Principal Addie Gaines, iCan Read Program, Kirbyville Elementary

We are blessed that guest blogger Principal Addie Gaines of Kirbyville Elementary School has written today’s article incorporating technology into the reading instruction at Kirbyville Elementary School.

Kirbyville Elementary First Graders Succeed (Addie Gaines)

Kirbyville Elementary School in Kirbyville, Missouri, implemented a tech integration program in its first-grade classrooms, iCan Read, which utilized classroom sets of iPads starting the 2013-14 school year. The program was primarily funded through Cagle Rural Reading. The program has yielded impressive end-of-year reading achievement results. Eighty-eight percent of the students scored at or above grade level according to the end of year Developmental Reading Assessment. In the second year, 87% percent of first grade students finished the year at or above grade level. These students are well on their way to a lifetime of reading proficiency, and a legacy of younger students await crossing the first-grade threshold to start their reading journeys as well.

According to the Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation, “One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade fail to graduate from high school on time.” (Hernandez, 2011. This is a rate four times higher than for students who are proficient readers in third grade.

First-grade students who end the year on or above grade level in reading are more likely to continue to be proficient in reading in third grade, which is a major predictor of future academic success and persistence to graduation.

Make no mistake, learning to read is complicated!

Students need to utilize multiple skills and strategies simultaneously in order to comprehend or construct meaning from text. These strategies include activating prior knowledge, decoding text (identifying words and understanding the meanings), visualizing, questioning, and summarizing. Students also must monitor their understanding and use clarifying or corrective strategies while reading. Proficient readers execute many of these complex processes automatically and often don’t realize all that they are doing to extract meaning from text. It requires hours and hours of guided instruction and practice for beginning readers to become proficient.

One key to unlocking the mystery of reading for young students is the integration of technology, such as iPads. Not only does the technology provide an interactive, multisensory, and hands-on way to engage with text and develop reading skills, it is motivating to the students, encouraging them to continue practicing these reading skills in a fun way. The apps are grouped on the iPad according to skill from the beginning of the year, with mainly easy apps. When the students are working in centers and are moving forward academically, the apps are grouped according to student levels. This allows for students to work on their individual needs as readers. The organization allows the students to independently access the apps they need during learning centers. The iPads are also used during reading intervention time during teacher-guided lessons.

Addie Gaines–Principal at Kirbyville Elementary School in Kirbyville, Missouri.

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