School children from Woolwich and Louisiana join together in a Sponsored Transatlantic Sleepover

London E14 9GE, (PresseBox) - For the first time, pupils from Woolwich Polytechnic in Thamesmead will be joined for part of their annual sponsored sleepover by students from two schools in Louisiana, USA. Organised by reading specialist, Renaissance Learning (, the schools will be linked together live by video conference as the Woolwich students raise money for their school at the sponsored 'Overnighter' event on Friday, 16 May 2008.

Woolwich Polytechnic is being twinned with Lea Junior High School and JS Clark School in Monroe, Louisiana in a project which aims to give London students an insight into school life in another country, learn more about other cultures and share a love of reading. All three schools use Accelerated Reader, a motivational online reading tool from Renaissance Learning, to help improve student literacy levels. The twinning project will enable the students to discuss books and take part in fun Accelerated Reader quizzes together to encourage them to enjoy reading.

Beverley Humphrey, Learning Resources Manager and Learning Gateway Coordinator, Woolwich Polytechnic, commented: "I am really excited and optimistic about the twinning project and the sleepover! I think it will have very positive effects on all the students involved. Children love using new technologies and are already very confident in using them to communicate. In combining making friends with learning about other cultures, the project will benefit all the pupils. It will also be wonderful for staff to share good practice, exchange ideas and problem solve as many issues are not country specific and new viewpoints on old problems are always helpful and appreciated.

"Using the exciting Accelerated Reader technology as an aid to encouraging reading has proved really popular and we have seen some great results. By connecting with American schools, which also use Accelerated Reader, Woolwich pupils will be able to make their National Year of Reading celebrations an International Year of Reading. This fantastic project will help us emphasise the importance of good literacy skills not matter where you live or your future aspirations."

Using new Web 2.0 technologies and video conferencing, the twinning project will allow pupils from totally different backgrounds to discuss topical issues and work together on group projects. The project aims to encourage reading and reinforces the importance of good literacy skills as the students discuss their favourite books.

James Bell, Director of Professional Services, Renaissance Learning UK, commented: "This is not the first time that Renaissance Learning has arranged for schools in the UK and USA to get together but it is the first time that a live video link will be used and we are delighted once again to be involved. The project is set to be an exciting and beneficial endeavour which we hope will further encourage literacy within the schools. The Overnighter offers a great opportunity for the schools to meet and will allow them to get to know each, marking the beginning of project which will bring pupils together despite being over 4, 000 miles apart."

About AlphaSmart

AlphaSmart, a Renaissance Learning company, is a provider of technology solutions for education and productivity, focused on reducing cost and enhancing keyboard skills.

The Neo by AlphaSmart is a portable notebook - a keyboard with a small inbuilt screen that can display up to six lines of text at a time. Pupils can type their text in and edit using traditional word-processing tools such as the spell check and thesaurus. Text can then be transferred through USB or IrDA to a computer, and pupil's work can then be printed out. In addition, the Neo comes with a basic touch-typing tutor and a calculator function and is ideal for use by students, SEN pupils, writers and journalists.

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