Greenwich, CT - There were fewer pencils, paper and textbooks being used during the 2015-16 school year at North Street Elementary School, located in the heart of Greenwich, CT. That’s because every teacher and student received an iPad Air as part of the district’s Digital Learning Initiative. “All of the iPads came loaded with apps the district curriculum coordinator selected,” says Jill Flood, the principal at North Street. “It didn’t take our teachers long to discover Big Universe and what an incredible resource it is for every subject in the curriculum.”
One of the things that North Street’s teachers liked right away was the sheer quantity of books available (10,000 and growing) and that as many students as want can read the eBooks simultaneously. According to Principal Flood, “If there are only two books on a particular topic in the library, it limits what teachers can do with a lesson. With Big Universe, teachers can assign a book to students and every one of them can read it on her iPad.”
From ELA to science and social studies, teachers relied on Big Universe to find nonfiction and fiction content to support their lessons. “The unit about the solar system was very popular with our fifth graders,” shares Principal Flood. “Teachers were able to search by subject and even standard to find lots of books about planets and astronauts in Big Universe. Students like the eBooks because they’re more interactive.”
Book Clubs are one way teachers encourage reading at North Street. Students are grouped by Fountas & Pinnell level. Teachers select several books in Big Universe from which each group can choose. All of the students in the group read the same book and then meet to answer questions and discuss what they’ve learned. “Regardless of their reading level, every student can find something to read,” explained Principal Flood. “Big Universe makes it possible for all students to learn together, whatever level they’re reading at.”
The end of the school year didn’t mean an end to learning for North Street students. Students were given the option to take their iPads home for the summer. The district created Big Universe bookshelves with suggested books for every grade level and recommended reading at least 30 minutes a week. Teachers are optimistic that Big Universe will help reduce the summer slide.
“Having access to such an amazing selection of books opens up so many opportunities,” say Principal Flood. “We’re excited to use Big Universe again this school year to engage students and help them gain digital literacy skills.”