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February 5, 2013

Students using e-readers see big boost in reading ability

FLOYDS KNOBS —  

He just didn’t like to read.

Michael Atwood, a seventh-grader at Highland Hills Middle School, had no interest in picking up a book and finishing it from one cover to the other. 

Then, something changed after the beginning of this school year.

“If I go [to the library], it’s hard to find a book and they don’t have a lot of books I like,” Atwood said. “But with a Kindle, you can read really fast because you can personalize it to you. It makes me feel like I’m pushing right though the pages.”

A Read 180 class in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. is giving the rest of the district a preview of what could happen when technology is introduced to every student in the classroom. Carla Thomas, who teaches the class, purchased seven Amazon Kindles with money she was awarded last year.

Thomas’ class helps students who are reading below their grade level catch up with their peers. Even though she’s only had half a school year with e-readers in the hands of her students, she said the results have been huge.

“For me as a reader, what I’m seeing is that I’m having conversations with kids about books,” Thomas said. “Before, it was staged, I was rehearsing what I was going to say to them. Now, they’re coming up to me, showing me things they’re reading and talking to me about it.”

In her class, she uses a Lexile scale — a standardized measure of reading ability — to gauge where a student stands with their peers. Typically, she said teachers in Read 180 shoot for gains of 50-100 Lexile points in a year.

Since she started with the Kindles in August, she said her students have already increased at an average of 200 to 250 Lexile points, some seeing as much as a 500 point gain.

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