Dec 10, 2015
His gaze is fixed on the screen in his hands, and as others engage in activities a few yards away, he keeps his eyes on the device. He smiles and his face lights-up as he moves to the next level. This could be a child playing his favorite video game, but look again; he’s using an iPad and the internet to become a better reader.
Today, children and technology go hand- in-hand. Thanks to a grant from the City of Columbia, children attending St. Lawrence Place programs are getting more exposure to technology, while improving their reading skills. Stephanie Jefferson, Children’s Program Coordinator, says the iPads have improved the children’s attitude towards reading. The grant from the city supports the St. Lawrence Place Children’s Programs which provides a safe, nurturing, literacy-rich environment for children ages 4-12. The program is open to children living at St. Lawrence Place and those from the surrounding neighborhoods. Included in this grant was the purchase of 20 iPads for our children to use in conjunction with the Children’s Program curriculum.
Children use the iPads to improve their reading skills by accessing Raz Kids, a web-based reading and assessment tool. Children enjoy reading or listening to these interactive activities geared towards their reading level and want to read more, according to Ms. Jefferson. Quarterly reports gauge improvements in reading levels and identify if additional assistance is needed. St. Lawrence Place has also partnered with the Midlands Reading Consortium. “The Midlands Reading Consortium volunteers give our children that extra help and encouragement needed to become proficient readers” added Ms. Jefferson.
To date, 44 children have participated in the program, with 80% percent maintaining or improving their reading levels. A national research project on student computer use found improvements in academic performance, more engagement in class, and increased graduation rates among students with one-on-one digital learning access. Children think using iPads is fun, but they are also closing the digital divide found in many low-income households while gaining important skills for their future success. St. Lawrence Place is excited to expand the digital learning part of its curriculum.