Computers and Reading Skills
by Prof. Edna Aphek
a fierce scholarly debate is going on in Israel between
the followers of The Whole Language method and the great
believers in the phonetic system as the panacea for all
the illnesses connected with reading acquisition, a group
of fourth graders tutored another group of first graders,
in reading, in an intuitive manner and not using or being
aware of any specific method in particular. They did it
, though, with a lot of love, individual attention and using
Though the tutors worked with relatively top students, some
of whom were already readers, one could draw conclusions
from the described case study which could be applied to
the advancing of the reading acquisition process in general,
and to other learning areas as well.
Sara is a first grade teacher at the Alon School at Mate Yehuda,
in Israel. Sara's class is very heterogeneous. In the beginning
of the 2001-2002 academic year Sara needed some help with
the better first grade students. She felt these students were
in need of a faster pace as far as learning how to read is
concerned, as they knew how to read and write in the very
beginning of the year.
Sara is a fan of computers . She is also a great believer
in the idea of older children tutoring younger ones. Sara
decided to ask three of her former students, fourth graders
as of this year, to tutor the more advanced first graders
and to help in accelerating even more the latter's reading
Sara asked for volunteers. A few fourth graders did.
Since Sara was their homeroom teacher for the last three years,
she was well acquainted with the abilities and personality
of the tutors to be: Sara chose the most sensitive and patient
Sara met with the "young tutors "a couple of times
and asked them to work with the first graders via the computer,
using mainly" Word".
Sara asked the young tutors, to work specifically on the following:
to recognize and to find the letters of the alphabet
to recognize the final letters
(In Hebrew there are two sets of letters, according to the
place of the letter in the word. If the letter is in the beginning
or the middle of the word its shape differs from when it appears
at the end of the word. This is true of the following letters:
KAF, MEM, NUN, PEH, and TZADI)
to master punctuation: to understand the function of
the period and the spaces
addition to the above the "young tutors" were asked
to teach the younger children how to write a very short "paper"
using WORD, and how to download pictures and to combine them
with their writing.
children and computers
Today's children are accustomed to computers; for them the
computer is a "playmate" "workmate", an
integral part of their lives.
It's a well-known fact that children nowadays master computer
skills at a very early age and often better than adults. Our
youngsters also master many qualities usually attributed to
In his book Growing Up Digital, Don Tapscott describes
today's youngsters, whom he calls the N-Generation (net generation),
Tolerant, curious, assertive and more self assured and emotionally
and intellectually open.
The Net Generation summarizes Tapscott , is a generation that
combines the values of humanism with societal and technical
The aforementioned characteristics, being emotionally open,
self confident, tolerant and curious, combining humanism with
technical aspects, make the N and digital generation almost
"ideal teachers" while using the new technologies.
page 2 of 2
to the articles index