Champaign School Using Flip Cams to Help Students Read

CHAMPAIGN - Garden Hills Elementary School is going going digital when it comes to reading.  Teachers are using flip cams to help guide students with their reading.  The technique is also helping parents connect to the classroom to see for themselves what their child needs to work on.

"It like shows me what I do, like skip punctuation and stuff on the tape so when it's my time to read I like do it better," explained 4th grader Rashaud Exum who has had problems with reading. 

It's everything you expect to see in an elementary classroom, students practicing their reading out loud.  What's different in this equation is a teacher sticking a camera next to the student while he or she reads.

"I think it's important for them to see what they're doing and to able to look back and take ownership and say this is what I need to work on," explained 4th grade teacher Jodi Kirby.

Students like Exum will look at their mistakes and correct them on the spot with the help of their teacher.

The school has a program called C.A.F.E. which stands for comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and expanded vocabulary.  Teachers have worked with students on C.A.F.E for about a year, and the flip cam enhances all of that.

"We have focused on student's enrichment during collaborations with the staff, record students and staff found it very beneficial especially when they played it back with them," said principal Cheryl O'Leary.  "Mrs. Kirby took it a step further, she started communicating the video tapes she collected with the parents via email."

Kirby will send Exum's mother mother video of him reading.  She said not only does it help him, but it keeps families connected to the classroom.

"I don't think parents are so familiar the strategies that we're working on at school and to be able to take that home and have more involvement there is beneficial," said Kirby.

She said the number one question she gets from parent conferences is how to help their children.  The principal said the idea is growing like wildfire in the school

Educators said once technology came around they knew it was just a matter of time before techniques like this would creep into the classroom.

"For years video conferencing has been done in the business world and for a chance we've taken video conferencing into education," said O'Leary.

Exum said he's no longer skipping words, and is able to cold read without being scared.

"Yeah it helps me build my confidence because when I read it helps me better to read fluency and stuff," said Exum.

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