Spencer Technology Academy, Illinois

When Robin Hood was referenced in class reading material, students in Steve McWade’s class didn’t know who he was. The students, 5th graders at Spencer Technology Academy in Chicago, used myON as an on-the-spot resource to learn about the beloved outlaw.

“When you read you pull from your experiences, but my students couldn’t do this,” explained McWade. “They’re deprived of the world around them because they are young, and because of the community they live in. myON gives them access to the world outside.”

With upwards of 99 percent of the school categorized as low income, many students face socio-economic issues including unstable living conditions, and many according to McWade are “reluctant readers.” For students, using myON is fast, effective and fun. They enjoy choosing their own books, which are at the right level for them.

"I like that the students see increasing Lexile® scores, which empower and motivate them."

Steve McWade, 5th Grade Teacher

McWade was matched with myON through Leap Innovations, a program that works to identify technology products and pilots them in schools. His students don’t have a library at the school. So, when they were provided access to myON’s thousands of books via their tablets, a whole new world for students to engage with was literally opened up to them.

“myON has made them curious, and the material is easy to find and tantalizing to the eye,” said McWade, who uses myON for whole group and small group instruction. He has integrated it into everyday learning and has even created the curriculum around it.

“I went from having two books on mythology to 60 with myON,” said McWade. “I had a week dedicated to mythology and a separate one we called ‘Shark Week’ built completely around books from myON’s library.”

As if listening to the students talk animatedly about reading isn’t enough, the big story for McWade has been in the numbers. “With a quick glimpse I can track performance including books read and finished,” he said.

“I like that the students see increasing Lexile® scores, which empower and motivate them,” he continued. “Students have even taken to shouting out their scores in class, followed by cheers from other students.” 

McWade can also see they are reading at home. 

“I love that we can download books here for them to read at home, even if they don’t have Wi-Fi there,” he added. “Having a virtual library at school is great; being able to access it at home, well that hooked me.”