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February 5, 2013

Students using e-readers see big boost in reading ability




Reading at home

Abby Durrett, a seventh-grader and a couple of her classmates have e-readers of their own. Durrett and another student, Mason Carte, have Kindle Fires. 

Thomas said Carte and another student get together, read the same book and discuss it with each other. She said she never thought students would spontaneously begin their own discussion groups.

“He and his friend read the same book, talk about it and keep up with each other on it,” Thomas said. “It’s organically, naturally happening. Where if I would have assigned it, I would have dragged them kicking and screaming into the assignment.”

She said a couple of other features help children boost their confidence in reading: The Kindles are always the same thickness and built-in dictionaries help with words they don’t understand.

Durrett said she likes being able to look up a word on the fly with her e-reader. 

“I think they’re cool because if there’s a word you come upon and you don’t know it, you can press it and the Kindle gives you the definition,” Durrett said.

Since August, Durrett has improved her Lexile score by 400 points and is reading one grade level ahead of her peers.

But the reading scores alone aren’t improving. Some students are able to read without assistance for the first time in their lives.

Thomas said she also has a couple of Kindle Fire tablets in her classroom, which are more like a computer. She said since students with motor-skill issues, such as cerebral palsy, can’t turn a page on their own, they have to let a teacher know when they’re finished with a page.

Now, they can move their hand across the surface of the computer and turn the page by themselves.

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