Print vs. digital: Tupelo schools search for balance to promote success

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – The digital age is here to stay in education, but educators aren’t putting traditional teaching methods back on the shelf.

The Tupelo School District has been known to infuse technology into the classroom at its 13 campuses.

Kindergarten through fifth grade across the district are turning the page to a different experience.

“Hey, do these children have enough books to read?” That one question asked by Tupelo’s superintendent ignited an entire district-wide book-distributing program.

Dr. Amy Ferguson is the Director of Elementary Curriculum for the Tupelo School District.

She remembers the day the initiative started a year ago.

“Dr. Picu came in my office and he said, ‘Hey, do these children have enough books to read?’ And I said sure they do. And he said ‘Well let’s just go out and take a look.’,” said Ferguson.

Both educators were shocked by the results.

“And what we found is there were not a lot of books in the classroom for students to read for choice,” said Ferguson.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most non-textbooks were damaged, missing, or thrown away due to fears of spreading the virus.

Most students only had access to digital reading.

Ferguson said students need traditional and modern reading tools.

“Students need to be able to read digitally because a lot of what we do is digital reading nowadays. But we also need to read with print,” said Ferguson.

There’s just something about turning the pages.

“There’s a lot of experience in text, paper text. Beginning readers really need the physicalness of a book and being able to track their words,” said Ferguson.

Studies show people comprehend information more effectively when they use multiple senses: seeing the words, feeling the weight of the pages, and even smelling the paper.

Ferguson believed giving students the option to turn the page would impact the school district for years to come.

“I think one thing, is students are going to love reading again. And they’re going to have opportunities to really get into reading inside the classroom. The types of books that we chose were social studies, science topics, nonfiction, and multicultural. I think that’s gonna give students a lot of background knowledge. And I think we’re gonna see higher test scores and higher reading comprehension levels the more students gain this back knowledge,” said Ferguson.

For 24/7 news and updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Categories: Featured, Local News