TRUMAN - Truman Public Schools is one of five small districts in the state participating in a pilot project allowing students to read at their own level on digital devices.
The myON reader program, developed by Capstone Company, is a computerized reading program that assesses students reading level and interests, and suggests titles appropriate for them. A Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Grant made the project possible.
According to Truman Principal Tate Jerome, the program will be in place for three years for preschoolers through eighth-graders, after which the district must decide if it wants to continue funding the program.
myON can be used in the classroom and at home, as it is web-based. Students can download texts onto their computers at home or their smartphones.
Todd Brehkus, president of Capstone Digital, said this digital availability is attractive to students.
"Students are drawn to myON reader because they have a choice on what they want to read in a digital environment where they are comfortable," he said. "According to many kids, myOn reader is fun."
Truman staff members were trained in the program's implementation by SMIF and are currently considering ways to integrate it into their curriculum.
Eric Weedman, the seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Truman, said myON allows him to easily have reading assignments appropriate for each student in his class.
"It selects books at their level that will challenge them," he said.
In addition to the texts of books, the program can read to the students while highlighting the words, and there is a dictionary function that allows students to look up meanings of words while they are reading.
The highlighting function of the program isn't just for emergent readers; it helps with older students who are have difficulty with reading fluency as well.
"If students are struggling, it helps them to see the text," Weedman said.
Weedman plans to use the curriculum in his classroom with seventh-graders, and for eighth-graders mainly assigned texts for home.
Because the program is sponsored by Capstone, a publishing company, the books are all Capstone books.
Weedman is satisfied with the range of texts offered. They includes graphic novels - comic books - of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.