Curtis Fundamental Elementary Uses Kindle to Enrich Reading
Elementary school librarian Jan Hager wanted to introduce e-readers to her school to motivate students and enhance their learning experience with new technology. Hager is the library technology specialist at Curtis Fundamental Elementary in Florida and says the school's "strong collaboration among staff, students, and mandatory involvement by parents has resulted in school scores that exceed state and district expectations each year".
Using capital outlay funds reserved for school equipment, Hager began by purchasing 73 Kindle e-readers for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes. To help teachers become familiar with using Kindle, the school’s faculty participated in a professional development study, delving into the book The Art and Science of Teaching using Kindle.
Once Kindles were introduced to students, fifth grade teacher Jennifer Neubauer used them in class book clubs and specialized learning programs for both struggling and advanced readers. Select students were even able to take their Kindle e-readers home for a summer reading program. Teachers began using the features like highlighting to build vocabulary skills, text-to-speech to improve phonemic awareness, and flexible font sizes to address the unique reading needs of students.
Third grade teacher, Giovanna Thomas, noted that Kindle at Curtis Fundamental Elementary school meant teachers and their students now had greater access to book titles for class reading. A teacher could think of a book, purchase it, and distribute it to their entire class in minutes using Whispercast. With physical books, procuring a classroom set of a particular book could take weeks. This increased access allowed their students to read together.
After surveying its students, Curtis found that there was a clear increase in motivation. "With Kindle, students are highly engaged and willing to read for longer periods of time," reports reading tutor, Debbie McCarthy. This increased motivation did not go unnoticed. Soon enough the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) funded a second set of Kindle e-readers for the school to build upon the successes of the first Kindle program. Now in its second year, the most recent set of Kindles were purchased using district referendum funds approved by the county's voters.
Even second graders have begun to use the Kindle as they transition from short story books to beginner chapter book series. While teachers are able to leverage the features of Kindle in their teaching, the clearest outcome is a renewed student interest in reading. "They want to read longer because they're on Kindle; they'll stick with it longer," Hager says. When it comes to elementary school reading, "sticking to it" could not have started at a better time.