Putting Education Reform To The Test

How An iPod Can Help Turn Kids Into Life Long Readers

chrisdejabet / Flickr

A Miami Dade program is using the iPod Touch to help 600 students learn how to read.

About 600 Miami Dade students are learning to read using an iPod Touch and an app which allows teachers to listen to and track a student’s performance — or receive help from tutors across the country.

The Innovations for Learning initiative started as a pilot last year in a handful of classes. It’s now being implemented in kindergarten and first grade classrooms in low performing schools.

The program combines teaching, tutoring and technology.

The students are using a digital program called TeacherMate to learn how to read with help from volunteers. The program is aligned with Common Core standards for reading in elementary school.

The students are working with iPods purchased by the school district. They can access IFL’s learning app, which is used for small group instruction each day.

“Students are engaged in activities that improve their phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency skills,” says Sonya McSwain, Instructional Supervisor in the district’s Education Transformation Office.

The app enables the teacher to sync the iPods with recordings of students’ reading and provide detailed, customized reports.

The program includes a feature called Tutor Mate.  Volunteers from anywhere in the country can tutor students via a laptop computer in the classroom.

McSwain says the technology aspect of the program fits right in with the state’s current transition to digital learning.

“Because most of our schools are located in our most impoverished neighborhoods in South Florida,” McSwain said, “students get an opportunity to use technological resources that many of them would never have access to at home.”

The program and additional resources are funded through a federal Race to the Top grant.

McSwain says they’d like to expand the program.

“It is our hope that this initiative will strengthen the foundational learning of our students and will be the spring-board for future achievement” McSwain said. “If they are able to read well and think critically, we have provided them with the tools they’ll need for continued success.”


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