Berkeley Unified School District in California is made up of almost 10,000 students in Pre-K through 12th grade. Berkeley USD ran a 5-site Pilot in the 2014-2015 school year, and recently expanded to a full Tales2go subscription in all 11 Elementary sites for the 2015-2016 school year. BUSD takes pride in their small class sizes, diversity and commitment to engaging their students in enriching subjects. They receive Title 1 funding and over 40% of students district-wide receive free and reduced lunch.
Literacy is a key initiative in Berkeley USD. They have literacy coaches at every school and the district understands the need for literacy in all fields. They also know that listening is part of literacy. They needed to be able to provide extra reading support at one price point, have ease of access and ease of use, especially for elementary users.
Emerson Elementary Librarian and Berkeley Teacher Librarian, Mary Ann Scheuer, is an innovative thinker and educator and is always looking for ways to encourage students to embrace literacy.
“We needed to find a new way to support and provide access to audio books…at the end of the day, I want kids to love reading…The way they’re going to do that is by finding a story that lights their imagination on fire. Audio books, especially ones with fantastic narrators, have that ability to tap into somebody’s imagination and make it blossom… Audio books provide one way into, and an important way into, building listening comprehension.”
– Mary Ann Scheuer, Berkeley Teacher Librarian
Students in BUSD use Tales2go in a multitude of ways. They listen together in groups, color while they listen to a story, or just listen to escape to a different world. Kids even want to give up their recess time to listen to Tales2go! Educators, including ELL teachers at some of the Berkeley sites, immerse students in the language and the concepts Tales2go provides during literacy rotations or quiet reading time. Students are required to read 30 minutes per night and Tales2go is an option for completing that assignment.
The educators at Berkeley USD found that Tales2go increases the motivation to read, which leads to closing the word gap. Students are able to listen at a higher level and are even able to join book clubs about books they may not have otherwise been able to read. Not only are their struggling readers listening, but some of their passionate readers are listening as well. They now have untethered access to thousands of titles without having to go to the public library.