Hoosier Uplands Afterschool Program, Indiana

The Hoosier Uplands Economic Development Corporation operates 21st Century Community Learning Centers sites in six elementary schools, which together serve approximately 270 students in K-6. Their program focus is literacy – and myON is a key component, according to Program Director Whitley Clements.     

Student Lexile® reading levels have grown an average of 51L during the current school year alone, as a result of effective in-program activity and a strong program-to-home independent reading component.  

During the afterschool program students have a set schedule each day, which includes homework time followed by a 15-minute independent reading or literacy block. “The kids jump onto myON during homework or literacy time,” Mrs. Clements explained. 

Students are encouraged to continue reading outside of school and program time. The digital nature of myON makes it possible in this rural community, where access to public libraries is difficult and sometimes cost-prohibitive. 

They download free mobile apps onto their tablets to enable them to read when they don’t have access to WIFI. “Parents really enjoy it, too!” Mrs. Clements said. “Kids are even reading in the car. It keeps them occupied and it’s not just a video game.”

“We use projects and other tools during the school year.  In the summer, it’s all about independent reading and is more laid back."   

To get the momentum going with families at the beginning of the school year, the program team prints out a myON reading campaign starter packet. It includes themed student logins and other information to help them support their children’s at-home reading. Parents and guardians can come into the sites and use the Wi-Fi to download the information packets and the mobile apps if needed. 

During the summer, the formal program structure shifts to a more relaxed approach. “We use projects and other tools during the school year,” Mrs. Clements said. “In the summer, it’s all about independent reading and is more laid back. We want students to explore myON by themselves.” 

As they prepare to transition from the school year to summer break, the staff holds a big family night event, where they distribute a summer take-home packet and remind families how important it is to keep their children’s minds “in the reading gear.”  

Students are told that if they meet achievable summer reading goals, they can claim certificates and prizes at the beginning of the new school year. For those in K-2, that means they are expected to read three books or spend at least one hour reading over the summer break. 

Site coordinators own the data portion of the program year-round, tracking student reading activity and determining who gets certificates and prizes. Mrs. Clements keeps an eye on the data to be sure everyone is using the resource. She has set a program-wide summer reading goal this year – for at least 25 percent of students to read independently during the break. 

“The entire aspect of myON is wonderful and perfect for the summer months,” Mrs. Clements added. “Kids can get in there and find books they love. It’s not like pulling teeth to get them to read a book. It’s right there. It’s digital and they’re all about that!”