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Project SEEL: Part II. Using technology to enhance early literacy instruction in Spanish.

Custom-made digital media are rich, varied, and motivational early literacy materials. An important component of Project SEEL (Systematic and Engaging Early Literacy Instruction) was the use of tailor-made digital books and activities in the reading curriculum. Project SEEL team members created computerized materials in Spanish to relate to children's personal experiences and highlight target literacy patterns. These materials gave the children additional exposure to literacy patterns and added variety to the instruction. In this article, the authors describe the rationale for developing digital materials and explain how they were created and integrated into the literacy curriculum for a Spanish kindergarten class.


To acquire literacy skills, children need to be exposed frequently to letter-sound patterns at their reading level (Adams, 1990). Computerized materials have great potential for supplemental reading practice. Whether children receive support in using the computer or navigate through the activities on their own, direct instruction time can be increased (Whitehurst & Fischel, 2001). As these authors noted, without computer-based early literacy interventions, "One could never hope to have the teacher-to-child ratios that would allow children to proceed individually at their own pace" (p. 12). As a source for additional practice, digital literacy materials have the advantages of being customized, interactive, and shareable.


Teacher-made computerized materials may be designed to fit children's reading levels and to increase encounters with particular letter-sound patterns (Walker, Rattanavich, & Oller, 1992). Computerized materials add variety to the presentation of target patterns and increase and enhance the limited number of decodable texts available in Spanish. Even the available commercial reading series, such as Cuentos foneticos (Scholastic, 1998) or Vamos de fiesta (Ada, Campoy, & Solis, 2001), provide only a small set of examples for each targeted pattern. Although rereading such texts may increase the frequency with which children encounter a pattern, varied exposure to different examples helps increase the fluency and automaticity of word recognition (Clark, 1988; Rasinski & Padak, 2001). Because computerized programs maintain children's interest, they offer increased opportunities for children to practice identifying particular phonic patterns (Whitehurst & Fischel, 2001).

Educators can customize computerized materials to various reading levels and accommodate individual children's abilities (Whitehurst & Fischel, 2001). Because frequent exposure to target literacy patterns is important in learning to read (Hiebert & Martin, 2001), customized materials help by highlighting the targets children are developmentally ready to learn. In addition, by incorporating target patterns or words to which children have already been exposed, the teacher can use the computerized programs to reinforce skills and strengthen automaticity and fluency of word recognition. Incorporating elements children have encountered in instruction expands the potential for accuracy (Stein, Johnson, & Gutlohn, 1999).

Teachers making computerized materials can select content to fit their students' backgrounds, experiences, and interests (May, 2003; Walker et al., 1992). Personalized computer programs can provide purpose for reading by dealing with events that children already know and care about. Active meaning construction occurs when children connect texts to their own experiences (Ladson-Billings, 2000; Morrow & Gambrell, 2001; Rosenblatt, 1978), and their ability to build upon prior knowledge can develop when texts relate to everyday events, community practices, and personal experiences. Connecting texts to personal experiences is particularly important for teaching reading to children from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds (Gallego & Hollingsworth, 2000; Gutierrez-Clellen, 1999). By incorporating content and images from a child's culture, an educator can adapt or create materials to fit the cultural backgrounds of individual users (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, 2001).


Another advantage of customized computer activities is the possibility of interactivity (Whitehurst & Fischel, 2001). Web authoring and presentation software can draw upon HTML (hypertext markup language) format, which can be used to create interactive books and activities through the links between pages that HTML allows. This linking, or branching, of pages gives the children control over how they navigate through the materials. Simple animation can also be used to keep the children's interest. According to Whitehurst and Fischel, in contrast to such computer-based literacy activities, teacher-led instruction can be tedious and attentionally demanding for young children. Computerized activities can be created in ways that will keep children's attention.

Closely aligned with the interactive nature of the Web is the ability for children to choose their own activities. Once a core of activities is created, students can choose which they want to use. Allowing students to access their own stories, texts, and activities activates meaning construction; students who are given some choice and control over the learning experience are more receptive to the material being taught (Wong, 1996). In conducting research on the interest of educational materials, Wong found that "the effectiveness of a program can be improved if students are allowed a balance of control over the learning activities and some autonomy in the way they navigate through the program" Although the underlying purpose of the computer activities created for this project was to provide children with opportunities to develop decoding and word recognition skills, materials were placed within the children's control to activate their interest in reading. Some self-selection of reading materials is an important aspect of balanced literacy programs (California Department of Education, 2001).


Creating computerized literacy materials offer the potential of quality instructional materials at a minimal cost. Even if good commercial software in Spanish were available, school budgets may not always allow for their purchase. Digital books created with presentation software such as PowerPoint (Microsoft Corporation, 2001) can be viewed through free player software. In addition, the software used to create Web page activities, such as GoLive 6.0 (Adobe Systems Incorporated, 2002) or Netscape Composer 7.1 (Netscape Communications Corporation, 2003), is not expensive and can be viewed through a free Web browser. Because a Web page can be saved on a computer's hard drive, the pages can be created and used without a connection to the Internet. As long as a Web page is saved in HTML format, any Web browser can be used to open and view the page (see Culatta, 2003). The initial purchase of presentation or Web authoring software can be used to help educators create an unlimited number of personalized materials.

As noted previously, computerized materials created by teachers can be shared with other teachers. Programs with limited resources, including those in Latin America, could benefit from the efforts of others. Once the content is created, other users may copy and distribute it as long as the material does not contain copyrighted elements. Because the Web browser is free, parents or other educators can view pages without having to purchase software. In addition, because HTML files and images formatted for the Web (JPEG, GIF) are generally small, they are easy to transfer to multiple machines through a network, as an e-mail attachment, or on a disk. The HTML files will look and function almost identically on every computer, even if the computers are using different operating systems. This overcomes the obstacle of incompatibility, which often occurs in schools that may have machines with different versions and types of operating systems.

Once created, the materials are easily adaptable. Different versions of stories can be created for different purposes, and the materials used in one classroom can be modified for use with other classrooms. A Web page can be repurposed to fit another teacher's class simply by changing some of the media or text. To permit the materials to be used for multiple purposes and classes, some standardized, nonpersonal images can be mixed with personal ones.

Because digital materials are affordable and easily customized, they were incorporated into Project SEEL (Systematic and Engaging Early Literacy Instruction) as supplements to existing materials to support reading and writing in Spanish. These digital materials provided the children with motivating and personalized opportunities to encounter literacy targets.


In Project SEEL, different types of computerized materials were created to support early reading and writing skills. In this section, we describe the types of materials created, the procedures used to construct the texts, and the methods employed to integrate them into the classroom. The computerized materials consisted of interactive activities and digital books. Different versions of the digital books were constructed.

Interactive Activities

Interactive game-like activities, much like commercial educational materials, were developed using Adobe's GoLive Web authoring software. Images from online free clip art collections were also used. The ?Que hay en su cubby? ["What is in your cubby?"] activity, mentioned in B. Culatta, Aslett, Fife, and Setzer, this issue, allowed the children to use hyperlinked buttons to control navigation and pace from page to page. This activity was based on a classroom routine in which the teacher would place notes or objects in the children's cubbies and then ask them to read or write about what they found. The computerized version was the basis for a Web page that had a picture of the children's cubbies in the top half of the screen and the message "Click on a cubby to see what's inside," in Spanish, on the bottom. As the children would click on a cubby, an enlarged image of the inside of the cubby would appear. Each cubby contained a different object and a CVCV word in Spanish inside. After reading a word, the children could then click on another cubby to see what was inside, which was a hidden object illustrating the CVCV pattern, such as pasa [raisin], vaca [cow], or mano [hand].

Another interactive activity simulated a treasure hunt the children had experienced in a small-group literacy session. In the computerized simulation, the children saw a picture of their classroom. Using buttons on the screen, they could navigate to pictures of other locations in their classroom. At each new location they would find notes, clues, and objects that included CVCV words. Clicking on these objects allowed the children to see inside closed containers and to move from place to place until they reached their destination and found a hidden prize.

Digital Books

Much like books on CD-ROM, digital books were created using the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation software. The digital books highlighted target patterns that the children read, and initially were supplemented by support from their teachers. Each page in the book illustrated a story event organized along an action sequence or narrative story structure. Most of the computerized books were based on stories and activities the children had experienced in small-group activities. The digital books were decodable digital versions of trade books, teacher-made texts, or books about the children's experiences. A computerized companion to the trade book La casa adormecida (Wood, 1984), referred to in B. Culatta, Aslett, et al., this issue, included frequently occurring CVCV words with the/a/vowel and featured events the children enacted. Creating the digital version (La casa de dormir) involved inserting the simplified text into PowerPoint slides and including pictures of the children manipulating toys, cut-out people, and animals or acting as the characters as they piled up in a "bed" made of chairs covered with a sheet.

As with the interactive activities, some of the books had hyperlinks that allowed the children to move from one page to another. For example, in a story about a birthday party, the children could click on a hyperlink embedded in a picture of a gift to see what was inside. Hyperlinks can easily be incorporated into digital books, and they give children some control in ways similar to an interactive Web page.

The digital books in Project SEEL consisted of fictional narratives, expository texts, and personal stories. A digital book based on the fictional narrative Mouse Mess (Riley, 1997), referred to in B. Culatta, Aslett, et al., this issue, was illustrated with pictures of the children pretending to be the mice. The Spanish text read as follows:
   La rata sube a la mesa. La rata esta sobre la mesa. La
   rata come. La rata come galletas. La rata salta en la cereal.
   La rata cava en la cereal. La rata come la cereal.
   La rata come el queso. La rata jala la tapa. La rata
   come pan. La rata jala la tapa. La rata cava [en el azucar].
   La rata hace una casa (en el azucar). La rata
   come azucar. La raton salta en la cereal, !Que disorden!
   !Que Sucio! La raton esta sucia. La raton esta en
   la caja. La raton se lava. La raton va a la cama.

   The rat climbs on the table. The rat is on the table.
   The rat eats. The rat eats crackers. The rat jumps in
   the cereal. The rat digs in the cereal. The rat eats the
   cereal. The rat eats cheese. The rat eats bread. The rat
   pulls the lid. The rat digs (in brown sugar). The rat
   makes a house (in sugar). The rat eats sugar. What a
   mess. The rat is dirty. The rat is in the box (with
   water and soap). The rat washes himself. The rat
   goes to bed.

Digital book versions of expository texts were created as well. For example, as a follow-up to the Mouse Mess story, a "how to" informational text was written to illustrate the making of banana bread. This how-to book, which included pictures of the children making the bread, was written as a decodable text with predictable elements:
   Bata la banana en la caja. Pun las bananas en la caja.
   Pun los huevos. Bata la masa. Pun la leche en la masa.
   Pun las pasas en la masa. Bata la masa. Cocelo. !Pan
   de banana para comer! Pun nata en la pan de banana.

   Beat the bananas in the box (plastic or Styrofoam
   box for packing vegetables). Put the bananas in the
   box. Put in eggs. Beat the dough. Put milk in the
   dough. Put raisins in the dough. Beat the dough.
   Cook it. Banana bread to eat! Put whipped cream on
   the bread.

A text about how the children found toy frogs in various places in the classroom was one of the personal narratives. In this experience, an extension to the book ?Tu mama es una llama? [Is Your Mama a Llama?] (Guarino, 1993), the children periodically found the frogs (ranas) in various places in the classroom (crayon and sticker can [lata], box of scissors and paper [caja], toy bed [carnal), which became the basis for a predictable element book:
   Hay una rana en la lata. Hay una rana en la cama.
   Hay una rana en la caja. Hay una rana en la lata. Hay
   una rana en la sala.

   There is a frog in the can. There is a frog in the bed.
   There is a frog in the box. There is a frog in the can.
   There is a frog in the room.

Story Frames and Children's Dictated Versions

In addition to books created for the children to read, digital story frames, or "writing" versions of the digital books, were developed with spaces provided for the children to fill in missing words. Through the use of the "save as" function in PowerPoint, empty text boxes were inserted for the missing key words. The children could type words in the text boxes when PowerPoint was in the "slide" view. Once the children's additions were made, the digital book could be shown full screen via the "slide show" view.

The children also created their own versions of stories by dictating their ideas to the teacher. In these cases, the photos of the children enacting the stories or participating in the play routines were inserted into PowerPoint slides and placed in an action sequence. The slides, which illustrated main events in a logical sequence, also contained an empty text box below each photo. The teacher displayed the slide view of the presentation on the classroom wall and typed the children's dictated ideas below each picture to create the story.

Construction of Texts

The computerized materials were devised to exemplify letter-sound patterns and maintain children's interest. Both linguistic and design features were considered in developing the materials.

Linguistic Features. Linguistic features consisted of repeated phonic patterns, meaningful vocabulary, and natural and predictable phrases and sentences.

Repeated phonic patterns. As with the hard-copy versions, all computerized books were written to illustrate targeted CVCV syllable structure with /a/, /e/, or /o/ vowels, introduced in that order. Because frequent exposure to a pattern helps children acquire letter-sound correspondences, each computerized book contained many examples of a particular phonic pattern (Hiebert & Martin, 2001; Thompson, Cottrell, & Fletcher, 1966). When a new pattern or vowel was introduced, words exemplifying the previous patterns were also incorporated.

Decodable words heighten children's interest. Children are likely to enjoy texts written at their reading level, but they may quickly lose interest if texts seem difficult due to unfamiliar patterns or complex syllable structures (Hiebert & Martin, 2001).

The first step in developing the computerized materials for Project SELL was identifying key words that illustrate a particular target pattern. For example, when introducing CVCV words with the (cama [bed], casa [house], capa [cape], cara [face], para [for], pasa [raisin], and pata [paw]) /a/ vowel, a set of words with that pattern, was generated.

Meaningful vocabulary. Once an array of decodable words in target patterns was identified, those words with significant meaning for the children were selected for use in the computerized texts. As Hiebert and Martin (2001) noted, children attend to words designating events that are imagable, concrete, and familiar. For examples of CVCV words with/a/ vowels, cama [bed] and casa [house] were selected because they referred to common objects, whereas laca [laquer] and lava [lava] were not chosen.

Creating a digital book also involved placing meaningful words within relevant, compelling themes. Having a set of related key words centering on a theme allowed us to organize interesting events into a logical sequence. For example, the labels cara [face] and pata [paw] could take on meaning for the children in the context of baby animals searching for their mothers and matching features to find the right ones. A digital book based on ?Tu mama es una llama? featured babies looking in various locations (cama, calle, lata, caja, etc.); pulling off container lids (jala la tapa); taking pictures of the animals they found (saca foto de la roared; saca foto de la vaca, rana, rata; saca foto de su cara, pata, etc.); and comparing the features to find the right ones (?misma cara? ?misma pata?). The baby animals could see if the mama had the same cara or pata or left the same track paso.

Occasionally, words that fit a theme but not a targeted pattern would be included if they were relevant to the story and conveyed important content. For example, the word quebra [it broke] was used in the phrase "Se quebra la cama" ["They broke the bed"] at the end of the Casa de dormir [Napping House] story when the characters fell on the bed and broke it. In a digital book made about a digging and washing activity ("La rana cava y mama lava" ["The frog digs and the mom washes"]), the expression "!Que sucio!" ["How dirty!"] was included to express the mom's reaction when she found the frog digging: "La rana cava. Que sucio! Va a lavar. La Mama lava la rana." [The frog digs. How dirty! Go wash up. The mama washes the frog.]

Natural language. Linguistic factors such as predictable phrases and high-frequency words contribute to the naturalness of a text (Hiebert & Martin, 2001). When the language of a text is unfamiliar or awkward, the text won't be engaging.

Although they are primarily decodable, texts can also include predictable elements that will increase children's enjoyment and enhance reading performance by reducing the number of different words the children must recognize (Hiebert & Martin, 2001). Many of the computerized texts written for this project contained predictable passages. For example, a computerized adaptation of La casa adormecida incorporated the predictable phrase "Hay una ..." ["There is a ... "] each time a character piled on top of the bed. A digital book based on the enactment of Papa! (Corentin, 1997), a story about a boy finding a monster in his bed, used the repeated phrases "Que pasa?" ("What's the matter?") and "Mama (or Papa) dice, no hay un monstro" ["Mother (or Father) says, there isn't a monster"] each time the child said he saw a monster.

Another linguistic dimension that influences naturalness of a text is the presence of high-frequency words with grammatical, conversational, or expressive functions. High-frequency words in English often are not phonetically regular (e.g., words such as of and was); high-frequency words in Spanish, on the other hand, are regular but tend to be more difficult to read because of their syllablic and phonic structure. Such frequently occurring words in Spanish contain silent consonants (e.g., the modal verb hacer [to make] with a silent/h/), diphthongs (e.g., que [what] with the/ue/), and complex syllable structure (e.g., CVCCV in the word donde [where]). Examples of high-frequency words included in the computerized texts are dice [says], que [what or how, as in "!Que bonito!" or "How beautiful!"], esta [he or she is], and the exclamation !ay! used to express disgust or surprise.

Design Features. A text's potential for keeping a child's interest is influenced by features of the design, including the illustrations, effects, and layout (Hiebert & Martin, 2001). For example, if the navigation is confusing or the colors are distracting, the user's attention is drawn away from the activity. If good principles of design are applied, however, those same elements can have a positive effect on the users.

Illustrations. The digital books used in Project SEEL were illustrated with images of the children as they participated in small-group literacy activities or with clip art from online collections. In addition, images of puppets, dolls, cutout people, toys, objects, and familiar places were also captured with a digital camera to use in illustrating the books. Capturing images of the props in various actions and poses allowed for easy illustration of a story. In some cases, clip art and generic photographs were intermixed with personal ones. The combination of these various types of images made construction of the digital books easier.

Effects. Another design feature was the addition of simple effects and hyperlinks. These visual and auditory effects--sounds, animations, and transitions--were selected from available options provided in the packaged software. In a "treasure hunt" book, a specific sound would be made when the children attempted to change locations or open a container. When the treasure was discovered, a cheerful tune would play; if something unusual or disappointing occurred, the exclamation "!ay!" was heard. Interactive hyperlinks help enliven or animate a digital book. In PowerPoint, hyperlink buttons may be placed on the slides to allow the user to jump from one slide to another instead of just clicking the mouse and moving from start to finish.

Layout. Decisions for layout--the spacing or arrangement of the text--concern ways in which the printed words and images are physically arranged. In the digital books used in this project, designers often separated the phrases children needed to decode from those they could recognize based on predictable elements. In some places, these predictable elements were lined up in a column to differentiate them from decodable text. In the digital book based on the story Papa, the decision was made to place a sizeable space between the phrases "Mama dice" or "Papa dice" ["Mother says" or "Father says"] from what the character said. This arrangement of the text thus clued the children that they needed to decode rather than rely on their memory for repetitive phrases.

Certainly, choosing large and clear fonts is another important layout feature. The digital books created for Project SEEL used "kindergarten" fonts, such as Comic Sans MS, which takes the form of printed letters. These fonts were chosen to match the lettering the children encountered in school.

Connection of Texts to Curricular Themes and Contexts

The computerized materials were integrated into classroom contexts. Based on the curriculum, decisions were made as to which digital books the children would be able to access and how.

The digital books were based on themes that had been previously introduced in the classroom. Many of the computerized texts were personalized, interactive versions of printed texts that had been enacted and read in hard-copy or chart paper formats. Stories for digital books were developed from play themes that the children experienced in their small groups. For other books, entirely new stories were created that were "spin offs" from stories that had already been introduced. Specific target words were exemplified or incorporated in a new text to reinforce a phonic pattern. For example, after the introduction of the Cinco monos ["Five Monkeys"] text described in B. Culatta, Aslett, et al. (this issue), another text about monkeys was created that also highlighted the words mono, jala, rana, rata, and vaca and the expression "hay una" ["there is"]. In the story, a mono [monkey] gets stuck in lodo [mud], and a vaca [cow], rana [frog], rata [rat], and oso [bear] try to pull him out. Only the bear is successful.
   Hay un mono en el lodo. La rana jala el mono. La rata
   jala el mono. La vaca jala el mono. Hay un mono en el
   lodo. El oso jala el mono. El oso jala y jala y jala. !No
   hay mono en el lodo!

   There is a monkey in the mud. The frog pulls the
   monkey. The rat pulls the monkey. The cow pulls the
   monkey. The monkey is in the mud. The bear pulls
   the monkey. The bear pulls and pulls and pulls.
   There isn't a monkey in the mud!

Computerized materials based on targets introduced in the previous unit were made available at the computer station for children to access during free-computer and free-play times. Parent volunteers and the undergraduate student assistants oversaw the computer station, which consisted of three iMac computers. The parents and university students supported the children in navigating through the programs and in reading and writing. The computerized activities permitted the children to read decodable texts and fill in missing words from dictation. Each week, the teacher added one or two new digital books to the core of materials on the classroom computers.

Although most encounters with the digital books occurred individually or in groups of two or three children, some computerized reading and writing opportunities were presented at large-group instruction times. The teacher showed the materials to the whole group by displaying them on a classroom wall with a computer projector and supported the children in shared reading of the texts. The teacher also involved the children in interactive writing where they dictated their own ideas about pictured story events, following a language experience approach.

Other classroom encounters with the computerized materials consisted of having the children read the digital books to their parents. On occasional "movie days," parents were invited to view a showing of the materials, and the children would either take turns reading or engage in shared reading of the texts. Parents also were given the chance to observe their children read and write within the computerized formats during parent conference days. One of the undergraduate assistants was available to support the children as they read a computerized story or filled in missing words.

Appropriateness for Students' Cultures

Educators must consider the cultural appropriateness of materials incorporated into diverse classrooms (Reese & Santos, 1999). During Project SEEL, simple strategies were followed to ensure that the computerized materials fit within culturally appropriate practices.

One such strategy was developing the materials based on universal or daily occurring themes (Elley, 2001; Walker et al., 1992). Dealing with everyday events such as shopping for and preparing food, cleaning the house, and caring for animals or children is a fairly easy way to ensure content relevance. Including images of objects and characters from the children's cultural backgrounds or photographs of the children also increases relevance, ensuring that the text represents members of the children's own community.

The relevance of computerized materials may be enhanced by associating them with hands-on experiences (Langer, 2001) because connecting materials to first-hand experiences activates prior knowledge (DeTemple & Snow, 2001; Watson, 2001). In Project SEEL, the children identified with the digital books that referred to activities they actually experienced.

Evoking personal responses has also contributed to making texts relevant (Ada, 1988). Children can identify and relate to feelings associated with getting lost, being excluded, and other common human experiences despite differences in their backgrounds. Exposure to varied characters and story events is appropriate if children reflect on the emotional and experiential perspectives of the characters (Barton, 1996). Because children need to relate topics to what they know, teachers should elicit children's reactions to story events (Watson, 2001). A literacy program should activate children's voices and perspectives (Baker, 2001; Langer, 2001; Merritt, Barton, & Culatta, 1998). By evoking personal responses, teachers can address the needs of children from different backgrounds (Gee, 2001; Phillips, 1972; Watson, 2001).

Applicability to Other Classrooms

Because the computerized books and activities did not contain copyrighted material, the Project SEEL team was able to share them with other teachers. The computer activities were given to another dual-language kindergarten teacher in the same school district in Utah and to teachers working for the Rose Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Guatemala.

The materials could be shared without cost or compatibility issues due to the availability of free Web browsers and the PowerPoint player, which allowed the books and activities to be viewed on computers that did not have the software programs used to create them. Because the file sizes were small, the activities were transferred via a Zip disk or an e-mail attachment. The books and activities were also personalized by replacing some of the existing pictures with pictures of the children in the new classrooms.

In sharing the products across classrooms, the developers had to fit the materials to the children's backgrounds and base the content on universal themes, including content and photos from the children's own lives. In addition, they arranged personal experiences that related to the content of the digital books.

The creation of simple Web-based activities and digital books provided all the children with engaging opportunities to practice reading and allowed teachers to have quality materials at a minimal cost. Using this technique expanded teachers' educational resources because the products could be easily customized and shared.


Teachers of early literacy programs in Spanish can create and share additional resources by using customized digital materials. Of course, this presupposes that they have access to technological resources and will ensure that the materials are relevant to the children who will use them.

The use of computerized materials can help the teacher increase children's exposure to literacy patterns. Teachers can also support skill development and activate meaning construction. The addition of customized materials also increases variety and the amount of personal involvement in instruction. Using a variety of forms of exposure to literacy targets addresses the needs of children with different interests and from diverse backgrounds (Gee, 2001; Phillips, 1972; Watson, 2001).

Although the goal of Project SEEL was to use simple technology, the materials that were eventually created required a working knowledge of Web authoring and presentation software packages. Teachers interested in developing digital materials thus must have some technological resources. A teacher without basic computer skills would need some technology training to initiate computer-based instruction. Teachers with no prior technological experience might collaborate with other adults by requesting technology assistance from parents, community members, or other teachers or relying on school-based technology" consultants. That said, we want to emphasize that teachers need vision more than technological know-how to incorporate computer-based activities into a literacy program.

Because commercial literacy software is not readily available in Spanish, teachers may supplement their instruction by sharing teacher-made materials, thus increasing their access to resources in Spanish and contributing to the development of literacy programs, particularly in poor communities. Perhaps the increased availability of technology in progressive schools, such as those supported by the Rose Foundation, will stimulate the transfer of educational technology to other schools in the same locale. Teachers need to identify effective mechanisms for distributing shareable products both within the United States and with countries in Latin America. Sharing products across countries and cultures must be seen as a long-term endeavor that will only occur effectively with built-in evaluation components. Teachers who create or adopt materials must evaluate their relevance and be sensitive to cultural differences.

Although Project SEEL provided teachers with suggestions and guidelines for incorporating computerized and customized materials into early literacy instruction, more effort should be placed on developing and exploring the best ways to use and share digital materials. As Hiebert and Martin (2001) noted, "It is imperative that the research community join teachers and publishers in ensuring that the children of the digital age are initiated into literacy 'with the best possible texts and the best possible experiences with those texts" (p. 374).

EDITOR'S NOTE. This article is the second in a three-part series that details the implementation of a personalized and engaging program for early literacy instruction conducted in Spanish. The project, Systematic and Engaging Early Literacy Instruction, uses interactive and engaging activities to increase children's interest in and ability to read and write. Varied and personalized texts and activities were used to expose children to literacy patterns. The first article (Part I: B. Culatta, Aslett, Fife, & Setzer, this issue) described the project's purpose, activities, and texts. Part II details the processes and resources used for creating computerized books and activities. Part III, a case study, will appear in the Volume 25, Number 3, issue of Communication Disorders Quarterly.


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Richard Culatta and Barbara Culatta Brigham Young University Meghan Frost Alpine Public Schools Krista Buzzell University of Idaho

Richard Culatta, BA, is a graduate student in instructional psychology and technology and a technology consultant for the McKay School of Education. Barbara Culatta, PhD, is a professor in speech pathology and an associate dean at Brigham Young University. Her interest is the relationship between language and literacy functioning in children. Meghan Frost, BA, and Krista Buzzell, BA, are completing their graduate programs in speech pathology. Address: Barbara Culatta, McKay School of Education, 301 McKay Bldg.,
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Title Annotation:Systematic and Engaging Early Literacy Instruction
Author:Culatta, Richard; Culatta, Barbara; Frost, Meghan; Buzzell, Krista
Publication:Communication Disorders Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:Project SEEL: part I. Systematic and engaging early literacy instruction.
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