation.

Learning about text types

Why would you focus on learning about text types?

Reading and writing different  text types (for example, explanations, instructions, arguments, narratives) is important for learning in technology.

In this unit, students are asked to read:

They are also asked to write an evaluation as an outcome for the unit.

What teaching is needed?

Introduce the Learning Through Play Student Instructions  Learning Through Play - Student Instructions (PDF 335KB) by pointing out the different text types students will encounter and what this means when they are reading them. For example, explain to students:

  • You will need to read every aspect of the instructions carefully. Each piece of information is relevant, such as the due date, the next step to be taken, and the definition of a concept.
  • You may not need to read the entire internet article, “Buying toys for infants”. You may only need to read the section on educational toys.

Ask questions that will help students identify and respond to different text types. For example:

  • What type of text is this?
  • What can you see that tells you that?
  • How is it structured?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the purpose of this text?
  • How should you go about reading it?

Adapt these questions for texts that contain multiple text types, for example, texts that contain an explanation and instructions/procedure.

What are you looking for?

Look for students who are able to articulate their understanding of text types, features, and purposes. Notice when they read particular text types for a specific task. You will want to see your students increasingly:

  • answering the questions accurately
  • reading and using the texts more independently according to their type and the students’ purpose.

Next steps

Continue to introduce and discuss a range of new text types, for example, news articles, essays, timelines.

Learning to preview (read) text feature information

Why would you choose to focus on learning to preview?

Using text features (for example, headings, illustrations) to provide information about the content will help students to:

  • build knowledge of the topic
  • locate the information they need
  • give them confidence to start reading. (This is especially important if you have  profile 1 students in your class.)

What teaching is needed?

Model how to preview information from text features. Use these questions and answers to guide your teaching:

Q: If you read all the information in the text features, what do you know about the topic already?

A: It will tell me what I need to do for this unit of work in technology. It is about making educational toys and tells me the many steps I need to take – from deciding on the person and the toy they need through to research, planning, and making the toy. Then I need to evaluate the process.

Q: Why has the author used these text features?

A: The numbers and letters show me the steps. The bolds show me headings and the important language I will need to understand and use.

Q: How could you use text features to make sure you have understood the instructions?

A: I can use the headings, numbers and letters to make sure that what I have read and understood makes sense and I am following the instructions in the right order. I can see the bolded words are important words to learn and use, so I have to make sure I understand their meanings.

What are you looking for?

Look for previews that include all the important information from the text features. Students should begin by writing these so you can see they are making sense of the information by combining and linking ideas. When they have more experience, students will begin to preview in their head as preparation for reading new texts.

Next steps

Use previews to analyse text features in a range of technology texts.

Working out, learning, and using technology vocabulary

Why would you choose to focus on working out, learning, and using technology vocabulary?

There are specific words and languages that students use in technology. Students may:

  • recognise but find the meaning unexpected, for example, “brief”
  • not recognise for example, “conceptual statements”, “key attributes”.

It is often possible for students to work out the meanings using vocabulary problem solving clues.

What teaching is needed?

Identify and use technology vocabulary

Introduce important technology vocabulary and language, and provide opportunities for students to use it in their reading and writing.

Effective Literacy Strategies in Years 9 to 13 pages 44-45 (PDF 130KB) describes strategies that can help students recall and use new vocabulary.

Clues for problem solving

Teach the clues for problem solving and provide opportunities for practice. Provide instructions (verbal and written) that contain different types of clues. For example, clues from the Learning Through Play Student Instructions  Learning Through Play - Student Instructions (PDF 335KB)

Using the sentence definition in technology

Write a brief to communicate what you are developing and why.”

  • What does brief mean in this sentence?
  • How did you work out that it is an instruction that tells what you are developing and why?
  • Are there other words or phrases that you can work out in the same way?

“Draw and annotate your sketches of possible solutions presented in 2D and 3D drawings, including colour / materials / texture and detail, as you would expect to see the product finished.

  • What does annotate mean?
  • How did you work that out?

Using context clues in technology. “Identifying a need: Write a conceptual statement”.

  • What conceptual does statement mean in this instruction?
  • Can you use the information around the words to help you work out the meaning?
  • What about the example? What does that tell you about the purpose of a conceptual statement?

Using morphemic clues. “Produce a sequential diagram.”

  • What does sequential mean?
  • Are there any words or parts of words in this unfamiliar word that could help you work out what it might mean?
  • Have you read the word sequence before?
  • What does that mean?
  • How can it apply to a type of diagram?

What are you looking for?

Look for fewer requests from students to explain word meanings as students become more familiar with the vocabulary used in technology. Notice an increased use of these words in quickwrites and other writing tasks.

Next steps

Continue to ask students “How did you work that out?”.


Why would you choose to focus on quickwrites?

Quickwriting is a form of note making that helps students to remember what they know and understand.

Quickwrites support students to:

  • focus on their technology learning (they are a great lesson warm up)
  • build their fluency in writing, which is important for the evaluation writing
  • think about and formulate their plans
  • learn and use the vocabulary required for evaluation writing
  • think about and develop ideas before taking part in class or group discussions.

Quickwrites can also provide ongoing information about the students’ developing understanding of technology concepts and use of technology specific vocabulary.

What teaching is needed?

Give students a short amount of time to write their reactions, feelings, and ideas in response to prompts. These can be specific or generic, for example:

  • Explain why you think it is important for some toys to be educational.
  • Describe what your toy must have and must do to be a successful educational toy.
  • You have a great idea for an educational toy. To develop your toy design further, what do you need to consider? Where will you find your answers? How will you know?
  • To take your design to the next stage of manufacture, what will you need to show in your drawings?
  • Write about something you have just learned in this class.
  • Write about a technology problem that you think may be a challenge in this class.
  • Explain how you learned something new in this class. What helped your learning?

Next steps

Continue to use quickwrites. Ask students to design the prompts and highlight the technology vocabulary they have used.

Writing an evaluation

Why would you choose to focus on writing an evaluation?

This is the major written outcome for the unit. See the Learning Through Play Student Instructions. Learning Through Play - Student Instructions (PDF 335KB)

Evaluation of a product is an important step in technology. Its purpose is to establish the fitness for purpose of the product, which links back to the initial brief and research.

What teaching is needed?

There are notes for teaching students to write evaluations included in the Learning Through Play. Learning Through Play - Student Instructions (PDF 335KB)

What are you looking for?

Look at the structure of the evaluation:

  • Is it organised logically?
  • Do each of the paragraphs deal with one main idea?
  • Are there transitions to guide the reader through?

Next steps

Build on this formal writing instruction in other technology units. Ask students to revisit any feedback when they are setting their writing goals in technology.

Published on: 09 May 2016