December 7, 2010

Digital Book Club

When I first heard the news of Bronx Green's latest technological advance - IPADS! - I was immediately excited. When I first learned that not only would I be receiving one, but also receiving an additional two for STUDENTS, the excitement turned to nervousness. How will I use them? When will I use them? What will we use them for?

I thought about these questions a lot...but the answers didn't arrive. So...I decided to table those thoughts and trust that the answers would eventually come. They did. And of course, during a very unexpected time: during a silent independent reading period with class 605.

During my previous years in the classroom, I made a conscious effort to read silently WITH my students. Throughout the course of my graduate education, I had read numerous studies that pointed to the following: children are more invested in reading when they see adults reading. I didn't totally buy it. I wasn't sure reading engagement was that simple. However, during that point in my teaching career, getting students to read silently for an extended period of time was a struggle to say the least. I was willing to try anything...

When I began reading in front of my students, the result was amazing. Students were curious, engaged and excited. "What book is that, Ms. Scott?" "Do you like it?" "What's it about?" "Do you have an extra copy? I want to read it!" Unfortunately, I haven't had as many opportunities to read in front of students this year as in the past...but once I did, that's when the idea for Ipads took off.

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Johnson gave me a copy of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. "You have to read it," he said. "Amazing." He happened to give me the book right before I had to teach 605, a class with students who are chatty, hyper and distracted. Because of my curiosity, I took out my new book and opened it up while 605 was "silently" reading. Within minutes, students were staring, asking me questions. "What is that book, Ms. Scott" "The cover looks so cool...can I read it?" And so...we have the birth of a digital book club.

The students who were asking the most questions about my book are some of my highest level readers - who are exactly the type of students I'm assigned to target with this technology. After class, I pulled them aside and asked them if they would be willing to stay after school one day a week for an Ipad book club where we could all read the book they saw me reading in class. "Of course!" "Yes!" "When do we start????"

Once I downloaded the book from kindle (sorry iBooks, you don't have enough choices for me), we were ready to begin. In order to prepare for our book club on Wednesday afternoons, I have the students read on the Ipad during independent reading. Just last week, the students were so engaged in the book, they asked me to keep going. THEY READ FOR 90 MINUTES...silently...independently...excitedly! Then, during the actual book club after school, I was utterly amazed when students were teaching me how to use the app, how to highlight text, how to makes notes, how to record questions, how to bookmark a page, etc. Simply amazing.

I can't wait to see just how far reading with an ipad can go. I even have some students who have yet to show an interest in reading asking me for when their turn will be to read on the ipad.

Next step? Figuring out how I can more students to have access to ipads so all students can learn to love reading just a little more.


  1. Lauren, it has to be a great feeling having kids be so enthusiastic about reading! I know that the Kindle app on my Android phone has me reading more than ever, and I already read a great deal.

    Do you think it has to do with initial excitement, or do you think it can last?

  2. As a teacher, I'm curious. Did it cost money to download the book Maze Runner onto the iPads? If so, how much? Were you charged per download, meaning if you downloaded the book to 3 iPads, you had to pay 3 times? Or, once you downloaded the book, you could put it on as many iPads as you wanted? And, once downloaded, is the book on the iPad "forever"? What about when students share iPads? What happens to their highlights, notes, etc. when another student uses it?