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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Upload: Learning, family and today's technology

--- Eastview teacher scores big

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

Eastview Elementary teacher Karie Huttner hit a home run with her idea of using MP3 players to bridge the language and literacy gap for English language learners and their families.

Terry Mayer/The Week
Lizbeth Valladolid, left, and Samantha Orwell listen to stories recorded in both English and Spanish.
Her idea, Cuentories, is so noteworthy that it was awarded the Murdock-Thompson Center for Teachers Summer Fellowship for Innovative Teachers Award and a $2,000 scholarship to take it to the next level.

"This has a lot of potential for students whose parents speak Spanish and students whose parents want them to learn Spanish," Huttner said.

Huttner's program uses MP3 players, slightly larger than credit card-sized digital audio recorders especially popular with kids and teens because they can listen to music through headphones without disturbing those around them.

Here's how it works:

Huttner's second grade students record stories in Spanish and English. Huttner uploads them onto MP3 players that kindergarten students take home and listen to with their parents through headphone splitters.

"MP3s are what kids are using," she said. "It's very important that parents be active in their children's education and this makes that possible with parents who speak only Spanish."

While the program was designed to help kindergarteners develop their reading skills, an unintentional benefit emerged when Huttner realized that Cuentories were also helping the second-graders' reading skills.

"The process also showed me what my students needed in their reading levels.

"They really enjoyed helping the younger students learn. It made them feel important that they were really helping them. Many times they were recording stories for their own younger brothers and sisters, and they really liked that too."

By the end of the year, Huttner had acquired 45 MP3 players and a bank of about 60 stories, some written by students themselves.

Rather than taking the $2,000 scholarship and buying more MP3 players, Huttner has opted to put it into savings and give it some thoughtful time before deciding where to spend it.

"I like to see this program expand to other schools," she said. "This has been one of the most inspirational programs for me as a teacher.

"And it's important knowing that what we're doing will be there for many years."

For more information, visit www.lakegeneva.eastview.groupfusion.net.

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