“It gets harder the further you go into grade-level structures, because students get frustrated and … see themselves as not being a reader, not enjoying reading. By the time they get to high school, it’s a huge challenge to turn that around, both from an academic and motivational standpoint,” Pratt-Dannals said.

However, a large portion of this student community didn’t have the home internet access it needed to continue the learning process once students left the classroom.

“We have a large population of students whose struggling is based upon reading, who also are disenfranchised when it comes to internet access at home, so we were looking for a way that we could extend learning into the home and looking for solutions to break that digital divide,” Bowen said. “We want to revitalize the love of reading in the community and to get everyone engaged.”

District leaders’ research led to TVtextbook, a product that connects to televisions and lets students access software that corresponds to the curriculum.

For more information on school reading initiatives, see:

Tackling Reading Comprehension Head-On

Each child receives a backpack containing the TVtextbook set-top device, a wireless mouse, and a 3G stick, and all of those materials let students access the district’s reading software from home. Bowen noted that the device looks similar to the Wii gaming system.

There also are plans to create development tools for parents, available on the devices, so that parents can become a part of the learning process.