Rural New Zealand teacher Andrea Williams transforms reluctant readers and writers with Booktrack Classroom for Google Chrome
Andrea Williams’ school is tucked into a lush green countryside in the northern part of New Zealand. Waiau Pa School is 125 years old, but with a school-wide 1:1 Chromebook program, they are at the forefront of utilizing technology in the classroom. Andrea uses a variety of apps and technology solutions to personalize the learning experience for each of her 25 6th and 7th grade students.
With four students with dyslexia and a group of boys who hate reading, Andrea was always on the hunt for something that would get her students excited about reading and writing. According to New Zealand’s national test results, boys consistently score lower on Language Skills tests than their female counterparts. With this in mind, Andrea tried a variety of literacy tools to engage her reluctant male readers, but results were spotty at best.
Andrea also found that these same students hated sharing their work. They refused to let others read their writing, which was counterproductive to the collaborative writing process Andrea was trying to employ.
“[Getting students to share their writing] has been a battle in my class, especially with the boys who are not confident writers,” Andrea said.
Andrea was attending a professional development session at MindLab when she learned about Booktrack Classroom. After learning about the academic support for the tool and reading student reactions to Booktrack, she decided to incorporate it into her classroom.
Andrea first introduced Booktrack Classroom to her students via a poetry assignment where she asked students to add sounds to a poem they read. Andrea uploaded the poetry text to Booktrack Classroom, and shared it with each of her students. Andrea then demonstrated how to add sound in the studio environment, and students then created their own Booktracked versions of the poem. Once they were complete, students shared their creations with their “reading buddy” partners in another class. Students who were once reluctant to show their work were now excited to share their Booktracks with their peers.
Andrea found that her students were excited to write if they could use Booktrack to create and share their work. After this initial assignment, Andrea has continued to offer her students the option to Booktrack any writing project they choose.
Booktrack Classroom’s Chrome App is now a vital part of Andrea Williams’ classroom. Her grade-level colleagues are also using the platform, and they plan to share the tool with the other teachers at Waiau Pu School.
“It has been a great way for students to self manage their publishing of their writing and to share their work in a unique and engaging way. It is easy to use and something that will be used on a regular basis in my room.”
Students in Andrea’s classroom now approach writing with new a new mindset. Writing stories and essays are now a source of excitement, rather than a dry task. Andrea also anticipates she will observe an increase in comprehension as she continues to utilize Booktrack texts for student reading assignments.