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Sixth-graders use technology to advance reading skills

Student working on iPadSchuylerville Middle School students in Laurie Guyon’s sixth grade English class are using technology to help grow their literacy scores.

Guyon was one of two teachers piloting the app “LightSail” for the 2015-16 school year. Her students read independently on LightSail as part of their 40-minute ELA block. According to the app’s real-time reading assessments, Guyon’s students grew their literacy scores by 2.5 times historical levels from fall 2015 to spring 2016 and one student even advanced multiple grade levels.

“The assessment data shows that my kids are growing tremendously,” Guyon said. “In addition to these numbers, I can see this growth in my classroom as I read and grade their short responses — they are so much better than the beginning of the year!”

As a class, the sixth-graders read more than 700 books. The availability of titles allowed students to branch out, from “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” Guyon’s class completed nearly 63,000 minutes of reading.

“They started reading a lot more nonfiction than I would have expected, on topics that I didn’t realize would be appealing, like tornados or recycling, and even got into biographies,” Guyon said.

Guyon is encouraging her students to continue to use the LightSail app over the summer to help prevent what many refer to as the “summer slide,” the phenomenon of losing knowledge while away from school on summer vacation.

“If students continue to show excitement for reading over the summer, they’ll come back to school in the fall ready to learn,” Guyon said. “We look forward to continuing to use this and other apps to enhance the way our students learn.”