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February 5, 2013

Students using e-readers see big boost in reading ability




What difference 

does it make?

Thomas said she had a student in her class one year who was a reluctant reader. One day, she looked up to see him with a Sony Playstation Portable in his hands during class.

As she made her way toward him, she noticed he wasn’t playing a game. Instead, he was reading a book.

She said the wheels began turning for her, then she was awarded WHAS 11’s ExCEL Award in May 2012. She got $1,000 along with the award and purchased the Kindles with a few books on each of them to use in her classroom.

But after trying to find resources online, she said most of the teachers who had introduced e-readers to their students just wrote about how to use them rather than incorporate the devices into the classroom.

“I didn’t want it to be something where we had the same group of seven kids and read the same pages,” Thomas said. “I wanted them to be independent and really get lost in the book.”

While she thought students might enjoy the e-readers, she said she didn’t realize it would make such a big difference for the ones who were frightened by reading.

With a Kindle at home, Thomas said she noticed students doing some things with them she didn’t expect. They were turning them sideways and increasing the font size.

After talking to some of the kids, she found it wasn’t because they couldn’t see the letters, it was because fewer words on the page made reading less intimidating.

One of her students, whom she did not name, didn’t read a single book last year. By October with the Kindle, she said he’d finished three.

“Once he took it, he was gone,” Thomas said. “He’s the one that told me it doesn’t look as scary to him, there weren’t as many words on the page and it didn’t seem like as big of a book to him.”

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