Virtual service ‘Ignite! Reading’ teaches skills to Little Rock kids
A virtual, one-to-one, 15-minute-a-day tutoring program in elementary and middle school reading is getting a tryout in a dozen Little Rock School District schools this semester. Because of “Ignite! Reading,” about 1,000 pupils throughout Arkansas’ capital city don blue headsets with microphones, open their child-size laptops and interact with their individually assigned tutors such as Ms. Bridget who is located in distant New Jersey. “Puh, puh, pin,” one child in Madison Camp’s first grade classroom at Western Hills Elementary puffs into the headset mic to the delight of her tutor, who is visible in one corner of the screen that is mostly filled with a grid of three-letter words. As the tutor moves the cursor from word to word, the child sounds out the letters, blends the sounds and comes up with the word: “bub-buh bun” and “veh, et, vet.” There is a quiet hum in the classroom as Camp works with a small group of pupils and the rest of the first graders sit at their desks and quietly respond to prompts from the online tutors. The Ignite-trained tutors move the cursors, pause for a response, move, pause, and go up and down and across the screens. In one case the floating cursor is in the shape of a unicorn, a nod to a particular child’s affinity for the legendary creature. Not seen on the screens are the literacy specialists who can check in and out of the individual tutoring sessions to supervise and support the tutors. The daily 15-minute tutoring sessions — all part of the block of a school’s time set aside each morning for literacy — end with a quick game such as I Spy, or a celebratory show of fireworks.