How schools and districts in California are inspiring their students to read at home | Renaissance

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California (CA)  |  Community & Engagement  |  Early Literacy  |  ELL  |  Literacy  |  Success Stories

How schools and districts in California are inspiring their students to read at home


  • Establishing a culture of reading across schools and districts
  • Keeping students engaged in a distance learning environment


  • myON


  • Engaged students that want to read and grow—no matter the environment
  • A space to share strategies, future plans, and ideas

Despite distance learning becoming the new normal across the nation, several schools and districts in California are seeing their students read now more than ever. 805 Reads!, a Renaissance-led reading initiative, is keeping educators and their students in the 805 area code connected and engaged through myON, a digital reading platform with thousands of digital books and engaging news articles.

Created to connect local schools and districts across California, 805 Reads! encourages California educators to share myON strategies, future plans, and ideas with each other. The initiative stemmed from a discussion Amy Callahan, Strategic Partnerships at Renaissance, had with a few of her schools and districts. She discovered educators were curious to learn more about what others in the state were doing to promote myON in their local schools and districts. Today, 805 Reads! is 11 districts strong and continues to expand—helping put books in the hands of students across communities with partners such as the Boys and Girls Club and local Chambers of Commerce. The quick success even led to a recent webinar to share ideas between educators. Todd Tyner, the principal at Mound Elementary in Ventura Unified School District, and Christine Schiferle, the Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services, are just two of the members of 805 Reads! that have been instrumental in leading discussions around getting books in the hands of students.

While schools and districts are in different stages in their myON implementations, a common goal of access and equity connects everyone. Several of the schools and districts have purchased myON through Title I, Title III, and Title IV funds, while others have used different funds to provide students with the distance learning tools needed.

Fillmore Unified School District and Lompoc Unified School District, two school districts in California and members of 805 Reads!, are leading the charge to get books in the hands of students while students remain home due to the pandemic.

A fast-moving team effort

Micheline Miglis, the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services at Fillmore, credits her fast-moving team of educators and administrators—with a special shout out to Amy Callahan.

“What’s really significant about our myON implementation is that all of it happened after we had closed schools,” said Miglis. “Our teachers jumped right in and in one week, our students read 1,743 books. While that might not sound like a big deal, we’re seeing incredible trajectory from just the week before.”

“Our teachers jumped right in and in one week, our students read 1,743 books.”

Micheline Miglis
Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Fillmore

Prior to the shift to distance learning, Fillmore was planning a myON rollout in the spring. However, the original timeline quickly changed due to the pandemic and the need for digital programs that could be accessed at home. For those at Fillmore, it made complete sense to accelerate the myON implementation and provide access to thousands of digital books and news articles for students and their families.

Miglis points to the vast amount of books available in Spanish as one of the driving factors, along with relevant topics that students want to read about in myON—which is huge when encouraging students to read, especially on their own time. Another benefit to using myON is students can download digital books for offline reading, so if students and their families don’t have internet access, they can find a hotspot at a public location, download books on myON, and read them at home. True equity in action.

Despite the ever-changing plans with the pandemic and quick rollout, Miglis and her colleagues remain committed to expanding myON in the district. Miglis wants to include myON in other classes outside of ELA and expand access to more grades and schools—which she’s shared with others of 805 Reads! While looking at the big picture, Miglis also knows how special the fast-moving team effort was last month and her team continues to meet virtually to discuss the reading data that comes from myON.

“Every single day, we’re meeting and focused on our implementation. Had it not been for Amy Callahan and the Renaissance team, we wouldn’t have kids reading like this.”

805 Reads! Sign

Continuing to encourage students to read and set goals

Noelle Barthel, the Principal at La Honda STEAM Academy in Lompoc, has seen similar interest from students at her school. While La Honda has used myON since last summer, students are continuing to strive toward their reading goals in myON and actively read each week. A big part of that is the reading culture Superintendent Trevor McDonald has encouraged at Lompoc. While the environment might look a little different now, students are sticking to their reading schedules and committing 30-plus minutes to read at home every day.

“myON was the perfect supplement to our distance learning plan and was included in our elementary daily schedule after students finished their virtual lessons. As the instructional setting changed due to COVID-19, we wanted to ensure all our students had access to high-quality literature and opportunities to read independently.”

“myON was the perfect supplement to our distance learning plan and was included in our elementary daily schedule after students finished their virtual lessons.”

Noelle Barthel
Principal, La Honda

A huge bonus of using myON for La Honda is the integration with Accelerated Reader and Star Assessments. Each time a student reads a digital book on myON, they have the option to take an Accelerated Reader quiz right afterward. That seamless connection saves time and also informs each teacher about their students’ progress through connected data in Star Assessments—helping inform instruction and reading strategies.

The newest member of 805 Reads!

And the momentum is gaining. Goleta Union School District, the newest member of 805 Reads!, is all in as well. The district just purchased myON and Freckle after seeing Fillmore, Lompoc, and others experience success. Under the guidance of Dr. Mary Kahn, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, the educators at Goleta are rolling out myON and Freckle this summer and encouraging a growth mindset that will snowball in the fall.

Together, the teachers and administrators at Fillmore, Lompoc, Goleta, and the rest of 805 Reads! are doing great things in a unique time. While a distance learning environment across the nation seemed unfathomable just a few months ago, the educators of 805 Reads! are great examples of true determination and teamwork. In fact, the educators of 805 Reads! are even planning a “Look Who’s Reading” summer story fest series this next month with local celebrities and community leaders to celebrate and cultivate the love of reading this summer—a true team effort.

805 Reads! Stats

Want to make the most of this summer and fall? Explore our at-home resources like implementation guides, learning activities, and information on Renaissance programs (including myON!) for educators, parents, and guardians.

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