Picture yourself entering a dark cave covered in stalagmites and stalactites, then passing through a hallway lined with trees and engaging interactive displays. When arriving at the lunchroom, you see a 250-gallon aquarium. Students at Munford Elementary School experience this daily as their school has been transformed through a partnership with the US Forest Service—all designed to immerse kids in learning about their natural surroundings in Alabama’s Talladega National Forest.
The principal introduced myON into this unique school environment to tap into student fascination with digital texts while expanding access to books under a new 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative. “We knew students would love the ability to interact with texts on myON,” explained Katy Turner, Munford’s Technology Integration Specialist. “We dedicate time to providing opportunities for close reading and finding evidence in text, so I knew the annotation feature in myON would engage our students.”
However, they didn’t anticipate the overwhelming response from their K-5 students. “We’ve seen a phenomenal amount of books read and time spent reading, which is a key focus in our school,” Turner said. “We really believe in the volume of reading and the impact it has on children as readers, so we were looking for myON to help us drive engagement.”
"We dedicate time to providing opportunities for close reading and finding evidence in text, so I knew the annotation feature in myON would engage our students."
As a Leader in Me Lighthouse School, Munford relies on lead teachers to deliver turnkey professional development in each grade. The protected time teachers have during their classes each day, when children are encouraged to read books that match their interests and reading levels, is a Munford best practice.
The summer reading challenge helps keep student engagement high during the long break and options for online and offline reading are plentiful. The building remains open for summer camps and reading programs, as well as independent reading by children and families. All students, particularly those without Wi-Fi access at home, can use the myON app to download books for offline reading.
Next school year, Munford will deepen its myON implementation as more educators incorporate projects. “There’s a big challenge as a classroom teacher in providing instruction in a small group setting, yet still holding your students who are off working on their own accountable,” Turner said. “We see great potential with the projects on myON for that. And it’s something we’re excited about venturing into more next year.”
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ASCD SmartBrief | September 28, 2016
By Angela Robinson and Katy Turner
Upon entering Munford Elementary School, you find yourself in a cave surrounded by stalagmites and stalactites. Continuing down the hallway, you follow a curvy stone path lined with realistic trees. The lunchroom is adorned with hand-painted murals of the Talladega National Forest and houses a 250-gallon aquarium filled with fish native to Alabama. Scattered throughout the building are museum-quality, interactive displays showcasing academic content related to the environment. Outside you’ll find an outdoor classroom, a three-acre nature trail and an outdoor amphitheater.
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