• November 27, 2020
 Montwood High’s ‘virtual book tastings’ encourage reading by using technology

Montwood High’s ‘virtual book tastings’ encourage reading by using technology

Montwood High School brought literacy and technology together with a new program called Virtual Book Tasting. The technique allows students to use their laptops to sample, checkout and read eBooks.

The idea is similar to a popular trend nationwide called book tasting, in which students look at three or four book titles at their school library and determine if they want to read the literature. But a virtual book tasting lets students use any mobile device to check out eBooks they like and return it when they are ready. There are no deadlines or late fees.

“The idea is for students to enjoy reading and to really develop a lifelong appreciation for reading and for literature,” said Dr. Kirk Macon, lead librarian at Montwood. “It’s the first time it is done anywhere in El Paso, not just in our district.”

The lesson blends the district’s DNA 1:1 initiative (one laptop for every high school student) MackinVIA (the SISD libraries’ eBook system), Nearpod (an instructional software with interactive learning experiences) and student choices about their own independent reading or finding “just the right book,” Macon said.

Students click on MackinVIA eBook summaries, develop their own “backpack” of books based on genres, and personal preferences of reading material, and then check out the items virtually, he said.

“We just have a lot of options out there,” he said. “The eBooks are great. This is what we will be doing from now on.”

Montwood library media specialist Jennifer Marquez said the students have really enjoyed the process.

“Every student we’ve served has been engaged and enthusiastic about the library and 21st century learning,” Marquez said.

Alyssa Orozco, ninth grader, found that the program made browsing, checking out and reading books easier.

“You don’t have to go through the aisles,” Orozco said. “You just search it on your laptop and its right there for you. I thought it was interesting finding out all the different types of books they have available. I like the variety. I find this is much more relaxing. I think it was really cool.”

Classmate Kayla Jimenez said she sampled four books and found one she liked.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “We got the chance to find w

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