Friday, February 4, 2011

Education World > E-readers Bring E-xcitement And E-ase to Reading

Education World / E-readers Bring E-xcitement And E-ase To Reading / Cara Bafile

"There are many advantages to using the Kindle," shares Kathy Parker. "When students come across a word they’re not familiar with, they automatically use the dictionary feature to look up what the word means. Using that feature has become second nature to our students."

As a librarian at Seneca (Illinois) Grade School, Parker helps coordinate her middle-school students' use of Amazon Kindle e-readers in language arts/literature classes and self-contained classrooms. Students primarily use the e-readers to read titles from their independent reading lists. [snip].

"The book Savvy by Ingrid Law was read together in a seventh-grade literature class at the beginning of the school year to acclimate students to using the Kindle," Parker explains. "Our eighth grade students will be reading Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl later this year when they begin their Holocaust unit and research papers."


"The ability to change font size has impacted many of our readers, especially those who struggle. Since they’re not seeing as many words on the screen at one time, they’re better able to comprehend what they’re reading," reports Parker.

Another plus of the Kindle is its "text to speech" feature. Students who are strong auditory learners can use the feature to listen to higher-level novels than are typically in their reading range. [snip].

"Many students find they’re reading books at a faster pace, which enables them to read more books in the same amount of time," Parker observed.[snip].

Will DeLamater, an expert and the creator of the online resource EduKindle, has been instrumental in the development of Parker’s program. And Parker and her colleagues report that, to date, they’ve encountered no issues with the e-readers. [snip].



"E-readers are the next logical step for schools to take in keeping up with educational technological advancements," explains Patrick Mish, CEO and founder of M-Edge. "Most young people spend the majority of their day using some kind of electronic device, whether it’s a gaming device, a laptop, or a cell phone. E-readers bring something familiar and make reading more accessible to these young people. They are a tool to get students excited about books, reading, and learning."


Grants are available to assist with implementation of e-reader technology in the classroom, Mish advises, and M-Edge is currently collaborating with eReadia to host webinars that will give teachers and administrators advice about establishing an e-reader program. Beyond convenience, Mish sees money-saving opportunities for schools that implement e-readers: fewer new hardcopy textbooks will need to be purchased on a yearly basis and fewer handouts will need to be printed.



Reasons To E-Read

As CEO of M-Edge, Patrick Mish believes there are several advantages to using e-reader technology in schools.

* Accessibility: Required reading materials can be loaded onto a single compact device. Many classic novels no longer under copyright are free and easy to download, giving teachers and students access to books in a matter of minutes.
* Customization: E-readers enable users to resize fonts, and offer a text-to-speech function that’s been shown to help children with learning disabilities, especially dyslexia, improve their reading skills and comprehension.
* Quality: On-the-fly updates to electronic content deliver a much more accurate educational experience to students.
* Excitement: Empirical data suggests students who read with an e-reader read more books and read them faster.



In Pennsylvania, librarians in the Chambersburg Area School District are introducing e-readers in an effort to boost interest in, and facilitate, reading. Initial data suggests the project is working.


E-readers -- Kindles, Nooks, and even iPads -- are popping up in Chambersburg's elementary, middle, and junior high schools as well. Students are permitted to download free samples of books to determine if they might like to read the selections in their entirety, but the kids are not allowed to make purchases. They must fill out a "request slip" and ask a librarian to obtain a desired e-book. [snip].


"Gaining more e-readers is very much in our plans," Hammond explained. "We currently have several grant applications submitted which, if funded, will provide Kindles for the English Language Learners throughout the district and will bring iPads to the middle school library department. Wi-Fi Kindles already have been purchased for use in some of our elementary libraries, and they will be utilized as soon as the special Wi-Fi networks are set up at those schools."

E-readers Worth A Look

Before making a purchase, Patrick Mish recommends investigating a variety of devices to find one that will work best for students and the classroom environment. Special consideration must be given to the interface, which should be easy to teach with and simple for students to use. [snip].




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