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Reading and Writing SOS: Using Technology for Reading, Writing, and Learning

In this special Reading Rockets video series, experts answer real questions from families about reading and how to support their children at home.

National Education Association (NEA)

Reading and Writing SOS was produced in partnership with the National Education Association.

Question: Should I worry about my child only reading on an electronic device?

Literacy expert Kegi Wells says that electronic readers are fine — although parents should watch out for too many bells and whistles that can distract kids from paying attention to the text. However, she recommends finding a balance between e-readers and print books. Print books help young children build print awareness, an important early literacy skill.

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Question: What can I do when my child gets frustrated with technology?

Virtual learning presents many challenges for our kids learning from home. Accessing and using technology can sometimes be difficult, and feeling frustrated when things don’t work is normal for kids (adults feel it, too!). Third grade teacher Chelsey Short provides practical and easy tips for helping your child successfully navigate technology at home.

Question: What are some tips to help parents coping with virtual learning?

Get five practical tips from school technology expert Mike Carvella on how you can help your child be more successful with virtual learning. Mike’s tips include showing your child how to use “help” tools to become more independent and learning about digital citizenship together.

Question: Where should my third grader do online research?

What should you do if your child always goes to Wikipedia to do research? School tech expert Mike Carvella offers alternative online sources that are kid-friendly and trustworthy. You might also check to see what subscription services your child’s school or district offers that provide free access to online encyclopedias and more.

Question: How can technology help my child with writing?

Curriculum and Technology Integration Coach Mike Carvella says that some kids struggle with the physical act of writing and others with organizing ideas and revising their drafts. Built-in writing tools like dictation and the ability to add pictures and other graphics can help kids improve their writing and enjoy it more.

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Meet our experts

Mike Carvella

Mike Carvella is a Curriculum and Technology Integration Coach for Oak Ridge City Schools in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was an elementary classroom teacher for 17 years before moving into his current role. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; an M.S. Ed. with a concentration in Urban and Multicultural education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and an Ed. S. in Technology Management and Administration from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Mike is a trustee and co-author for the National Education Association’s Leaders for Just Schools (opens in a new window) program. Prior to moving into this role, he trained educators around the country on the NEA’s diversity, social justice, and cultural competence curricula for 10 years. In 2015 Mr. Carvella was the Tennessee awardee of the NEA’s Award for Teaching Excellence. This award enabled him to travel, along with other state winners, to Peru to meet with teachers and business leaders (and crossed off a “bucket-list” item by visiting Machu Picchu). Mike and his wife Jennifer have two amazing children, two dogs, and a cat. In those rare moments when he can find the time, he likes to play guitar.

Chelsey Short

Chelsey Short is a third grade teacher at William B. Wade Elementary school in Waldorf, Maryland, where she loves helping students learn with fun and engaging lessons. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a focus on K-8 mathematics and a minor in special education at Southwest Minnesota State University. Chelsey is a member of the Education Association of Charles County Executive Board where she advocates for policies that benefit educators and students. Recently, she joined the New Mom Club and enjoys spending time with her daughter during her free time.

Kegi Wells

Kegi Wells is the Coordinator of Professional Development for the Jackson area and the southern part of Mississippi at the Barksdale Reading Institute (opens in a new window). Kegi has most recently served as Director of Curriculum and Instructional Management in the Quitman County School District. She began her career as a teacher at Crystal Springs Elementary School and later became the assistant principal at Crystal Springs Middle School. She then served as an instructional coach and later the principal at Madison S. Palmer High School in Marks, MS. Kegi received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA. She received her Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Mississippi College in Clinton, MS.