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LNESC Launches Young Readers Pilot
- By Mike Hohenbrink
Latino students in grades K through 2 are the focus of a program that will use iPads and other technology and a specialized curriculum to improve reading skills for more than 400 students in 15 markets through the efforts of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and corporate sponsorship.
LULAC National Education Service Centers (LNESC) and the Verizon Foundation are partnering for the Young Readers and Early Adopters effort, which targets areas of low-income that typically see lower overall performance scores on a variety of assessments.
With a $250,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation and supplemental support from Procter and Gamble, LNESC has undertaken a redesign of its national Young Readers program that allows for incorporation of the latest Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and new technology.
In addition to helping students, the effort will also work with educators to improve teaching, particularly in terms of helping teachers to use new technology.
As a prelude to the rollout of the effort, an initial pilot program at Beaver Ridge Elementary in Norcross, GA saw 15 students work with two certified educators and seven iPads four days per week. The school currently serves nearly 1,200 students with a sizable Latino presence.
"During the school year, it was hard to understand one of my student's ideas," said Anna Smith, co-Young Readers teacher at Beaver Ridge Elementary School. "She struggled with expressing herself on paper. However, through the iPad applications we use in the pilot program her amazing ideas finally came out. The added technology has been a great motivator and outlet for creativity."
The school will continue to be served by the program during the upcoming 2012/2013 school year. As part of that, teachers will receive continuing instruction on how to best incorporate technology into the classroom.
Technology such as smart boards and iPads are key components of the effort. As part of the initial pilot program, students each created an e-book that featured text, pictures, and audio clips.
"We witness every day the manner in which technology rapidly evolves to create new ways to access information, communicate and learn," said Jason Resendez, LNESC director of corporate relations and development. "Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of low-income and underprivileged youth who simply do not have access to the latest technology or the broadband Internet access that it requires to enhance their educational experience."
LNESC was set up in 1973 to help such students across the United States and on the island of Puerto Rico and has helped more than half a million students to date. More information is available at lnesc.org.