Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
By William Kincaid
MP3 players helping high school students with reading disabilities
  COLDWATER - High school students with reading disabilities are getting additional help this year with the school's recently purchased MP3 players, according to resource specialist Marge Hoops.
During the regular meeting on Tuesday evening, Hoops notified board members the school has purchased eight MP3 players - at a cost of around $50 apiece - which are being utilized in English classes.
Those with disabilities are using the new technology to listen to vocabulary words during free time in class, as well as entire audio books downloaded for free from a state of Ohio Website.
"I'm telling you these are not fluffy books," Hoops said. "They're classics."
According to Hoops, some students will listen to the audiobooks - which are read at a slow pace - while simultaneously reading the assigned book. Hoops said teachers hope the MP3 players will aid in the student's understanding of the novels.
Whether the students read or just listen to the audiobooks, Hoops said school officials hope the technology augments comprehension of the material, while allowing all students to participate in class discussions.
"This is a good cheap technology that everyone can use," she said.
The eight MP3 players are located in the high school library and can only be checked out by teachers, according to Hoops. She also said students will only be able to use the devices in class, as they cannot be taken out of the school.
Hoops said students who have their own personal MP3 players will be able to bring them into school and download the audiobook to the device. However, she pointed out that iPod brand MP3 players are not compatible with the school's computer programs.
She also pointed out that audiobooks on CD would cost at least $25 apiece.
Hoops said she hopes school officials can continue to take advantage of the cheap technology and expand its usage to all students in high school, junior high and elementary.
"There is no limit to how much we can help our students with this technology," she said.
In other news, High School Principal Steve Keller said a Coldwater police officer will be present at the homecoming dance on Sept. 22 for the second year in a row. Keller said the presence of a police officer - who will be paid for his or her two hours through student council funds - may encourage students to make the right decisions before they even walk in the door.
"We want a little additional assistance with this," Keller said.
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