He just didn't like to read.
Michael Atwood, a seventh-grader at Highland Hills Middle School, had no interest in picking up a book and finishing it from one cover to the other.
Then, something changed after the beginning of this school year.
"If I go [to the library], it's hard to find a book and they don't have a lot of books I like," Atwood said. "But with a Kindle, you can read really fast because you can personalize it to you. It makes me feel like I'm pushing right though the pages."
A Read 180 class in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. is giving the rest of the district a preview of what could happen when technology is introduced to every student in the classroom. Carla Thomas, who teaches the class, purchased seven Amazon Kindles with money she was awarded last year.
Thomas' class helps students who are reading below their grade level catch up with their peers. Even though she's only had half a school year with e-readers in the hands of her students, she said the results have been huge.
"For me as a reader, what I'm seeing is that I'm having conversations with kids about books," Thomas said. "Before, it was staged, I was rehearsing what I was going to say to them. Now, they're coming up to me, showing me things they're reading and talking to me about it."
In her class, she uses a Lexile scale -- a standardized measure of reading ability -- to gauge where a student stands with their peers. Typically, she said teachers in Read 180 shoot for gains of 50-100 Lexile points in a year.
Since she started with the Kindles in August, she said her students have already increased at an average of 200 to 250 Lexile points, some seeing as much as a 500 point gain.
does it make?
Thomas said she had a student in her class one year who was a reluctant reader. One day, she looked up to see him with a Sony Playstation Portable in his hands during class.
As she made her way toward him, she noticed he wasn't playing a game. Instead, he was reading a book.
She said the wheels began turning for her, then she was awarded WHAS 11's ExCEL Award in May 2012. She got $1,000 along with the award and purchased the Kindles with a few books on each of them to use in her classroom.
But after trying to find resources online, she said most of the teachers who had introduced e-readers to their students just wrote about how to use them rather than incorporate the devices into the classroom.
"I didn't want it to be something where we had the same group of seven kids and read the same pages," Thomas said. "I wanted them to be independent and really get lost in the book."
While she thought students might enjoy the e-readers, she said she didn't realize it would make such a big difference for the ones who were frightened by reading.
With a Kindle at home, Thomas said she noticed students doing some things with them she didn't expect. They were turning them sideways and increasing the font size.
After talking to some of the kids, she found it wasn't because they couldn't see the letters, it was because fewer words on the page made reading less intimidating.
One of her students, whom she did not name, didn't read a single book last year. By October with the Kindle, she said he'd finished three.
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