eReaders & eBooks in the Classroom

What am I going to do with an eReader in my classroom?!

eReaders and Dyslexia

Are eReaders Helpful for Dyslexia?” an article written by Sara Benard on Mind/Shift poses the question whether eReaders can help students with Dyslexia become successful readers. An article by Annie Murphy Paul, “Can eReaders Ease reading for Dyslexics?” (also on Mind/Shift) offers insight into how eReaders and the accessibility features can help children with Dyslexia improve their reading abilities. Besides the obvious text-to-speech capabilities offered on most tablets and eReaders, there are other accessibility features that can be set that are found to help with reading:

  • “…a team of researchers from the University of Padova in Italy reported that extra-large spacing between letters allowed a group of dyslexic children to read text significantly faster and with fewer than half as many errors as when they read passages with standard spacing.”
  • …”the size of the letters themselves affects how quickly and easily dyslexics read.”
  • “Even the font in which a text is printed may influence how readily a dyslexic is able to read.”

The article provides two research studies where text spacing and font sized were the variables for studying ways to help Dyslexics read more successfully.

I think this is a very timely and interesting article where many people are looking to invest in eReaders because of the accessibility features that would help the diverse student populations with in our schools.

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Is your eReader reading you?

Usually our relationship with a book is intimate, solitary, and unless we share our thoughts about the book with a book club, friend, or no one usually the way in which we read books are pretty much immeasurable after we purchase, borrow, or checkout that book. The following article from the Wall Street Journal, “Your eBook is Reading You” (June 29, 2012) Read the full article using the link to access it.

Amongst all the other data that is collected about our daily lives, you can add your reading habits to that list, if you read on an eReader.

“But the rise of digital books has prompted a profound shift in the way we read, transforming the activity into something measurable and quasi-public.” Previously, publishers and authors really did not know who their customer’s were. Now they have a wealth of knowledge.

“The major new players in e-book publishing—Amazon, Apple and Google—can easily track how far readers are getting in books, how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books.” Will this new knowledge help to make books more appealing or more mass-market appealing.

“…when the data showed that Nook readers routinely quit long works of nonfiction, the company began looking for ways to engage readers in nonfiction and long-form journalism. They decided to launch “Nook Snaps,” short works on topics ranging from weight loss and religion to the Occupy Wall Street movement.” I find this part of the article most interesting because it is delving into the idea of interactive/multi-media style books that many educators are looking into for their students. Also, Doesn’t the “Nook Snaps” sound a lot like chunking — which teachers do for many non-fiction passages for their students anyway.

Weigh in!

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A Kindle World Blog – July’s $3.99 or less

Here is a link to a great blog about Kindles and Kindle books.

The blog, especially this post, highlights the free and cheap books that are available during the month to purchase for the Kindle.

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Purchasing eBooks

Book View Cafe, an author run epublisher, is offering books at a great discount to libraries. It offers an “All You Can Read” program at 45% off retail for libraries. Here is the article from The Digital Shift talking about the new group.

I like how in the article, quotes from some of the authors in Book View Cafe want to get their books out to libraries unlike many publishers who are afraid of eBooks and their ease in illegally downloading. Here’s the question I have to ask, “How many of us buy books and just keep them to ourselves?” Even personal collections, many of us borrow books. Some of us go out and purchase our own copies, but any just borrow. I know that’s not illegal, but it does cost publishers in the long run… Just a thought.

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New app takes non-fiction to a visual level

ReadWriteWeb published this article,, about Citia. Citia is an app that “deconstructs” a non-fiction book into chunks of information (does this sound familiar, educators? Chunking text… ARI…) and visualizes it into smaller bits of information. The book is then in app form through Citia. It is an option, and something interesting to look at the future of non-fiction eBooks (possibly). Check it out. 

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Updating Policies to include eReaders

The librarians in our system had a meeting of the minds in February to update our existing library policies to include eReaders and eBooks (we called it digital content or whatever). Here is a DRAFT (not yet approved or anything! Wish it had, and don’t know status as of yet.) of the policy that our system librarians, bookkeeper, and assistant superintendent drafted at a very long meeting:



Appendix A – Draft Policy

Library Digital Collection Policy

The [Insert School System] Library Policy is being updated to include the development of the library’s digital collection. This digital collection includes but is not restricted to electronic reading (e-readers) devices, tablet computers, electronic books and resources.

The digital library collection will serve all Kindergarten through 12th grade students in all [Insert School System] Schools. The purpose of the development of the Digital Library Collection is to grant a diversified means of delivering information to our students with a variety of modalities, abilities, and learning styles. The digital library collection will enable students to read books in a variety of formats which include accessibility features such as large print, text-to-speech, and contrast capabilities. The content to be included but not limited to in the digital library collection will be e-format library books, textbooks, and other classroom or school documents.

When checked out from the library, the digital items may be checked out for a total of two (2) weeks, as the current library policy states for print items. The digital item may only be renewed one (1) and the digital item must be presented to the library to be renewed. If a digital item is overdue, the assessed fine will be $1.00 per day.

The digital item(s) borrowed must be returned in the same condition it was loaned to the patron. The patron understands he or she is responsible for damage or replacement fees at the original cost. The replacement and damage fees are based on the brand, model, and original cost of the digital item.  If the digital item is a kit that includes other items, the replacement or damage fees will include the additional items included in the kit.

The digital library collection is of optional use to students. At this time, it will not be required of a patron to use the digital collection. The digital collection is an optional and alternative to the traditional print-based delivery of information and materials to patrons.



Appendix B – Patron Digital Devices Usage Agreement

Patron Digital Devices Usage Agreement

[Insert School System Name]

I, as the patron, agree:

  1. The borrowing period for the digital device kit to include the following items device, USB cord/charging adapter is two (2) weeks.
    1. The patron may renew the digital device more one (1) time. (Total of 4 weeks loan) For renewal, the digital device kit must be presented to the librarian to be scanned for renewal.
    2. Upon return of the digital device kit, the librarian will inspect the condition of the digital device and assess many fees based on the payment schedule in the [Insert School System] Digital Library Collection policy.
    3. I will return the digital device kit loaned to me by [Insert School System] in the same condition it was loaned to me. If the e-reader device is lost, stolen, damaged while it is loaned to me, I understand I am responsible for overdue, damage, or replacement fees up to the original value of the device.
      1. The overdue fine on the digital device kit will be $1.00 for every day the item is overdue.
      2. Estimated Replacement Costs

i.     Nook – $100.00 – $300.00

ii.     Kindle – $100.00 – $200.00

iii.     Tablet Device – $100.00 – $500.00

iv.     Case – $25.00 – $50.00

v.     USB Cable/Power Cord – $15.00 – $30.00

vi.     Total Replacement Cost of digital device – $140.00 –  $500.00

  1. Any existing content on the digital device will not be deleted.

i.     If content is deleted, the student will be responsible for any charged involved in repurchasing the content.

  1. I will be the sole user of the e-reader during the loan period. I understand that if I allow another student to borrow, I will be responsible for any damages or fees in the event the e-reader is lost or damaged.
  2. I will not register the digital device with any other account or sync with a computer.
  3. I will not purchase content for the digital device without permission from the librarian.

By signing below, I agree that I have read and understand the above statements and I agree to abide by them.

Print Student Name: ______________________________________________


_________________________________________                                                                        _______________
Student Signature                                                                                                                                                Date

_________________________________________                                                                        ________________
Parent/Guardian Signature                                                                                                                              Date



Appendix C – Emerging Technologies/Electronic Devices Policy*


*This is included because the emerging technologies policy had already been adopted at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. I would definitely suggest the mobile technology policies be updated especially when you are wanting to deliver eBooks to eReaders your students own already.



The Pike County Schools System recognizes that the use of technology always requires attempts to balance the benefits against the possibilities of danger, security problems, and abuse. Rapid changes in technology and growth in the range of content available makes this a constant challenge. Thus, it is the intention of the Pike County School System that all technology resources be used in accordance with any and all school system policies and procedures as well as local, state and federal laws and/or guidelines governing the usage of technology and its component parts.


Personal technology-related devices that enhance classroom instruction such as, but not limited to laptops, iTouch/iPods/iPads, e-readers, cameras or other eDevices, etc. can be used on school grounds with the permission of the local school administration and the classroom teacher. Students should also have a signed permission form from their parent authorizing them to bring the technology to school. The student should take the technology to the designated teacher before school begins. These items are subject to all policies and procedures covered in the Pike County Schools Acceptable Usage Policy, Code of Conduct, Policy Manual, and other applicable published guidelines.


See Cell Phone Use Policy 8.63 for use of cell phones at school.


No technologies may be purchased, brought to campus, or used to access school system resources that interfere with or adversely affect functions or operations of school system technology resources/infrastructure. The user should not access local area network or wide area network resources that require authentication without the explicit permission of the technology staff. Public internet access is available for visiting devices and is subject to the conditions outlined in Pike County School’s technology policies and all other school system policies and guidelines, as well as local, state, and federal laws.


All personal electronic devices will adhere to the same technology protection measures (or “internet filters”) as school/school system devices to deny access to inappropriate information.


Any device that provides personal wireless internet services on school campuses is strictly prohibited.


To maintain network integrity and to insure that the network is being used responsibility, if any policy violation or inappropriate behavior is suspected, the Pike County Schools technology staff reserve the right to inspect any and all data, including data stored by individual users on individual school or personal devices. Users should be aware that activities may be monitored anytime without notice.


Any student or employee found in violation of this policy may be subject to suspension or other disciplinary action by the school administration and/or the Pike County Board of Education.


The school/school system is not responsible for the loss, damage, or theft of any electronic device brought to school or to a school event. The security of these devices is the sole responsibility of the student.







Appendix D – Textbooks Payment Schedule

Textbooks Payment Schedule

All the textbooks furnished free of charge to students shall remain the property of the State of Alabama and the Board. A receipt shall be signed by each student upon issuance of any textbooks by school officials. The parent, guardian, or other person having custody of the student to whom the textbooks are issued shall be held liable for any loss, abuse, or damage to state-owned textbooks.

Failure to pay the School System for a lost or damaged book will result in non-issuance of other textbooks. The amount of payment for loss or managed textbooks to the School System shall be determined by the following schedule:

1st Year Original Cost
2nd Year 75% of original cost
3rd year 50% of original cost
4th year 25% of original cost
5th year 25% of original cost

Reimbursement will be made to students who relocate textbooks after payment is made to the School System and upon presentation of payment receipt based on the four-year schedule shown above.

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Audio + eBooks = Help for struggling readers

I stumbled upon Librivox while searching for Social Studies resources, but it’s a wonderful tool — especially if you have an eReader that does not have a text-to-speech capability. The books are in audio format and are free because all the books are consider part of the public domain.

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Books for Reluctant Readers – A series of four books (more to come) that follow a group of four kids as they delve into literature — literally. As they “travel” through four classic children’s books. The text links to the original children’s book text.

In an article from Mind/Shift, Audrey Watters (follow her on Twitter @audreywatters) argues for what many of us already use in the classroom — graphic novels. There are graphic novels available in eBook form.

Another article by Audrey Watters shows more animated eBooks.

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How can eReaders help my students?

Here is a few thoughts as to why eReaders, eBooks, or digital texts/content can help your students:


  • Text-to-speech capabilities
  • Large print
  • contrasting on eInk & backlit devices
Will eReaders excite students to read or read more? Probably not, but it might encourage those who do not like to read. It might excite those who are on the edge of liking and not liking to read. You never know.
Another perspective, from the library, some students read off-grade level and are embarrassed to get the correct leveled books because other students may make fun of them. On a digital device or computer, no classmate would know what he or she was reading just by the cover. It could help give that push of confidence. Who knows, but it’s worth a try, right?

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iBooks Author App

Are you ready to take the plunge into authoring your own books? Take a look at the recently released (and free) iBooks Author app.

Here’s the great features of Books Author:

  • Multi-Touch widgets to include interactive photo galleries, movies, Keynote presentations, 3D objects, and more
  • Apple-designed templates that feature a wide variety of page layouts for a quick start
  • Add accessibility descriptions to any widget so that it can be used by sight-impaired readers easily with VoiceOver
  • Export to iTunes U or iBooks or save as a PDF
Books can be downloaded via iTunes U or iBooks and read on an iPad, but with the capability of exporting it as a PDF, then you will be able to read it on a computer, mobile device, or an eReader device able to read PDFs.
Here is a FREE 110-page tutorial e-book on the iBooks Author App.

Here’s what it looks like: (screenshots from

Template Browser

Just like Keynote, iBooks Author comes packed with a variety of different book templates that authors can use as a starting place to design their books.

Cover View

The cover can be customized to showcase the book.

Layout Options

Each template comes with a number of different layout options, both in portrait and landscape, that the user can customize.

Intro Video

Books created in iBooks Author can include an introductory video for a more rich multimedia experience.


The user can build a glossary into the book.

Table of Contents

The table of contents can be customized and labeled. It automatically updates based on what options and elements are chosen in the program.

Chapter Layouts

The “Chapter” section has different layout options for a chapter title page or for a “preface” page.

Section Layouts

Section layouts can include text accompanied with graphics, forward or copyright information or standard layout text.

Page Layouts

There are multiple page layouts to choose from, including one, two and three column pages. Users can also insert blank pages.

Import Chapter Content

Users can import text directly for a chapter from a Pages or Word file.

The formatting within that file is preserved when possible and text size and line height can be adjusted as usual.

Widget Types

Numerous interactive widgets can go inside pages. These include interactive images, 3D objects, video or other types of media, photo slideshows and Keynote presentations. Users can also insert quiz questions or custom HTML widgets.

Landscape View

A chapter layout page as it will appear in landscape.

Portrait View

That same chapter page in portrait mode.

Interactive Image Controls

Interactive images include animation control points. If you have used Keynote, the controls will be familiar.

Keynote Widget

Speaking fo Keynote, full Keynote presentations, including animations, can be inserted into an iBook.

iPad Preview

Users can preview their books on the iPad before publishing. Simply connect an iPad to your Mac, open iBooks and then click the “Preview” icon. A proof will be sent to the device.

iBooks 2 Proof View

Proof copies have a special designation in the Library of iBooks 2.

iBooks 2 Cover View Landscape

The cover of our book in landscape.

iBooks 2 Cover View Portrait

The cover in portrait

iBooks 2 Table of Contents

The table of contents.

iBooks 2 Chapter Landscape

The landscape chapter view.

iBooks 2 Portrait

The portrait chapter view.

iBooks 2 Widgets

Widgets within the app.

iBooks 2 Keynote Widget

The Keynote widget.

iBooks 2 Keynote Fullscreen

When in full screen, the user can control the presentation and its action as if it were a regular presentation.

iBooks 2 Notes

iBooks 2 includes an area for users to keep their own notes and highlights in a book.

I see where is a great use for this app within my own classroom as a teacher. The possibilities I find intriguing are getting away from many of the state- or district-adopted textbooks that many of us do not use except for reference every-now-and-then and creating study guides or chapters of text that are interactive for students. In a way, this helps to “flip” the classrooms and make them zones of discussion and project-based learning rather than spending our time drilling the information.
In turn, is this something a student could use to create a meaningful project? Yes! Think of the multi-genre or multimedia research or PBL projects that can be created using this tool.
Like any technology or tool, there is a learning curve. Download the app on your OS X device and start playing around with. The positive, we have the summer to create some awesome, interactive texts our students will benefit from.
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