Birthplace of the “Bakersfield Sound” movement and sandwiched between Fresno and Los Angeles, Bakersfield, California, is home to almost 350,000 people. The area is home to two of the nation’s largest carrot growers and is well known in the agriculture industry.
Greenfield Union School District, composed of 12 different schools and home to more than 9,000 TK–8 students, serves the area. The district has a large Hispanic population and serves students from a multitude of different backgrounds.
The challenge: Ensure students have access to reading materials at home
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced districts around the United States to go remote for the first time in March 2020, Misty Cates, a curriculum specialist at Greenfield USD, knew keeping her students engaged and reading would be important.
Familiar with Renaissance, Cates and her colleagues knew that while their students loved reading books and reaching their Accelerated Reader goals, it would be difficult to provide students with the same level of access to reading materials at home. Supervised trips to local libraries and book drop-offs helped when the school buildings first closed in the district, but there needed to be more. After all, those at Greenfield USD (like most of us) figured students would be back after spring break.
When it became clear that wasn’t going to be the case, Cates connected with Laurel Sarmento, her Renaissance Account Representative, and talked through some of her options. That’s when myON popped up as a digital reading complement to Accelerated Reader. Students could choose from thousands of digital books, almost all with an Accelerated Reader quiz, and read each on their own devices—no matter the learning environment. It was the digital equivalent of each student having personal access to multiple school libraries in their own home! Plus, students could jump from myON to Accelerated Reader and their data would follow them.
“It was the digital equivalent of each student having personal access to multiple school libraries in their own home!”
Curriculum Specialist, Greenfield USD
The district piloted myON, and students gravitated to the vast number of digital books. From graphic novels to page-turning adventures, more than 6,500 different reading options were available at each student’s fingertips. Plus, students could even download up to 20 books for offline reading if wifi wasn’t available.
After piloting myON in the spring and through the summer, Cates and her colleagues knew myON would be the perfect complement to Accelerated Reader in the fall as Greenfield USD planned for the unknown. And with a likely mix of remote and in-person classes coming up, that flexibility would be incredibly important. The district went ahead and purchased myON.
The results: A significant increase in reading
Fall 2020 would be unique. There was no question. And it was clear that classes at Greenfield USD would look a little different.
A long-time Accelerated Reader customer, Greenfield USD made the switch to allow at-home quizzing for Accelerated Reader for the first time—like many other districts across the United States—when students returned. In addition, Greenfield USD went ahead and tested hundreds of students for the fall screening window using Star Assessments, knowing that state testing wouldn’t happen. Simple things like students continuing to take Accelerated Reader quizzes on the latest book in the Dog Man series or students taking their usual fall Star Assessments to help determine where additional support is needed were a nice—if brief—return to normal.
“Simple things like students continuing to take Accelerated Reader quizzes on the latest book in the Dog Man series or students taking their usual fall Star Assessments to help determine where additional support is needed were a nice—if brief—return to normal.”
Curriculum Specialist, Greenfield USD
Determined to keep reading at the forefront, Cates created and led the “Vote 4 Books” initiative in the district, encouraging students to read on myON and tied it to the 2020 election season this past November. Using the data from Star Assessments, students were placed at the appropriate reading levels with recommended “just right” books, helping Cates and her colleagues guide students toward different reading ideas. Students read different election-themed books on myON—ranging from biographies of past presidents to how elections work—competing with each other to read the most.
The results? Students read more than 32,000 books in just a few short weeks!
“I was skeptical of the numbers,” admitted Cates. “I thought there had to be a mistake, so I did some investigating. Yet, I looked through the reports and the number was legit. I was excited!”
In addition to reading more than 32,000 books, students spent more than 323,000 minutes reading on myON. Cates noticed that middle-school students gravitated toward graphic novels, and students enjoyed listening to audio versions of the books as well when reading on myON. Plus, she noticed some healthy competition between some of the sixth-grade classes to see who could read the most.
“I set up a document with directions for our teachers, created a flyer with the dates for the ‘Vote 4 Books’ initiative, and encouraged our teachers to share the information with their students,” said Cates.
And while Cates created the supporting materials, each one of the participating teachers took charge and got their students excited. From encouraging some healthy competition to helping students log into myON for the first time, it was a true district-wide team effort to get myON off the ground—setting the foundation for an even stronger 2021.