Learning to write without pen and paper
As laptops and tablet computers become more common in Swedish classrooms more and more children are learning to read and write without pen and paper.
“What’s good about this is that you can get results quickly. You’re not working with abstract letters”, says Erica Lövgren who develops reading and writing programs for schools in Piteå in northern Sweden.
Instead, she says children develop reading and writing skills by creating texts that they themselves would like to read.
In Munksundskolan, just outside the town of Piteå, a primary school class is getting down to an exercise about a fox – they are working in pairs and describing what the fox is up to.
Three teachers move around the class and help them with their writing. And the computer programme also helps by getting them to make the sound of the letters they want to write.
“It’s not very hard but sometimes it’s hard to find the letters”, says one girl as another shouts out the answer to the exercise as the group starts to read out what they’ve been working on.
Earlier this year, Education Minister Jan Björklund made headlines when he spoke out about classrooms that are taken over by tablet computers and laptops. But in Piteå and other northern schools traditional teaching methods go hand in hand with technology - teachers discuss exercises with the class in advance, getting students to read and make mind maps to build up their vocabulary and comprehension.
Erica Lövgren says children learn to use language better with computers and not just with pen and paper.
“They get a stronger feeling of who they are as readers and writers. They get a better vocabulary , in a richer, more nuanced way. And they are more aware of how a text is built up from an introduction to a conclusion.”
And when Swedish Radio asked the children at Munksundskolan what is so good about working with computers more than a few mentioned that you can also play games on them.
Reporters: Carin Sjöblom, Radio Norbotten with additional reporting from Tom Sullivan, Radio Sweden.