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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Getting kids to read, one Kindle at a time

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A student demonstrates her Kindle to superintendent Noreen Bunt and members of the Ruthven-Ayrshire school board. In class, the students gather in groups of 2-4 to read, based on their reading level. Connie Larson, Title reading instructor, has found that having the devices gets the students excited to read.
The Title reading class at Ruthven-Ayrshire schools found a way to get excited about reading again. Connie Larson, K-12 school counselor and Title reading instructor, bought Kindles with money she earned through a grant.

"Quite often, with reluctant readers, including technology helps the kids get excited about reading again," Larson said.

The grant allowed her to purchase 15 Kindles, along with a number of books that the students can read according to their reading level. The class started out by reading aloud together, then moved onto reading independently.

"Our youth today is a technology group," Larson said. "You have to find a way to hook them."

But, she said, she was very particular in choosing the style. She didn't want to get a touch-screen because she wanted the students to still get the sense of turning the page, even by just pressing a button. She chose not to get the Kindle Fire because she didn't want the students associating reading with gaming.

And, in the three months that she's had with the new devices, she's been impressed with the results. In addition to the excitement of the students, the Kindles have been very cost-effective. She buys only one copy of each book, instead of five or more. She then downloads the book to each of the devices separately.

Right now they're used primarily with the elementary students, but other classes and schools are taking notice. Emmetsburg schools has already written a grant.

But, even in a technology age with tech-savvy students, Larson is quick to add that digital books are not the complete solution for reading in the classroom.

"It doesn't necessarily replace children's picture books," she said, "but it's excellent for when they start reading chapter books. It's very convenient."

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