Personalized Learning as a Strategy for Student Engagement and Intervention
In September of 2012, Mark Isero, our amazing literacy coach, began his Kindle Classroom project at Envision Schools. The goal of this project was to improve our students’ literacy skills by engaging them in reading for pleasure. This project was something that he started while still a classroom teacher. Luckily for us he has decided to continue the project by involving the teachers he was coaching who are interested.
Every Wednesday the coaches meet at our Support Office. And every week I watch Mark happily open the packages he receives from his amazing donors. Packages arrive from all over the country and sometimes internationally. I am always so excited for the students, and for Mark. The program is currently running in 1 classroom at Envision Academy, and in 4 classrooms at Impact Academy, with a total of 86 Kindles in use. According to Mark “9th grade is a pivotal year, not just for reading, but also for academics and I see the connection between developing the two.” This is why he has chosen to focus the Kindle Classroom project in 9th grade.
So what is the project? Essentially, he gives the Kindles to students so that they can read. Of course, they could also read a paper books, and some do. However, we recognize that our students are products of their environments and using technology is simple part of their reality. The Kindles are both highly motivating, the students have access to several books and don’t have to wait to be at the school library (or city library). Lastly, for many of our students the Kindle is their at home technology providing them with a tool that they might otherwise not have. Bottom line – it is engaging and relevant.
And yet, the Kindle Classroom project is also so much more. This project allows teachers to target students’ reading levels and provide appropriate choices. This means that students who have the most catching up to do can spend their time reading and not worrying about what their classmates are thinking about the ‘childish’ looking cover on their SSR book (SSR stands for Silent Sustained Reading). The Kindle provides pure privacy and thereby minimizes the would be social distractions.
Simply having the ability to choose one’s books, however, does not necessarily improve reading. The other amazing affordance of the Kindle Classroom project is that students can individualize their reading experience based on their learning needs. For example, some students really need to listen to the book being read aloud while they read along. This is actually a feature of many reading intervention programs and there is much evidence that this is a successful intervention strategy. Only having choice, or only have individualization does not necessarily lead to better results. But this is where the Kindle Classroom project is so different from other initiatives–the Kindles can provide both individualization and choice – engaging readers at all levels so that they can enjoy the simple act of reading.
For more details about the students’ experiences and to find out how to support the project, please visit: iserotope.com