PCMS seventh-graders enjoy new reading tablets
When an Amazon box arrives on the doorstep, or in this case in a classroom, it brings with it a sense of anticipation and excitement.
“Today is an exciting day,” teacher Brenda Burke told her students as she slowly began to open the brown carton.
Before the contents were revealed she put the box on the floor in front of students who had taken seats on the classroom rug.
She selected a student to do the honors.
Reaching into the box, the student pulled out a smaller orange box. It only took a few seconds for the students to realizes what they were looking at — Amazon Fire tablets. The smiles immediately broke out onto the faces of those in her classroom.
Little did Ms. Burke’s seventh-grade class know, weeks earlier they had been working on a Google coding project, which just happened to be associated with the surprise Ms. Burke had in store for her students.
The technology, Ms. Burke told her students, would benefit their reading in many ways. First, they can download an e-book from the library immediately, they can look up a word they do not understand while reading and get a definition, take notes as they read as well as highlight portions of the text.
Once the students got a closer look at their new tablets, one of the devices was plugged in.
“It’s coming to life,” Ms. Burke said as the tablet’s screen began to glow and the word “Fire” spread across its screen.
For all the coolness and technologically advanced components the tablets have, they will be an important tool for students as they work to develop their reading skills.
Ms. Burke accessed donorschoose.org, a fundraising website in which educators can apply for monetary assistance in order to procure needed classroom materials. Donors can opt to donate funds for a specific classroom project in any amount they choose.
In this case, a portion of the money was applied to the project immediately by Google due to the completion of the aforementioned coding project her students had done. Staples and two anonymous donors covered the remainder of the cost to purchase 10 tablets.
In addition to the benefits to students to assist in improving reading skills, Ms. Burke hoped to get the devices for her students so they have access to technology, as many do not have computers at home.
A big benefit will be the fact that individual students will select a title of their choosing applicable to their reading level. In her reading and writing workshop, Ms. Burke has students whose reading skills vary. Because the books will be on a screen, whatever title is selected at whatever reading level will be discreet.
“It allows them to be on their tablet and read at their pace and keep improving,” Ms. Burke said.
Students will also have the option to select an e-book that interests them. In her workshops, Ms. Burke teaches a lesson about a specific component of a book, such as the elements of fiction or short stories. Students then get to select a book of their choosing in that genre.
“Students have a choice,” she said.
The next step, once the Fire tablets were charged, was to thank the donors for their contributions and get started on the next lesson: non-fiction.