In the elementary school library, fostering the love of reading is my greatest objective. Knowing that not all children will “love” to read, at least I hope to encourage the development of reading skills as a foundation for the other subject areas that they experience at school. Weekly library sessions are a time of choice, where students can select what interests them versus the classroom reading assignments.
I have observed various levels of interest and enthusiasm for choosing library materials. Many know what they want and where to find it. These students are generally confident learners or excited about what is found inside of books. Another population of students benefit from some direction or suggestions to help them make choices. A third group of learners include struggling or reluctant readers and a fourth group is made up of students who display no interest in selecting materials of choice. This fourth group includes learners with a variety of reading skills, many very capable, simply not interested.
In my second year on the job, with the help of a colleague, I introduced audio books on ipod as a library item for check out. The targeted audience was the emergent reader however student interest across the board was so high that we expanded the book selections to appeal to the greater community. These audio books serve their purpose well, supporting readers and providing pleasure or entertainment. Yet, there still is that fourth group of kids who find nothing appealing in the library. My research question is a result of this curiosity.
Q: What happens when students read and listen to electronic books?
- Will students be newly motivated to read?
- Will comprehension improve by hearing the audio book as well as reading the text?
- Will reader engagement increase, shown by completion of books or students following through with the use of technology?
- What barriers will arise that prevent students from having success with the electronic books?
Journal notes: At weekly library time, demand for iPod touches increases when others observe iPod touches being checked out.
- When I promote them, they are always in use.
- Shy or reluctant readers, whom I hoped to attract, usually approach me to talk about an iPod touch at the end of the library hour, when I have another class coming in. I often have to invite those kids to return later, so we can complete a check out.
- Students learn how to navigate the apps quickly, maximizing their efficiency.
- They teach one another with ease.
- Listeners can stop and restart the audio version at exact points, making the iPod touch much easier to use than the shuffle.
- Economically, the Kindle version of books stretches my budget dollar significantly. The titles cost between $6 and $12 and can be played on 5 devices, with no wear and tear of pages, corners, or bindings and require no shelf space.
- Titles that I purchased without printed copies, have not been explored as much as I had expected.
- OBOB is taking place in the same time period, focusing the readers to particular titles.
- My target audience of readers who show little interest in checking out materials, did try iPod touches but did not use AR tests to provide me with measurable data about comprehension or that would indicate that books were completed.
- Feedback from teachers: A wide range of student reading levels are using the iPod touch
- High interest level! Students were willing to work ahead to earntime to use the iPod touch.
- Not disruptive to others.
- Very engaging.
Barriers that I have noticed:
- Keeping it charged, recharging at school must be done in a locked cabinet.
- Students have to take the initiative to pick up and return a signed permission slip.
- There is often a waiting list and kids do not have the freedom to come at will throughout the week to check out when it is not their class library time.
- The one week check out is too short for the student who is reading a 15 hour book, or two.
- The issue of security of the devices casts a dark cloud over the student as I coach them about responsibility, appropriate use, suggestions for safe keeping.
- They are usually returned late.
- Marketing the devices takes my time and energy.
WHAT I KNOW AND HOW I KNOW IT:
The technology attracts some readers who may otherwise not select library materials for choice reading at all. The data collected by the library software, shown in graph form, supports this conclusion. In addition, my contact with such students has increased, allowing me to further encourage the use of library materials, or reading in general during our conversations.
From student interviews I have drawn the following conclusions:
- Students find the size and mobility of the iPod touch convenient. It can hold great amounts of text without the bulk or weight of traditional printed books.
- When students encounter an obstacle while using the iPod touch, they are resourceful, and seek a solution with no guidance from me. They communicate their issues and offer me the solutions that they have discovered.
- The features of the iPod touch are much friendlier for students hearing full length novels than the shuffle. Users can change the narration speed, stop and restart accurately as well as fast forward or reverse, to reinforce a particular point in a book.
- The use of the iPod touch as an electronic reader continues to increase in our library as new users are seen by other students with the device. When I promote it’s use, there is always a spike in demand.
From surveys I learned that even with very simple “If yes” instructions, students distort the results by not following directions. Survey writing allows bias to influence results.
- 33 % of the population has not provided the permission slip.
- Another group of 39 % had no interest. 13% thought is sounded fun, 7% have their own iPod touch.
- Of those who have checked out an iPod touch, the feedback was mixed, the data is attached. The process of giving the survey renewed interest for some, generating 2 new permission slips as well as comments that were added saying “ I forgot about it, left my form at home etc”.
I have concluded that having iPod touches available as a library item for check out is valuable to our students. The operational difficulties are manageable, as we have responded to them and implemented changes to procedures. Therefore, I will continue to promote their use within the 5th and 6th grade classes by restating the need for the permission from parents, having current users offer verbal testimony at library time, and take requests for new titles that I will purchase. I will also speak with the four teachers of grades five and six about using the existing titles in small novel groups this spring. If it appeals to students who use the iPod touch for assigned reading in class, I would expect and increase in demand to check out an iPod touch for choice reading. While preparing for
this presentation, I created a printed catalog that students can view to see which titles are on the iPod touch, before deciding to check one out.
I wonder how I could manage sharing our books with students onto their personal devices. I would need to check into the licensing agreements. Surveys indicated that several students own an iPod touch so they did not wish to check one out. Of those students, I wonder if any have the Kindle app, own or borrow electronic books. How much more work would that create for me?
Although I have so few devices available, should I expand the check out period so that readers can finish more material before the due date? I would likely have a longer waiting list, which may cause students to give up on the idea or lose enthusiasm.
iPod touch interview
What did you like about reading books on the iPod touch?
- I liked it better than reading a regular book.
- It was easy to carry, no pages to turn or stick together. Nice and compact.
- I could read in the dark.
- I could mark my page, like dog earring paper.
- It’s cool, cause its tiny.
- It is easy and slim
- The pages seem small, with only a few words on them.
- It can be too sensitive, the pages turn with such a light touch, sometimes by accident.
- It makes my eyes tired. The light dims quickly if you are not turning pages.
- Can’t use finger to follow along or it turns pages
If you listened to the audio version while reading the text, please share your comments.
- I could multi-task while listening and not pack around an actual book.
- Narrators made the book sound more interesting.
- I could speed up the rate of narration so it was read faster, or slow it down.
- Listening also slows me down. It stops me from overlooking a section. I hear it.
- I can see the word and hear the pronunciation.
- It can be hard to end the listening and reading in the same spot.
- I could have a bunch of books at once, with out carrying a stack.
- I could change the screen brightness and color scheme, but more colors would be nice.
All students interviewed would recommend this reading technique/device to others.