In the classroom of Allen County-Scottsville English and reading educator Heather Pierce, freshmen and sophomore students are benefiting each day from Chromebooks and books purchased through a grant received last year from the Laura Turner Dugas Fund for Allen County.
“The grant was written for Chromebooks and a classroom library for my reading classes,” Pierce explained “The books motivate students to read and were purchased from a recommended list released by Kelly Gallagher, a teacher, author, speaker, coach who is dedicated to helping students become better readers and writers.”
Pierce points out that her students “love’ the books in the classroom library purchased through the funding. The books also have a tie-in with the Chromebooks.
“I wanted students to understand how much reading and writing work together,” Pierce explained. “I wanted the students to learn how to write in everyday life. We talked about business letters and email and how letters could be used every day. So, I asked the students to write a letter to a company or business and talk about what they liked or did not like. It could be a letter of compliment or a letter of complaint, but tone was of utmost importance.”
Her students used their Chromebooks to research information and compose their letters. Pierce helped each student tweet the letter before mailing and soon found that letters would be going to a wide variety of people near and far.
“Some people choose to write to makeup companies, some choose to write to clothing companies, and some choose to write to politicians or athletes,” Pierce noted. “Some of my students even wrote to musical artists in Europe.”
The tie-in between reading and writing was evident by student Jacob Crabtree. After reading two non-fiction books about the University of Kentucky purchased through the grant, Crabtree penned a letter to Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari.
“He researched more about Kentucky online and all of that ended up in his letter,” Pierce pointed out. “I have never had a child put so much into a business letter. He wasn’t motivated that much when we were talking about friendly letters but when we started talking about the business letter, he really put a lot of effort into it.”
Crabtree would receive a letter and signed photo back from Coach Calipari. Crabtree treasured the gifts but noted that the exercise also helped him more about writing.
“It taught me how to get better at writing and it showed me the difference between a friendly letter and a business letter,” Crabtree said. “This can help me in the future in getting a job. It also felt really good to get a response.”
Student Logan Moore composed a letter to Apple, complementing the company on their phones. Like Crabtree, Moore noted that the project was eye-opening and educational.
“I was surprised that they responded, thanking me for my opinion,” Moore said. “Learning how to write a letter to a company may help me down the road. I think it will.”
Pierce believes that the lesson will benefit her students for years to come.
“I think for a lot of the kids, it really paid off,” Pierce noted. “It was also a good way to help the students learn to use computers.”
Pierce added that the Chromebooks are being used daily in a multitude of ways. Students are learning to visit reading, writing, and vocabulary sites and discovering how to use these sites to their advantage.