Teacher Hopes to Make Lifelong Learners Through Reading Technology

By WEEK Producer

December 28, 2011 Updated Dec 28, 2011 at 10:25 PM CDT

MORTON, Ill -- You may have gotten some fancy electronics this holiday. One Morton Teacher will too thanks to HOI 19 and Cefcu's One Class at a Time Grant.

Nadine Worstell teaches special education to Jefferson Elementary School's primary students.

She says one of their biggest challenges isn't writer's block, "Reading is such a struggle for them, and if you can find that one little thing that's going to spark their interest, that can just make them a lifelong learner, and that's what we're hoping for," says Worstell.

That's where technology steps in. Mrs. Worstell sometimes teaches with an iPod touch.

"It keeps them interested because it's interactive. They just love it, so it's just another avenue you can use to get kids to learn," says Worstell.

But she says this gadget is a little too small. So she'll use the $1,000 grant to buy Barnes and Noble color Nooks with down-loadable lessons.

"If we're not addressing their needs with the technologies they're used to, they won't be learning as much or as quickly as they can," says Lauri Vandervoorn.

Vandervoorn teaches the teachers how to use the evolving technology.

She says the Morton School District is integrating the latest electronics in every classroom, as early as kindergarten. "They come in learning more and more every year. In fact, kindergartners come in now, look at the mouse, and say, 'what is this?' And they proceed to touch their computer monitors and try to move things around and say, 'hey it's not working!'" says Vandervoorn.

That may not be the case for long, at least in Mrs. Worstell's class.