Tapestry Charter School students are receiving 200 computers with a special reading program. Computers For Children has teamed with IBM and First Niagara to provide The Reading Companion program, cloud-based software with voice recognition to help students improve their reading. As WBFO'S Focus on Education reports, the App is especially helpful to international students.
Tapestry Charter student Maimuna Salim from Kenya talked in her native language to her mother. Salim was showing her how the voice activated Reading Companion program assists to pronounce and read words.
"It helps me a lot. It helped me with my vocab and spelling and the more I read, the better I get," said Salim.
Salim and her family have been in Buffalo for 12 years. She has learned English and has improved her reading but for her mother, language remains a struggle.
"It would help my mother. Her vocab, she got better at it, but the more she reads the better we get," said Salim.
But now, thanks to Computers For Children, Tapestry students are being provided with a computer reading program they can take home and share with their families.
"Trying to get the language to match and the tests that we have to give high school students are very real, and it's a goal, and so step by step it's all about showing the kids that it's a matter of growth incremental steps," said Tapestry principal Lynn Bass.
Tapestry teacher Tiffany Fanning is finding success with her ESL students. Fanny said teachers can track reading comprehension and vocabulary trouble spots.
"So that way as a teacher, I know what words to reinforce with my students. Some students may not know the meaning of these words," said Fanning. "So these are words I can review in my ESL or literacy setting."
Bereshna Hashmatllah is from Afghanistan and grew up in Russia.
"My reading, I'm not saying is really good. It is okay, but my pronunciation is really different from America," said Hashmatllah.
Hashmatllah has only been in Buffalo for two years. working on her reading and learning vocabulary.
"It have like different topics, so you can learn about it. Like about a test, about any book, you know, it's different information you can learn.
IBM donated the software and First Niagara the computers. Computers For Children refurbished about 4,000 computers with the new reading program to distribute in the community.