Florida adopts open-content reading platform

Wireless Generation has created an advisory board of reading researchers who will help guide the site’s evolution. Board members include Fred Carrigg, director of humanities at Middletown, N.J., Public Schools and former special assistant to the commissioner for literacy at the New Jersey Department of Education; Michael Kamil, professor of learning, design, and technology at Stanford University’s School of Education; Barbara Kapinus, senior policy analyst for the National Education Association; Catherine Snow, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education; and Barbara Taylor, Guy Bond chair in reading at the University of Minnesota and director of the Minnesota Center for Reading Research.

Joanne Meier, a long-time educator and blogger for Reading Rockets—an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in Washington, D.C.—said she believes the site provides “terrific resources” for teaching reading skills, including more than 60 activities to teach phonological awareness and even a “Chipmunk Rap.”

FreeReading.net is planning to add vocabulary and reading comprehension resources later this year.

Florida has adopted FreeReading.net on its short list of K-3 supplemental reading programs that schools may use state instructional money to purchase for the 2008-09 school year. This is the first open instructional program to be approved through an official state adoption, officials said.

Berger said Florida’s decision suggests state officials understand how the current practice of K-12 education being “wedded to the traditional model of educational publishing, in which textbooks are updated and reprinted every five to seven years, and schools pay as much as $150 for a single book,” is outdated.

Florida’s decision to adopt FreeReading.net also reflects a national trend toward using open technologies in education.

Meris Stansbury

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