Wicked Problem Project Design Template

PART A: The Wicked Problem - A Need or an Opportunity

  1. What is the important educational need that you are seeking to address? This element is fundamental in this project. Since we have limited time, energy, and resources, cool technology without a clear sense of why it matters or what we gain by it is of little value in the educational setting.

Using eReaders (Kindles) to Improve Reading Comprehension and Fluency

I believe your “need” is for students to have access to “just right” books without classmates knowing what level they are at; however, it is not clearly defined in your plan. Please make it clear what the need is.

Educational Need

I teach 4th grade in East Lansing, Michigan.  My school services students from 48 different countries speaking 46 different languages.  With the large English Language Learner (ELL) population, as well as the different reading levels of the general education students, there is a need for students to have access to “just right” books without classmates knowing what level they are reading.

Using Technology to Address an Educational Need:

In 4th grade, we are using a Reading program called the Daily CAFE.  This program helps students focus on four key reading components (Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Extending Vocabulary).  By introducing an eReader, like a Kindle, students can work on each component individually or in unison by reading texts in digital format.  The digital text can be manipulated by the reader, and that has been proven to increase accuracy and fluency, and in turn, extends vocabulary and increases comprehension (see notes).

 

By using Kindles in the classroom, students will be able to read books, magazines, and blogs that are at their “just right” reading levels.  Many struggling readers and English Language Learners are embarrassed to read books at their instructional level because they want to read popular chapter books or more difficult books to “fit in” with their peers.  By using a Kindle, no one can tell which book a student is reading.  Therefore, a student can choose from a library of developmentally appropriate texts in a comfortable setting so he/she can consistently read at his/her own instructional level.

 

Also, the assisted reading capability of the Kindle allows students to listen to audio books and have digital texts read aloud.  This models fluency for English Language Learners, struggling readers, and grade level readers.  Additionally, by using this feature, all readers are able to have book discussions with peers regardless of reading level.

 

In addition to reading, the Kindle can support Science and Social Studies.  Being able to download books, blogs, newspapers, and magazines within 60 seconds allows teachers and students to be up to date on current events and news.

 

 

Why Technology?

Since everyone learns differently, it is the teacher’s job to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every child in the classroom.  One way to do this is to use Kindles.  The text size, spacing, and leading can be adjusted to suit the needs of individuals.  Studies have shown that children read better and prefer to read books with larger text sizes (see notes).  However, as reading levels increase, the size of the font in printed books generally decreases.  Some children are intimidated by the text size and will not pick up the book, regardless of its literary merit.  Therefore, the Kindles will increase motivation, reading fluency, and comprehension in struggling readers, English Language Learners, grade-level readers, and above grade-level readers by allowing text size preference.

 

The following research proves this further:

  • Students improved between 41% and 70% on their SRA Reading scores after one year of large print remediation, gains that continued during summer breaks, unlike the typical loss from regular print books.
  • Because there are fewer words and those words are easier to decode, struggling readers make substantial progress with comprehension, tracking, and fluency, all while making fewer decoding mistakes. Additionally, research shows that fewer words on the page lower anxiety levels in struggling readers.
  • At least one aspect of format — font size or style — was an important factor for 70% of the children when making book selections. Statements by the children regarding font revealed that they based their book selections on the legibility of the text.
  • Students were able to read books on a higher reading level when the books were Large Print, as opposed to only being able to read on- or below-grade level books in regular print.

Overall, fluency and comprehension is promoted by allowing students to adjust the size and layout of the font.  In addition, the read-aloud feature of the Kindle models accuracy and fluency which can lead to better comprehension.

 

Notes:  All claims about the pros of text size came from citations in:

 

Hughes, L. E., & Wilkins, A. J. (2000). Large Print and Reading Independence. Journal of Research in Reading. 2-12.

http://www.edukindle.com/category/kindles-impact-on-student-reading/

 

 

What is the collaborative nature of this proposal?

Students will be able to use the Kindles to collaborate with each other at Red Cedar and other people throughout the world.  By using the synchronization that is available on the Kindles, students will be able to see each other’s notes and highlights in the books they are reading.  This could lead to dialog between students in both 4th grade classes.  In addition, there is a feature called “Popular Highlights”.  With this feature, students can see the most highlighted passages in a text by the millions of Kindle customers in the world.  This can help readers focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people.  In turn, this collaboration can lead to deeper thinking, understanding, and dialog.

 

Kindles that are available for check out will be a great motivator for family literacy projects.  It can be difficult to get parents to read with their children at home.  By sending home the Kindle, children and parents may be more motivated to read because of the novelty of the new technology.

  1. How you plan to address this educational issue with technology?  You need to make a clear and convincing case that your proposed solution will make a real impact on the issue you identify, and that your proposed approach is a reasonable approach given its costs and possible alternatives.

  1. Logistics of solution: For example…

  1. What is the scope? (e.g., when and where will tool be used and for how long? Who all will use it?)

Logistics:

I plan to have my students use one Kindle, one iPad 2, and one iPhone 4 in my classroom until the end of the school year.  Both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 have the Kindle app.  Since we have only three weeks until summer break, I will choose three students to try out the different devices.  By using these three different devices with varying screen sizes and capabilities, I plan to ask my students which device they preferred to use for reading.  In turn, I will use that information to purchase or apply for grants for either iPads, iPod Touches, or Kindles in the future.

  1. Relevant research and resources (from the Internet and elsewhere) including reports on the closest effort you can find to what you are planning to do as well as ideas and materials you may be able to build upon in your own effort.  Your description should include:

  1. The results of your search (What resources may help guide your project? What resources may help in the implementation of your project?)
  2. What you learned from performing this search. For example, which search engines did you use? What strategies did you use? What helped or hindered your search? How would you search again next time?

Resources

-  All claims about the pros of text size came from citations in:

Hughes, L. E., & Wilkins, A. J. (2000). Large Print and Reading Independence. Journal of Research in Reading. 2-12. http://www.edukindle.com/category/kindles-impact-on-student-reading/

-  Ning for educators who use eReaders

http://edukindle.ning.com/

-  The Kindle Chronicles (Podcast)

http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/

I used Google to search for articles, blogs, and research that supports my idea that students will be more comfortable, be more motivated, and learn to read better by using an eReader.  In the future, I would like to find more research from credible sources so I can eventually write a grant for a classroom set of eReaders.

  1. A plan for the portion you will implement during this course and the portion you will implement after this course completes.

My Plan for This Year and the Future

I plan to have three students use the Kindle, iPad 2, and iPhone 4 during reading time until the end of the school year.  They will have access to the devices for about an hour a day and will be reading the same books.  I will meet with each student every day and have them switch devices so they can get familiar with all three.  In the end, I will survey each student individually to find out which device they prefer.  In addition, I will ask if they think they read faster and understand more by reading a traditional book or if they liked the features of the eReaders.

Unfortunately, we have only 3 weeks left of school so I will have to rely on surveys from my students.  Next year, I will do an initial reading assessment and reassess after a few months (AIMS Web Reading for fluency and BRI for fluency and comprehension).  I will compare the results of the students who use the eReaders with a control group of students who do not.  

Ideally, I will have enough eReaders for every student to access if he/she chooses.  I’m thinking positively!

  1. How would you know you were successful?

How will I know I’m successful?

My reading inventory will let me know how the students feel about using an eReader for a short period of time.  If they are more motivated to read, understand more of the content, read more fluently, pick “just right” books, and beg for reading time; I will know this proposal was successful!

PART B: Application of TPACK: Basic description of each of these areas and important characteristics of these areas as related to this project

  1.  What is the TP knowledge for the solution?  (i.e., how does the technology you have chosen support the teaching strategies and methods you have chosen?)

By using the eReaders (Kindles), I am not changing the way I teach.  In stead, I am enhancing the time that students would normally read independently by offering a tool that can make their choices more private.  In addition, the book can be individually customized to each child’s preferences and be read aloud for those struggling readers or English Language Learners.  The content and pedagogy remain constant while the technology is used to enhance learning.

By using the eBook devices, teaching will be enhanced.  Students already read independently every day.  However, there are times when I feel students pick a book just because everyone else is reading something similar, and not because it is at their instructional level.  In the past, I have had a student put an instructional book inside of a chapter book so they feel more comfortable reading in front of peers.  By having access to an eReader, the hope is that students will not feel the same pressure because their choices can be more private.

Just as I would have a student read independently with a traditional book, I would do the same with the eBook.  However, now I can encourage students to pick books at their “just right” levels and trust that they will read what is appropriate for their reading levels.  Additionally, by having access to the audio feature of the eBook, students can listen to modeled reading.  This gives struggling readers and English Language Learners more opportunity to listen to how the book is supposed to sound.  While I will still model reading aloud to my students, the addition of this technological tool will provide more opportunities for students to listen to reading.

  1. What is the TC knowledge for the solution? (i.e., how specifically does this technology make the content in your problem more intellectually accessible?  Be sure to think about representation.)

By using eReaders, compared to traditional books, students have access to more learning and organizational resources.  For example, there is a dictionary tool built into the eReader.  When a student comes to a word that is not readily known, he/she can move the cursor to the unknown word for an instant definition and pronunciation key.  While I will of course still teach decoding strategies and how to figure out what words mean in context, this tool can help build vocabulary and extend comprehension of the text by allowing students immediate feedback to questions they have as they read.  

Also, the highlighting and note taking features allow students to track their reading and questions throughout the book.  This may lead to greater documenting, understanding, and rereading for important details.  Without the assistance of these tools, many students will not take notes or highlight because the books they read generally belong to the school and such writing would destroy the book.  Additionally, I have tried the strategy of using sticky notes to accomplish the same task.  While some children like to use the notes to document vocabulary and questions they have; others become frustrated with the messy notes cluttering their books.  Generally, the sticky note craze lasts for about a month before students give up.  Teaching about the integrated tools of the eReader can be very valuable because students can track their reading without running out of supplies or destroying the look of a book.

  1. What is the PC knowledge for the solution? (i.e., how specifically do your pedagogical choices make the content in your problem more intellectually accessible? Be sure to think about how the student will experience the content given these instructional strategies.

Students need to independently read throughout the day to develop background knowledge, learn vocabulary, and practice fluency (with the ultimate goal of comprehension).  To make the time that the student does this more valuable, it is important that he/she reads at an instructional reading level.  While I will still directly teach students comprehension and decoding skills, the aid of the eReader will help students apply those skills to a book at their “just right” level as they independently read.  I will use the books that students read as a springboard to teach more vocabulary and background knowledge about the topics in the books.  

The content of the eBooks are represented visually and students have the choice to turn on the auditory function to have the eBook read aloud.  This is especially important for students who are struggling readers or English Language Learners.  By listening to a voice model good reading, those students get an idea of what the text should sound like.  By being able to manipulate the font, students can choose to have less words on a page, more leading between the words, and increase the font to a size that is comfortable to read.  The content is the same, but the representation can change based on individual preference.

Part C: Implementation Journal - You will need to implement a small part of your project. You will need to take notes on the implementation. Specifically you will need to report on the following key aspects of implementation:

  1. Surprises

  2. Unexpected bumps in the road (What would you revise)

  3. Delights (What went well)

  4. Pictures and/or vignettes

For my Wicked Problem Project, I chose 3 girls to test out 3 different, but similar, eReaders so they could report back what they liked and didn’t like about each.  They used a Kindle, an iPad 2, and an iPhone 4 (both loaded with the Kindle app).  The idea is that the iPhone 4 has the same size screen as an iPod Touch.  The purpose for using the different devices was to find out which technology the students would ultimately be most comfortable reading on and why.  

This was all done to tackle the problem of students choosing “Just Right” books for their reading levels (despite what the book looks like, how big the font is, or if the books is a chapter or picture book).  In 4th grade, I’ve found that many kids want to read chapter books and they will often choose books that are above their reading levels because they are influenced by what their peers are reading.  Since I have many ELL and Title I students in my classroom, I wanted to use eReaders so no one can tell what book a child is reading.  By doing this research, my plan was to get some student feedback so I can decide which device I would like to write a grant for in the future.

I had 2 weeks to implement my plan, and what I found was a little surprising.  I had a feeling that the girls would all choose the iPad as the winner because of its novelty (and because it’s just a cool device), and I was right.  However, they all liked that device the best because they liked to change the background color to black with white text.  That was not possible on the Kindle.  They could do that on the iPhone, but the size of the screen was what turned them off about that device.  I was definitely surprised by their visual choices (and that all 3 girls liked the same background) because that is the background that I never choose while reading.

 

I was not as surprised to find out that they also liked the iPad because you could highlight in yellow instead of black, they thought the pages were easier to turn, and they could make the font size much larger.  They all complained that when they tried to change the pages on the Kindle, sometimes it would skip 2 pages instead.  That really frustrated them.  I realized then that I showed them how to use the Kindle, but I didn’t let them play with it for long.  Therefore, they didn’t really know how to use all the features and they didn’t get the knack for changing pages.  I use this device all the time, and I’ve never had that problem, so I was a surprised when they ALL said that’s what turned them off the most about the Kindle.  I asked them if they had a little time to learn more about the Kindle and how to change pages if they would like it better, and they all said yes.  They were used to the other devices because we’ve had the iPad for a few months and one of the girls has an iPod Touch at home.  They didn’t have as many technical difficulties with those devices.  I think they were actually all surprised that they liked the Kindle more than the iPhone.  They all had preconceived notions of which device they would like the most, but 2 of them completely changed their minds after reading on them for a few days.  I wish we would have had more time so I could have more confident opinions, but it’s the end of the year.

This leads me into discussing some of the bumps in the road we had during this implementation.  The first bump happened when I realized that I forgot to download the eBook I wanted the girls to read onto the Kindle and iPad before I left from home.  We don’t have Wifi at my school, so I ended up using a book that was already downloaded on all 3 devices.  It probably wasn’t the best choice, so I will definitely remember to do that before I have kids read on a device in the future.  It also brings up the problem I may have if I get a classroom set of iPads, Kindles, or iPod Touches.  I will either have to take the devices home (or to a place with Wifi) or spend more money to get 3G capabilities.  I hope that my school will get Wifi before I have to make this decision, but it’s definitely something to think about.  Bringing home 3 devices wasn’t that big of a deal, but 30 is a totally different story.

Despite some relatively small bumps in the road, I was absolutely delighted by the students’ enthusiasm for reading when they were able to use an eReader.  The girls  who took part begged me everyday for reading time.  In fact, 2 of them emailed me at home to make sure that I didn’t forget to bring the devices. They were the first ones in my classroom in the morning so that they could double check that they were able to read on the eReaders.  There could be many reasons for their enthusiasm, but I was excited that they were excited to read.

In the future, I would like to apply for a grant for eReaders.  I will use the information I gained from this test drive to help decide which device I will write the grant for.  However, I’d like to test this out with a few other students with different learning styles, different reading levels, and English Language Learners.  I feel like this research isn’t complete because some of the key features that I believe could help children read were not used by the girls who tested the devices.  For example, struggling readers and ELL students could benefit from using the Kindle because it can read aloud to you.  The iPad and iPod Touch do not currently have that feature.  The girls didn’t use this feature because it slowed down their reading, but I think that would be an amazing feature for students who need English books read aloud for modeling.

Overall, it was VERY interesting to have the students use the devices, compare them, and take ownership of telling me what they preferred and why.  If nothing else, these girls took pride in their opinions and were excited to help me with this project.  It was nice to see them take ownership and feel like they played a key role in MY education.  Of course, they all want eReader now, so I guess that’s an issue their parents can tackle this summer.  I LOVE to see this kind of enthusiasm for reading!.

Please note: This posting to your blog must be a podcast. (An audio file posted to your blog -the blog will generate the RSS feed)

Part D: Findings and Implications

  1. Formative: Did the project get implemented as planned?

The project did get implemented as planned.  I had 3 girls use the 3 different devices (Kindle, iPad 2, and iPhone 4).  They were able to read “just right” books without anyone else knowing what they were reading.  In addition, the girls were able to customize the text to their preferences and use any features they felt were suitable for independent reading.

  1. Summative: Evidence of success in addressing the problem of practice

The biggest success I saw was that the girls were even more motivated to read.  They all started out skeptical, but now they all want either a Kindle or an iPad 2.  One girl said that she will now use her iPod Touch as an eReader.  She didn’t think she would like the interface  before this project, but she quickly changed her mind.  The girls emailed me at home, found me bright and early in the morning, and begged for the devices to read all day.  If that’s not reading success, I don’t know what is.

Another project success is that other students were not able to see what the girls were reading.  They actually didn’t even ask.  I was really surprised by that.  I thought the other students would be hovering around to check out the ebooks on the devices, but they just did their own thing.  

  1. How would you approach another project of this type differently given what you’ve learned here?

I wish I would have had more time to have more students try out the devices.  The girls who participated are avid readers.  I would have liked to try the device with struggling readers and ELL students to see if they would have used the audio feature.  Additionally, I would have been interested to see which settings they like and what features they would use.  I would also like to see if the struggling readers self-pick “just right” books more frequently on the Kindle or on the bookshelf.  More time would have been amazing!

I was not able to measure if the girls’ reading fluency and comprehension increased because of the time limit on this project.  If I had more time, I would assess the students before using the devices.  Then I would reassess after a few weeks.  I would do the same thing with readers who are not using the devices.  That way I could compare the results.

  1. What are the lessons learned that others might benefit from knowing about?

The biggest lesson I learned is that you need to download the ebooks to each device BEFORE you come school if your building does not have wifi.  I knew that before, but I still forgot.  I could have plugged all the devices into the computer to download that way, but it would have taken a lot of time.  I need to learn to work with what I have and plan ahead.

Also, when you introduce a new device, it is imperative to give the students some time to just play around and get familiar.  I did training, but I did not give the girls time to just play around.  I think that the complaints the girls had about the Kindle could have easily been fixed or eliminated by allowing them to explore before I did training.  That way, they could come up with questions and ask before they got started reading.

  1. In what ways will you endeavor to do the same project again, and what will you change or not do?

I will start out the school year by having students get familiar with the Kindle and iPad 2.  They will have time to explore and read for enjoyment.  By the time everyone has had a chance to check out the devices, I should know who may benefit the most by using them.  I will then show those students how to use the features and pick “just right” books.

I would also like to apply for a grant for a classroom set of Kindles or iPod Touches.  Even though the 3 girls enjoyed reading on the 1) iPad  2) Kindle  3)iPhone 4, there are so many more ways to use the iPod Touches (similar to the iPhone).  I will do some more research this summer and chat with my district’s Technology Director to get more information before I make a decision.

I am glad that I took the time to do this project because I was able to research what other educators are already doing, survey students on their preferences, and motivate 3 girls to read even more.  If I were to do another project in the future, I think I would set it up about the same way I did this time.  The difference would be that I would give myself more time for implementation, research, and trials.  Overall, this was a very worthwhile project that has motivated me to apply for a grant that will greatly benefit the students in my classroom.

Script for Final Wicked Problem Project

Intro Slide

Hello and welcome to my Wicked Problem Project presentation for CEP 812.  This is Mary Wever, and I’m a 4th grade teacher at Red Cedar Elementary School in East Lansing, Michigan and a student in the Masters of Educational Technology program at Michigan State University.

Problem Slide

The Problem

For this project, I was asked to find an educational need that could be solved or improved upon by using technology.  As a 4th grade teacher, a majority of my day is focused on literacy, so I thought I would think about how I could use technology to raise my students motivation to read as well as increase comprehension and fluency.  

My school services students from 48 different countries speaking 46 different languages.  With the large English Language Learner (ELL) population, as well as the different reading levels of the general education students, there is a need for students to have access to “just right” books without classmates knowing what level they are reading.  Of course, everyone wants to read Harry Potter in 4th grade because it’s cool and everyone else is doing it.  However, it’s not appropriate to read a book at that level if you aren’t able to decode or understand vocabulary at grade level.  As a teacher, I encourage students to read at their “just right” levels because that’s how they improve as readers.  On the flip side, I totally understand that it could be embarrassing to read a flimsy picture book when your friends have a 3 inch thick novel they are eating up.

Solution Slide

That’s why I’ve been thinking long and hard for a solution for this problem.  I thought, if there was a way that students could read books at their “just right” levels, therefore increase their reading level quicker, they could be on the road to reading the books their friends are enjoying at a much faster pace.  But in order for them to read at their “just right” level, they would also need something private.  Instead of hiding lower level picture books inside chapter books, I thought of a technology tool that could help.  I starting researching eReaders like the Kindle, iPod Touch, and the iPad.  These devices would allow any student to pick any book and read in any chosen format.  Great!

Research and Preferences

Since everyone learns differently, it is the teacher’s job to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every child in the classroom.  One way to do this is to use eReaders.  The text size, spacing, and leading can be adjusted to suit the needs of individuals.  Studies have shown that children read better and prefer to read books with larger text sizes.  However, as reading levels increase, the size of the font in printed books generally decreases.  Some children are intimidated by the text size and will not pick up the book, regardless of its literary merit.  Therefore, by allowing children to choose their preferred text size, eReaders will increase motivation, reading fluency, and comprehension in all readers.

Since there is already a lot of information out there about the benefits of using eReaders to enlarge font, I wanted to extend that one step further by asking students which device they preferred to read on and why.  That way I can make a more informed decision about preference when I apply for a grant in the future.  

Logistics

This project was implemented within the last 3 weeks of school.  I chose 3 native-English speaking girls who read above grade level.  I picked students who are able to use technology efficiently, could read the same book at the same level, and were able to communicate effectively how they felt about using an eReader and their preferences.

The girls used one Kindle, one iPad 2, and one iPhone 4 (which could be compared to an iPod Touch).  Both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 have the Kindle app.  By using these three different devices with varying screen sizes and capabilities, I  asked my students which device they preferred to use for reading.  I’m glad I added this part to my project because I actually learned a lot about student preferences.

All 3 girls used all 3 devices several times throughout the 3 weeks.

TPACK

By using the eReaders, I am not changing the way I teach.  Instead, I am enhancing the time that students would normally read independently by offering a tool that can make their choices more private.  In addition, the book can be individually customized to each child’s preferences and be read aloud for those struggling readers or English Language Learners.  The content and pedagogy remain constant while the technology is used to enhance learning.

Just as I would have a student read independently with a traditional book, I would do the same with the eBook.  However, now I can encourage students to pick books at their “just right” levels and trust that they will read what is appropriate for their reading levels.  Additionally, by having access to the audio feature of the eBook, students can listen to modeled reading.  This gives struggling readers and English Language Learners more opportunity to listen to how the book is supposed to sound.  While I will still model reading aloud to my students, the addition of this technological tool will provide more opportunities for students to listen to reading.

By using eReaders, compared to traditional books, students have access to more learning and organizational resources.  For example, there is a dictionary tool built into the eReader.  When a student comes to a word that is not readily known, he/she can move the cursor to the unknown word for an instant definition and pronunciation key.  While I will of course still teach decoding strategies and how to figure out what words mean in context, this tool can help build vocabulary and extend comprehension of the text by allowing students immediate feedback to questions they have as they read.  

Findings

What I found in the end is that all 3 girls preferred reading on the iPad 2.  They liked the screen size, how easy it was to turn pages, and they also liked to read white font on a black background.  That is the preference that was the most surprising to me.  I wouldn’t think that they would all choose that layout, but they said it was their favorite.  They also liked that you could highlight the words in yellow instead of everything in black and white on the Kindle.  Though they could do the same on the iPhone interface, they were turned off by the small size of the screen.  The girls also liked the Kindle, but they found that sometimes they would turn 2 pages at a time instead of just one.  Plus, the Kindle doesn’t allow you to change to their favorite white on black layout.  I asked if they would have liked the Kindle better if they had more time to become familiar with it, and they all said that they think they would.  The one thing that the Kindle has over the other 2 devices is that there is an auditory reading option.  I’m not sure why the Kindle app on the iPad and iPhone do not have that awesome capability, but it is definitely a downside (especially since I’d like to use these devices with struggling readers and ELL students).  

 

This leads me into discussing some of the bumps in the road we had during this implementation.  The first bump happened when I realized that I forgot to download the eBook I wanted the girls to read onto the Kindle and iPad before I left from home.  We don’t have Wifi at my school, so I ended up using a book that was already downloaded on all 3 devices.  It probably wasn’t the best choice, so I will definitely remember to do that before I have kids read on a device in the future.  It also brings up the problem I may have if I get a classroom set of iPads, Kindles, or iPod Touches.  I will either have to take the devices home (or to a place with Wifi) or spend more money to get 3G capabilities.  I hope that my school will get Wifi before I have to make this decision, but it’s definitely something to think about.  Bringing home 3 devices wasn’t that big of a deal, but 30 is a totally different story.

Despite some relatively small bumps in the road, I was absolutely delighted by the students’ enthusiasm for reading when they were able to use an eReader.  The girls  who took part begged me everyday for reading time.  In fact, 2 of them emailed me at home to make sure that I didn’t forget to bring the devices. They were the first ones in my classroom in the morning so that they could double check that they were able to read on the eReaders.  There could be many reasons for their enthusiasm, but I was excited that they were excited to read.

Looking Ahead

The project did get implemented as planned.  

In the future, I would like to apply for a grant for eReaders.  I will use the information I gained from this test drive to help decide which device I will write the grant for.  However, I’d like to test this out with a few other students with different learning styles, different reading levels, and English Language Learners.  I feel like this research isn’t complete because some of the key features that I believe could help children read were not used by the girls who tested the devices.  For example, struggling readers and ELL students could benefit from using the Kindle because it can read aloud to you.  The girls didn’t use this feature because it slowed down their reading, but I think that would be an amazing feature for students who need English books read aloud for modeling.  More time to do research would have been fantastic!

Overall, it was VERY interesting to have the students use the devices, compare them, and take ownership of telling me what they preferred and why.  If nothing else, these girls took pride in their opinions and were excited to help me with this project.  It was nice to see them take ownership and feel like they played a key role in MY education.  Of course, they all want eReader now, but I guess that’s an issue their parents can tackle this summer.  I LOVE to see this kind of enthusiasm for reading!