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Reflective Summary: Using e-learning to improve reading comprehension.

School Type

Fairlie Primary School is a rural school in the Mackenzie District.  It is 45 minutes north of Timaru and has a roll of approximately 120 students.


Fairlie Primary School is a part of the Aoraki Rural Cluster.  Every school in the cluster has identified a “Teaching as Inquiry” focus.  This inquiry question and focus has been closely developed with our peers and colleagues. 

The focus for this question: how ICT Tools, strategies and thinking can be used in teaching and learning to improve student achievement in a selected aspect of learning.

The lead teachers have modeled this focus and action plan to staff, and they in turn have developed their own.



We aimed to increase student engagement in a text and hence their comprehension, and introduce a class (and teacher) to use of the IWB at the same time. The activity we chose was to compare a book and a movie. We used a flipchart which contained relevant activities, and created pages to record students’ discussion.


The text we chose for this was the book and DVD movie “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg.


This activity supported the schoolwide aim to increase comprehension in literacy, in this case through text-to-self and text-to-text connection.


Impact on Students

We started by reading the book to the children and guiding a discussion around the “polar” theme. Using the IWB as a note taking tool, we recorded the children’s thinking as they offered ideas about the polar regions. We googled various terms like “arctic circle”, “polar bears”, and “crevasse” to find images that could enlarge the children’s understanding.

The pages of the Polar Express flipchart provided further focus on aspects of the story, and particularly on the use of images to create mood.


Subsequent watching of the DVD in class led to more discussion around the difference between the book and the DVD, and the use of voices to create moods as well. At least one child found the video disturbing to watch and this (along with my own developing distaste for the story and particularly the DVD)  resulted in a lack of enthusiasm in following through with this project. This was compounded when a first return to the library IWB failed as the afternoon sunshine through the skylight rendered the images on the screen invisible, and the second attempt failed due to an inability to calibrate the pens. Frustration!

Next Steps


I need more time to become competent in the use of the IWB and in creating and accessing suitable flipcharts. While hardware is not the focus of our ICT developments, I am hobbled by my lack of expertise. I can only hope that I develop some skills before the equipment becomes redundant!


In terms of children’s literacy, next steps will be to continue developing comprehension through making connections, and accessing images and information from the internet to enhance this. Recording children’s learning through programs such as photostory is also an important next step, both to provide evidence and to develop stronger engagement with texts.