Year Round Learning: the Freedom of Digital Access

We’ve mentioned the proliferation of e-books in the marketplace and the profound impact they are already having in the sphere of education.  Recently, the School Library Journal also made note of this trend, and explored its implications in schools and libraries across the nation. As SLJ reported, “…a majority of elementary school librarians said they either will (18 percent) or may (46 percent) purchase ebooks in the next two years.”  This shift could bring significant changes to the way students and parents access the resources their school provides. 

Checking out books from the school library will start to take on a new meaning as more teachers and parents insist on 24/7 access in school and at home.  Instead of waiting for library day at school, students can log in at any time…and browse digital bookshelves.  In some media centers, children may be able to borrow Nooks and iPads to take home.

And digital libraries would be free of the constraints of the traditional school year calendar.  We’ve long been proponentsof increasing students’ access to books, particularly during the summer months.  Unlike a conventional library system, access to ebooks provides students with the resources of their school’s library year-round, and at the touch of a button.

SLJ also points to “states and school districts [that] are starting to make deals with ebook companies to provide yearly subscriptions to thousands of students at a time.”  As most states face dramatic budget cuts, such deals may make increases in book selections possible for school libraries that could not otherwise afford to expand their collections. 

As we pointed out, Capstone Digital launched its myOn readerearlier this year with great success.  This personalized reading platform provides access to thousands of ebooks and incorporates the power of the Lexile Framework for Reading – not only providing students always-on digital access, but allowing them to read targeted text within their area of interest.

Publishers, like Capstone Digital, and many others, are making great strides in ensuring that students have access to books year round.  Digital access means that students across the socio-economic spectrum are free from the constraints of calendar and location and have the ability to keep reading and learning all year long.

Self-Selecting with The Lexile Framework for Reading

Here’s an encouraging story on how Stamford Public Schools in Connecticut are using The Lexile Framework for Reading to allow more choice during student reading time:

The Stamford Public Schools district is using a new model for literacy at the elementary school level. The curriculum is unique to the district. It is based on the America’s Choice model, according to Laura Lynam, the teacher in 256 who also served as a member of the elementary literacy curriculum committee.

In this new system, students have more choices than in previous years. Each student in 256 gets to pick a “just right” book to read during reader’s workshop time. These books are organized into blue bins according to their lexile level; blue-bin books in Lynam’s room run the gamut between the 350 level and 1,000…

There’s plentiful research on both the positive effects of self-selection in allowing students to select their own reading material as well as matching students to texts targeted at their reading level.  Stamford Public Schools are putting that research into practice and it appears to be paying dividends:

Before this year, students would read specific books during assigned reading times rather than plucking one from the bin. This new choice has boosted enthusiasm, Lynam said.

“They’re actively engaged,” she said.

Typically, students read their blue-bin books for about 20 minutes a day.

“If they could, they’d read for 40,” Lynam said with a laugh as she stood near her desk. David Torreswas sitting in Lynam’s seat with a book flat on her desk, reading comfortably. Other kids were strewn about the room, curled beneath the easel or against a pillow, books in hand.

While reading and writing workshops each have hour-long time slots each day, literacy takes up more than 120 minutes of the school day. The kids also fit in small windows of time during which they are allowed the read their second, “just for fun” book, which can be from any lexile level.

Good luck getting the 256 kids to put those books down quietly.

“All right friends, put your books away,” Lynam said after a few minutes of just-right reading in the afternoon as the clock indicated it was time for science.

A massive moan erupted from 20 mouths: “Noooooooooooooooooooooo.”

It’s good to see the Lexile Framework being used to engender such a strong love of reading among young students.

MetaMetrics is an educational measurement organization. Our renowned psychometric team develops scientific measures of student achievement that link assessment with targeted instruction to improve learning.