Digital Book Push On in Liberty Schools

Coastal Courier | December 4, 2016

By Tiffany King - staff writer and Managing Editor of Liberty Magazine

The numbers speak for themselves.

Liberty County School System students have read 115,629 books during 32,362 hours of reading since the beginning of the school year. 

That equates to approximately 1,348.416 days of non-stop reading.

It is all happening through MyOn, the personalized literacy program that provides a large digital library. The program is web-based, allowing students to access approximately 10,000 books and textbooks from iPads and computers. It features literacy tools for students, assessments and metrics to allow teachers to monitory activity and growth.

MyOn provides fiction and nonfiction books for grades K-12, categorized by various genres, topics, grade and lexile levels.

Assistant Superintendent Susan Avant said third graders have read 26,682 books in 5,462 reading hours, and second grade has read 20,670 books with 3,547 hours.

The district rolled out the program October 2015 for kindergarten through eighth grade. This past August the high schools were given access to MyOn.

Avant said that the program gives students access to books for book reports, research, projects and independent reading. Students can also read for fun based on their interests and reading level.

"MyOn can be used for collaboration and feedback between teachers and students. Teachers use MyOn to monitor student’s progress and growth and differentiate instruction," Avant said.

She said feedback from students, parent and teachers has been positive and teachers are seeing the program’s academic value and ease of use.

Hannah Cota, a teacher at Frank Long Elementary School, incorporates MyOn in her classroom instruction. She works with teachers in helping students reach reading and math standards and offers reading comprehension on different core content subjects, such as science and social studies. Tracy Cantrell teaches gifted students in sixth through eighth grade language arts at Snelson-Golden Middle School and uses MyOn every day.

When the district first started with MyOn, Cota was a huge fan.

She uses MyOn throughout the school.

"Every grade level has different strength and weaknesses. So for the babies we just get on there and they just listen to the books so it can model fluency for them. That’s something they need to know, that when you’re reading you’re not always going to be breaking up every word and sounding it out," Cota said. "For the older kids you can do projects. The teacher can go in and create a project and they can do the quiz afterwards. They can do a graphic organizer or writing project."

The program grades the quizzes and allows teachers to see students’ answers, eliminating grading stacks of paper.

Students can use their iPads to log into the program and work in small groups or independently, based on their comprehension level.

"It’s really great because they enjoy this program. It’s almost like they don’t understand that this is helping them but it is," Cota said, adding that she has noticed lexile levels increasing among students.

Cantrell has extended reading time every morning at Snelson-Golden.

"I do that because some aren’t going to read on their own. And plus I think it’s important for them to see that reading is a part of school and we take it seriously," Cantrell said. "They enjoy it, so that’s when we use it the most."

When Cantrell first started using MyOn she was overwhelmed. That changed.

"With MyOn you can see not just what they’re reading but how many minutes they spend and whether they start and stop a book. A lot of times they’ll start a book and read two pages and that’s it, and I can see that. I can see that you’ve got it open but aren’t doing anything with it," Cantrell said.

As of Nov. 18 Snelson Golden students read 10,379 books with 5,602 reading hours. Cantrell’s students have read 620 books. Frank Long Elementary students read 15,372 books with 3,475 hours.

The only drawback for Cantrell is the need for more book options for middle school students with high reading levels. She said there are plenty of options for sixth graders, but the choices for seventh and eighth graders are limited to classic novels.

"The problem with being in seventh grade and having a pretty high lexile, like college level, you can find books at that lexile but they are not appropriate for a 12-year-old. So the classics are more appropriate and at a higher level. I have one student who started reading Charles Dickens," Cantrell said.

Cantrell believes that more options will be available as books are added to the program.

Cota hopes to see a feature where quiz questions are read to children.

"There’s words in the questions that the younger kids don’t understand and they can’t answer them. Some teachers will read the questions to the kids in small groups," Cota said.

Still, some students prefer to read paper books opposed to digital. They like to feel the pages in their hand, which Cantrell said she likes as well.

"I don’t have a Kindle. I like to read the actual book," Cantrell said. "The whole thing with personalized learning is that’s OK. If that’s your way of doing it then fine. I give them that option. I want you to go on MyOn, but if you want paper that’s fine too, as long as you’re reading."

Her eighth graders read John Steinbeck’s "Of Mice and Men" and the school did not have the paper books. They used MyOn which also had a pdf format of the story.

"Some of them wanted paper, so I made copies for those students and the others used their iPads and they loved that book," she said.

Cantrell believes students should be able to read more at home.

"MyOn is available at home and since our students have iPads grades four and up, there’s no reason they should not be reading at home."

Go to the Article