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Mobile, AL – Cathy Burdette and the students in her second-grade classroom at Council Traditional Elementary have access to the Big Universe digital library through the Mobile County Public School System’s district license. Ms. Burdette makes the most of that subscription, incorporating Big Universe’s more than 10,000 fiction and nonfiction eBooks into every subject she teaches.

Classroom Case Study

Ms. Burdette often adds eBooks to students’ bookshelves that connect with what they are learning in class. When students were studying soil, rocks and minerals, for example, she assigned text and the class worked on projects related to the reading. When the class was writing biographies, many students researched their subjects on Big Universe.

At the start of Ms. Burdette’s poetry unit, one student decided to search Big Universe for poetry books. As she explored, she stumbled upon something else: a book about seeds, which the class was learning about in science. The student then took the initiative to share the eBook with her classmates. “I didn’t ask them to start looking for the books,” says Burdette. “But they’re so self-motivated that they’re going into Big Universe and finding the text without being prompted.”

This is one of the things Ms. Burdette values most about Big Universe — its power to motivate students to take ownership of their reading and learning. She often sees students creating their own libraries, searching for eBooks and saving them to their bookshelves to read later on. She also finds them sharing their reading experiences with one another and suggesting books to fellow classmates. This engagement is exactly what Ms. Burdette and her fellow Council Traditional teachers want to see. “Students are self-motivated to find the books that they love and to read them. This is something that’s easy to do on Big Universe,” she says.

Student Success Story

One student has found Big Universe especially empowering. Thanks to eBooks, Ms. Burdette says she has “bloomed and blossomed” despite the fact that English is her second language. This student, like all of Ms. Burdette’s second-graders, learned how to use Big Universe from the school’s technology teacher. Needless to say, she caught on quickly. “The next thing I knew, she was coming up to me to show me all of the books she was reading,” Burdette exclaims.

While Big Universe does offer around 1,500 Spanish eBooks, this student chooses to read the leveled English text within the digital library. She searches for Accelerated Reader (AR) eBooks using the powerful search function, reads them and takes associated benchmark quizzes to test her comprehension. Ms. Burdette then accesses the student’s report to monitor her quiz scores and assess her growth. From there she can differentiate instruction and suggest a higher reading level.

Based on her performance on AR quizzes and STAR assessments, the student’s literacy skills are improving. In fact, STAR scores indicate that she’s advanced her reading level by two and a half years since she started reading on Big Universe. “Big Universe has become a tool she’s used to improve her reading,” says Burdette. “I’m seeing evidence of how it is affecting her. She’s moving up and progressing, and she’s doing it at a fast rate.”

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