Inspiring young readers

By Kim Robins - Posted on Jan 26, 2011 - 03:52 PM

If you are still having trouble mastering the Kindle you got for Christmas, there are some second graders at Petsworth Elementary School who can help you out with that.

Petsworth teacher Sharon Carino is utilizing the portable electronic book, or "e-book," readers in her classroom and finding it helps get her pupils interested in, and excited about, reading.

Photo: Petsworth Elementary School teacher Sharon Carino has introduced Kindles to her students as a new way to deliver reading instruction. Above, her colleague Margaret Watkins showed James Constable how to use the portable e-book reader. Photo by Kim Robins.

Petsworth Elementary School teacher Sharon Carino has introduced Kindles to her students as a new way to deliver reading instruction. Above, her colleague Margaret Watkins showed James Constable how to use the portable e-book reader. Photo by Kim Robins.

Photo: Sharon Carino’s students at Petsworth also utilize Neo2’s in their classroom. Above, second grader Lauren Harvey uses the portable keyboard to practice her math skills.

Sharon Carino’s students at Petsworth also utilize Neo2’s in their classroom. Above, second grader Lauren Harvey uses the portable keyboard to practice her math skills.

Looking for a new way to deliver instruction, Carino spent some of her summer researching the use of e-reader Kindles in the classroom. She found most use had been in secondary schools, where they are being utilized in place of textbooks, and not at the elementary level. So she loaded a Kindle with some age-appropriate reading for her 9-year-old niece and used the fourth grader as a "guinea pig." "She loved it, and she can take it anywhere she goes. It’s kid-friendly," Carino said of the results.

Carino’s students, and other students at Petsworth, also utilize another tech device called a Neo. The Neos were introduced by the school division technology department a couple of years ago and have been used by some teachers. Twenty-five of the units fit on a portable cart and teachers sign up for their use.

The Neo has a keyboard and a small screen, and is primarily used for word-processing. It can also be used with the Accelerated Reader program and Carino additionally uses a math program and the responder feature with her students. Her students enjoy working with the Neo, but it’s the book-sized Kindle that really seems to draw the children to the fundamental exercise of reading.

Obtaining Kindles for her classroom was an obstacle, but Carino made a pitch for their use and eventually got six of them. Four were purchased with grant funds obtained by her, a parent donated one and a retired teacher donated another.