Todd Brekhus, the president of myON, recently sat down with Huzefa Kapadia on the Scalar Learning podcast to discuss reading curricula and how to transform a child’s ability to read into a mindset of a love of reading.
“You guys are taking on really big tasks that almost seem impossible,” Kapadia said, “but it’s ideal if you can do it, and I guess you found a way to do it. That’s really cool.”
Kapadia’s comment about myON captured the mission of engaging children to cultivate their life-long love for literature. Brekhus and Kapadia used this episode to dive into the inner workings of the digital literacy environment, from the early conception of the program to its latest innovations and the theories behind using it in a classroom.
After sharing an introduction to myON, Brekhus and Kapadia discussed how myON offers students the flexibility to choose their own reading resources while still fitting in a teacher-led classroom model.
Brekhus shared that, essentially, research shows that when students have the ability to choose their own literature, they are more likely to enjoy reading and continue to read. myON also allows teachers to compose dynamic lesson plans, but with access to more book options than in a traditional library.
For example, as Brekhus explained, in a unit on push-and-pull magnetism, a traditional lesson would require students to read a few pages from a text book, and perhaps follow up with a paper clip and magnet activity. myON has more than 40 books on magnetism—from biographies, to books on Tesla cars, to inventors, to Wile E. Coyote explaining science. Allowing students to choose which title they use to learn about push-and-pull and magnetism is extremely powerful, and allows personalization of teaching and learning.
At one point in the interview, Kapadia asked Brekhus if there is any controversy around providing audio options with every myON title. Is listening to books the same as reading? Brekhus explained that myON’s audio moves at about half the pace of a silent reader. The audio component is a key feature of myON because the audio is naturally recorded by actors out of New York, versus text-to-speech. And the advantage of this is to engage the more than 60% of students in the U.S. who are not reading on grade level. Hearing a book gives students an oral understanding of pausing, rhythm, patterns, and other foundational aspects of language, but as students become better readers through listening, they are motivated to turn the audio off to comprehend at a faster, more productive level.
Brekhus and Kapadia also discussed thoughts on other digital reading products, how myON can help students prepare for standardized testing, and why myON released its newest product, myON News.
You can hear their entire conversation here.