Impacting ELA engagement

Literacy solution myON expands reading resource options in Idaho district

A wealth of choices. Accessible at home or at school. Both fiction and nonfiction options. Those were the qualifications for new ELA software for the 37,000 students of West Ada School District in western Idaho.

“We had other instructional reading tools, but they were very expensive and did not provide content at the time” says Laura Gilchrist, ELA curriculum coordinator.

And many digital book providers limit the number of checkouts a user has at a time, as well as the number of students who are allowed to check out a specific text at the same time. One that does not have these limitations is myON, which West Ada’s superintendent discovered in 2011.

Fulfilling specific needs

myON is an online literacy program that offers more than 10,000 digital books. Assistive reading tools such as word lookup and annotation drive engagement and help students improve their close reading skills. Tracking time spent reading at the individual, class and grade levels is easy for educators through the administrative platform.

“We also enjoy the placement assessments and option to see students’ reading progress according to Lexile¬Á† levels” says Gilchrist.

Those reading-level assessments and students’ individual interests inform personalized book recommendations, which are provided to students in their own myON dashboards.

After piloting myON at a few schools in 2011, the program was expanded to all West Ada elementary schools by 2013.

“It is hard to find a digital solution that every school can love” says Gilchrist. “Our staggered rollout helped us stretch training dollars and time in the middle of the recession.”

In those days, myON just offered digital content and assessment. It has since evolved to keep up with the demands of the new state standards, says Gilchrist.

“myON just continues to develop into an even better instructional tool” she says. “They responded to the demands of Common Core, including nonfiction texts and building text-based evidence and engaged reading skills.”

Engagement at every level

To help keep students reading, reading hours are tracked and prizes awarded at the classroom level in West Ada. Prizes have included print books, yogurt parties and “myON Champion” posters.

“My favorite myON memory is when a special education student won a summer reading contest” says Gilchrist. “She was able to read 30 minutes a day all summer long because myON provided access to books that interested her and were matched to her reading level.”

And many parents love that myON now offers many classical literature options in multiple formats, says Gilchrist.

“Many classics are available in both traditional formats and abridged formats” she says. “Struggling readers can still access that important content in a very scaffolded way.”

myON is primarily used for at-home reading and as supplemental texts in the district. Pre-packaged book sets on specific topics help simplify the resource selection process for educators.

“Teachers are increasingly expected to find their own digital content, which puts a lot of pressure on them” says Gilchrist. “Our teachers have realized the power of myON reader to find books that tie into the curriculum because myON’s digital platform can be used to easily search for content by title, subject area, standard and reading level to quickly find and create book sets and assignments from any content area across grade levels.”

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