Technology and Increased Student Reading and Learning

Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) was a federal grant that impacted many Great Prairie Area Education Agency (GPAEA) middle school mathematics classrooms during its first six years.  When re-applying for funding in 2009, an analysis of GPAEA student achievement data revealed that 8th grade reading was the lowest percent proficient for all students when compared to reading, math, and science grades 4, 8 and 11.  Another requirement of the grant was that the instructional strategies had to be research based with student data collected. Second Chance Reading (SCR) was a state supported initiative that met these criteria and many GPAEA schools were already participating in SCR, so middle school reading became the focus for EETT support. Forty-two Middle School Reading Teachers and approximately 500 students participated in “Technology Enhanced” SCR.

Background
Second Chance Reading classrooms are typically for students in grades 7-10 that are reading one or more grade levels below current grade placement.  It is not intended for all students or students that read below 3rd grade level.  Districts set their own entrance and exit criteria based on multiple data points.  Success means students build habits of reading, improve their reading skills and scores, and move out of the Second Chance Reading programs into grade level English/Language Arts courses.

What technology was added?
Interactive whiteboards and handheld voting devices enhance existing SCR strategies including:

  • pair-share;
  • numbered heads together drill;
  • partner practice during Read Aloud/Think Aloud;
  • comprehension activities of cooperative comprehension, dictated writing, inductive thinking, round table, and critical reading of persuasive writing; and
  • vocabulary pairs and quizzes.

A limited number of Kindles, Nooks, iPods, and iPads were also made available for student use. Teacher tools included a laptop computer, flip camera and access to a project wiki.

Professional Development
Seven days of initial Second Chance Reading training were required before adding four summer days of technology training.  The first two days focused on interactive whiteboard training and using the voting devices with the last two days focused on integrating and managing the iPad, iPods, Nook Readers, and Kindles.  During each school year, teachers participated in two professional development days (one each semester) for additional demonstrations, planning and practice of strategies and collaboration with other SCR teachers.  An AEA Reading Specialist and the GPAEA Technology Team provided on-site support.

Excerpts from the External Evaluator Report:

  • “For 2009-2010, a total of 117 students scored at the 41st percentile or higher on ITBS.  This yielded a percentage of 41.2% of students considered proficient.”
  • Data that demonstrates student progress is the average annual number of vocabulary words learned per student. For 374 students this average was 194.5 words, which indicates a substantial growth in vocabulary for the students.
  • The average annual number of books read per student points to increased reading comprehension and vocabulary awareness (an average of 12.3 books per student for the year).
  • Gains in all areas of student assessment show the positive impact that access to technology and online resources is having on students.” (9.21.11)

Sustainability
Trained Tech SCR teachers will continue to use the reading strategies and technology skills. The most important benefit from this project for teachers will be setting their own student success criteria based on their own class data.  Two professional development days in 2012-13 will continue to allow teachers to integrate Iowa Core literacy standards, increase use of Gradual Release, and work collaboratively to increase skills and problem solve SCR and technology issues. As many districts move to 1 to 1 initiatives, more technology will be available for all learning including reading.

GPAEA Tech SCR Participating Districts:  Cardinal, Davis County, Fairfield, Keokuk, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Tri-County, Waco, Winfield, Van Buren, Albia, Central Lee, Keota, New London, Pekin, Sigourney, Wapello, Wayne, West Burlington, New London

What are participating teachers saying?

  • “Students LOVE vocabulary practice and quizzes on the iwb!”
  • “The electronic quizzes (variety of questions) force kids to own the words more than our typical fill-in-the-blank sentence type quizzes.”
  • “They” love the pictures for vocab!! (Vocab scores higher too!)
  • “The wiki is a plus plus!”
  • “Students were excited to use the Kindles & iPods.”
  • “We are using Active Vote quizzes on Friday instead of paper/pencil.”
  • “We are using the Promethean Board every day.”
  • “Using reading contracts to set monthly goals – kids like it!”
  • “We are reading lots of books.”(1 student had read 18 books at the end of the first semester.)
  • “Using content area material for round table shows kids that there is an application of our SCR work in other classrooms.”  

Author:
Lisa Jacobs
Instructional Technology
800-622-0027 ext. 5257
Lisa.jacobs@gpaea.org

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