Chango uses grant for reading technology

(From left) Lisa Harvey and Catherine Benson stand with a group of Chango students while holding up their favorite book.(From left) Lisa Harvey and Catherine Benson stand with a group of Chango students while holding up their favorite book.
(From left) Lisa Harvey and Catherine Benson stand with a group of Chango students while holding up their favorite book.

(From left) Lisa Harvey and Catherine Benson stand with a group of Chango students while holding up their favorite book.

BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
CLIFTON PARK— The Chango Elementary School Literacy Team has decided to spend a $4,000 grant from GlobalFoundries on 10 iPads — plus grip-enhanced covers to keep them safe.

The primary access to these devices will go to kindergarteners and first- and second-graders. These tablets will also provide a great deal of help to English Language Learners, students who have a language other than English spoken in the home.

“We purchased iPads because there is a lot of technology that will bridge the gap for those students, especially the younger ones — it will speed up their learning,” academic intervention support teacher Lisa Harvey said. “None of us want them to lose the love of turning the pages of a book, but the reality is that reading is good in any form.”

For example, Raz-kids (Reading A-Z) is an app that lets kids access books at their own level and it addresses their comprehension as well. It’s made for teachers to use with their students and the program will advance them as needed. Kindergarteners are using a program called LetterSchool, which is a multisensory game that enables kids to practice letters and sounds by moving tiles; they hear it as they see it to immerse them in the English language. It unravels the process of handwriting by making it fun.

The iPads are in the process of being purchased, but soon they will be making an impact at Chango. “They are successful already; different classroom teachers have been awarded iPads through the award process,” library media specialist Catherine Benson said. “So we see it as advancing what we already have.” The children are familiar with today’s latest technology. “They know how to use them,” Harvey said. “We want to thank GlobalFoundries for all that they have done to make this happen.”

The iPads will supplement the work the Chango literacy team has already started.

Within Chango’s library is a separate Book Room for intermediate elementary school students in third through fifth grades. Each book comes in a variety of reading levels.

“One class will read the Helen Keller biography in three groups, all reading the same material, but some will have more challenging complexity and vocabulary,” Harvey said. “They can learn the same skills as their peers but at reading types that are appropriate to them.”

Since the state’s Common Core requirements have been altered, the dark brown shelves house many nonfiction books including “George Eastman and the Kodak Camera,” “Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World” and “Who Was Marco Polo?” However, treasured fiction such as Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and Jacqueline Davies’ “The Lemonade War” is still present to provoke the color and wonder of a child’s imagination.

The children seem to love the biographies the most. “They can relate to them,” Harvey said. “They can imagine what they can do in their future when they read about people who weren’t expected to do some the things that they did.”
“They are able to see the humble beginnings and then moving to greatness,” Benson added.

“Chango is a Title 1 school, which means that we have a certain percentage of students that have free and reduced lunch, and typically Title 1 schools have lower tests scores, but we are doing something right because we have the high test scores,” Harvey said. “We want to keep adding to that so we can continue that trend.”