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February 5, 2013

Students using e-readers see big boost in reading ability



“It’s taken the simple act of turning the page and given them that level of independence,” Thomas said. “They can go ahead and get lost in that book now.”

She said giving students a computer in their hands has come with a few lessons she’s learned, as well.

Along with manually restricting wireless network access and blocking some features of the e-readers to keep students focused, she said she still finds out something different students might do with them in the classroom.

But, she said, the key for her was to work with the students, not rebuke them.

“They’re very open and honest with showing you the workarounds, so you have to work together and foster that kind of environment in the classroom if it’s going to work,” Thomas said.


What’s next

The district has had serious discussions about laying infrastructure for a 1:1 initiative, which would put some kind of personal computer in the hands of every student to use in classes.

Steve Griffin, principal, said he thinks some of what Thomas is doing with her class is just the beginning of what the district could look like in the next few years.

“The kids in our building now and all of the buildings are digital natives,” Griffin said. “They’re so used to that, it almost seems strange to them to come in and see these old-fashioned textbooks we use. I think the wave of the future is having something kids can interact with... .”

Thomas said there’s still a long way to go with some students and she’s already looking at ways to reach them through technology.

She said with a series of other reading intervention programs on computers, some students are catching up that way. She also said she’s working with the school to create an audio library, where students can borrow an iPod loaded with books that include sound effects while a reader acts out from the text.

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