Reading & Literacy Opinion

Computer-Assisted Classes—Elementary

By Jonathan W. Gerlach — September 29, 2006 1 min read
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4th grade teacher
Lopez Elementary School
Seffner, Florida

“As we learn, we grow.” Someone wise once told me that, and it’s the best way to describe our Ebooking project at Lopez Elementary. It’s made possible through Realewriter (www.realebooks.com), a program that allows students to create, edit, and publish books in print and online.

We started this project just over a year ago, with a team of three teachers. We now have 15, and we’re beginning to see results. The idea developed after my co-coordinator read research stating that, for a child to be successful in school, he or she needs to have access to at least 52 books before entering kindergarten. For various reasons, lots of kids arrive in school not nearly this prepared and get frustrated as they struggle to read. So, using Realewriter, our older students started writing books for the younger ones. Eventually, we began delivering books to Head Start programs, clinics, homeless shelters, and other places where underprivileged children have little to no access to free books.

It took a while. We began with only two computers and no printer. But after drawing interest and accumulating resources, we finished the 2005-06 school year by publishing more than 150 books. I never imagined this was possible! We’ve also incorporated the writing and publishing of Realebooks in our intermediate students’ science and social studies classes. And we’ve had great success with primary students writing class books in response to literature they’ve read. I’m currently transferring all of these books to our new Web site, lopez.realelibrary.com.

Eventually, this project will become bigger than we are. We’re finally getting the support we need, and many people want to be part of the project. It’s a long road, but we’re moving with a purpose. If you want to learn more about Realewriter, feel free to e-mail me at Jonathan.Gerlach@sdhc.k12.fl.us. Or you can visit the new site mentioned above or the old site, www.myrealebooks.com/site/lopez/.

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A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2006 edition of Teacher Magazine as Computer-Assisted Classes


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