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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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First Lady brings literacy initiative to Bush School with interactive app

First Lady Barbara Bush reads excerpts from “Rushmore” to school children across the nation in 2015.
Photo by Shelby Knowles — THE BATTALION

First Lady Barbara Bush reads excerpts from “Rushmore” to school children across the nation in 2015.

Grade school students across the globe got the chance to learn about and interact with American history Thursday morning as the Bush School live-streamed First Lady Barbara Bush reading excerpts from “Rushmore,” by Lynn Curlee.
After the reading and an app demonstration, students from across the United States, Canada and Ghana were able to ask Bush questions in a live-stream Q&A session. The oral reading also provided a platform to introduce a new interactive reading app called “Aurasma,” by Hall Davidson.
Bush made it her mission in 1989 to increase family literacy, focusing simultaneously on childhood education and adult literacy for parents through the creation of the Barbara Bush Family Literacy Foundation. Bush said she chose literacy as her philanthropy because it is impossible to do well in life without the ability to read.
“I chose literacy because every American — I’m quoting Abraham Lincoln — has the right to rise,” Bush said. “Every American can’t rise unless they can read, graduate from high school, go on to some college or university or community school where they learn a trade.”
Bush said America has neglected the people who can’t read and that citizens should be grateful for the teachers who try and teach children how to read.
“If you don’t read by third grade, the chances are you are not going to ever read,” Bush said. “And then that means you will never get a job, you’ll probably go to jail and that’s tragic, so I chose literacy because if more people could read, write and comprehend then they will get to rise in our country.”
Bush said she thinks digital books may help teach children to read, giving an anecdote of a friend’s daughter learning to read from an iPad.
“I think technology is going to change the way we learn,” Bush said. “I think if used correctly and monitored, technology will change the world.”
Hall Davidson, educational innovator in digital learning for Discovery Education , said a big focus is placed on making technology interactive with existing books rather than just making books digitally accessible.
Davidson demonstrated the interactive features of “Aurasma” with Rushmore. By waving a phone over the pages of the book, the user can unlock supplemental material. With some books, users can “go inside” and “move around” a virtual world modeled after settings in the book.
Both Bush and the children present at the reading participated in creating a supplemental video that can be watched through the app when using it on “Rushmore.”
“Let me just say that as far as I know, this is largest collaboration of authoring that has ever been done. So we think this is the world’s largest augmented reality authoring session,” Davidson said.
Mark Wright, KBTX General Manager, gave the students in attendance and watching via video stream one last piece of advice to get them involved in reading.
“Reading provides you with an exciting discovery and adventure,” Wright said. “You may enhance your reading with the AR app as Mr. Hall talked about a minute ago. Find a reading buddy, have fun reading.”

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