REDMOND, Wash., May 9, 1997 — Today students in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua and China are leaping into literature. And they are using computers and the Internet to do it! In fact, more than 140,000 students around the world will read a good book today and then use classroom computers to chat about the stories with other kids and their favorite authors during The Read In! sponsored by Microsoft Corporation, the Global Schoolhouse and others.
The Read In! is an annual daylong reading event for K-12 students designed to integrate language arts and telecommunications into an educational experience that promotes reading. Started by California-educator Jane Coffey, The Read In! began three years ago when third-grade students from Dutcher Elementary School in Turlock, Calif., where Coffey is the computer technician, used technology to talk about books with third graders from a school in Chickasha, Okla. The event has grown to include students from hundreds of schools in all 50 states and nine other countries. For Coffey, project director of The Read In!, this year’s event begins at 4 a.m. and continues non-stop until 8 p.m.
What sets The Read In! apart from other read-a-thons is the use of technology to give students around the world the opportunity to chat online with 18 noted children’s authors, illustrators and children’s book characters, including Avi, Connie Porter, Clifford the Big Red Dog, David Wisniewski and R.L. Stine.
Microsoft is sponsoring the web site for The Read In! through it’s newly founded Technology Resource Institute in Seattle and is providing free Microsoft®
Internet Explorer 3.0 to some schools without Web browsers. From a Gateway 2000 server using Microsoft BackOffice
products, students will talk with the literary celebrities in a moderated chat room. Microsoft’s NetShow
will be used by members of the West Seattle High School Computer Club to provide multimedia broadcasts of some author chat sessions. Students will not only be able to read the authors’ comments, they will be able to see them and hear them talk.
“This year, we have the added bonus of working with Microsoft and the Technology Resource Institute helping us connect thousands more participants than we ever imagined possible,”
said Coffey, project director of The Read In!
“This technology is making my dream of children and teachers around the world spending a day celebrating reading a reality.”
In addition, Microsoft is sponsoring The Read In!’s
“Leap into Literature”
contest by rewarding schools that help create The Read-In! archives by submitting photographs and videos of The Read-In! activities at their schools and reviews of the books that students have enjoyed reading. These will be posted on The Read In! Web site. Award-winning schools will receive U.S. Savings Bonds.
“To effectively use technology, students must have strong reading skills,”
said Kathryn Yates, director of Microsoft K-12 programs.
“The Read In! encourages kids to enjoy reading and build those skills. The event uses the Internet to break down traditional classroom walls by allowing all students and teachers to use technology to share their love for books and reading with others around the world.”
For students at the French Immersion School in London, Ontario, Canada, The Read In! is a celebration day –
“a reading feast,”
said teacher Louisa Howerow. Last year, and again this year Howerow’s fifth and sixth graders are spending the entire day reading in French and English, with the rest of the school’s 400-plus students joining in for at least a half hour.
“Today we celebrate the notion that reading opens the whole world to students,”
“And with the use of Internet chats, the world literally is open to our students as they participate in online discussions with children and authors in other parts of the world.”
In addition to breaking down geographic barriers, technology allows students to participate in The Read In! regardless of age, color or disabilities, said Yetti Sinnreich, a middle school teacher at the Kendall Demonstration School in Washington, D.C. Preschoolers through eighth graders at Kendall, a school for deaf students, will participate in The Read In! for the third year by reading to themselves, telling stories in American Sign Language and sharing their ideas with others online.
“Technology enables our students to talk to famous authors and children without communication barriers,”
“The Read In! is all-inclusive and allows for extraordinary participation with no need for interpretation.”
At scheduled times throughout the day students from preregistered schools will meet in designated chat areas on the Internet at The Read In! Web site: (http://www.readin.tripl.org) . Students can discuss books they’ve read, trade book lists and share their schools’ special activities for The Read In!. A highlight for many students will be the chance to chat online with their favorite authors.
Children’s author Avi, winner of two Newbery Honor Book awards for outstanding children’s literature and a first-time participant in The Read In!, said this event is a valuable learning tool for students because it promotes both reading and writing, skills kids will use throughout their lives. He commented,
“Adding the online component takes the experience even further because it gives students a chance to communicate directly with the author, without adult involvement.”
“It’s important for young readers to have the opportunity to experience a writer as a real person,”
“Technology offers immediacy and intimacy that wouldn’t be possible unless I went to visit every student at every school.”
Other sponsors of The Read-In! include The Global Schoolhouse, Gateway 2000 and Kodak. Support for The Read In! is part of Microsoft’s continuing initiative to help build a global
“Connected Learning Community”
in which all students, educators and parents have access to technology and the tools and skills to use information effectively today and for a lifetime. Microsoft is committed to providing the high-quality software and services needed to make the best use of technology in education.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use; each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Microsoft, BackOffice and NetShow are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
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