DALLAS -- Bridgeport Elementary teacher Elaine Austin turns on the computer and the day's lesson comes to life through vibrant colors and a fun story. The best part is the technology used to teach her third- and fourth-grade class is free.
Austin learned about Sylvan Dell eBooks in a teacher resource magazine and applied for a grant that would allow her to use the material free of cost for one year. To her surprise, she was selected for the Sylvan Dell Publishing Resource Grant. A one-year site license to use the eBooks and resources costs schools $599.
About three times a week, Austin powers the flipviewer technology that projects picture books on a screen in her classroom. The full-color books come with audio to teach students about math, science and nature in a new way.
"It's like having a visitor in the classroom that's a voice that's not mine," Austin said. "(The students) are absolutely riveted to the screen. You can hear a pin drop."
The grant also allows Austin access to online resources to help teach her lessons. So far, she has used the eBooks to supplement learning about marine mammals, migrating swans, and the class will soon learn about river and land mammals.
"It's using technology and it's something unique and different for (the students)," Austin said. "Next year when the grant is up, I hope we can purchase them."
The books are a hit with the students as well.
Fourth-grader Keiana Shinkle said the books are very detailed and helped her learn lessons in an entertaining way.
"I think they're fun because they show the pictures and at the end they tell about different animals," Shinkle said. "I like the way they draw the pictures. They make it look actually real."
Shinkle's favorite book was "Water Beds" because the narrative was in poem form that rhymed.
"It's a fun way to teach us about animals," Shinkle said.
Sylvan Dell offers the grant to be able to use literature to teach science and math, according to a release from the company.