Clementine Anderson of Octavius V.
Catto Community School in Camden,
New Jersey, sends her sixth graders
to the research lab, confident that the
supplemental reading program will
continue where she left off. “Catapult
AchieveReading™ piggybacks on what
I’m doing in the classroom,” she says.
“My reading-challenged students are
two and three grade levels below [other
students in the same grade], on average;
skill reinforcement is a real plus.”
Joe Becza uses MindPlay’s My Reading Coach with Mission Manor students.
Individually tailored programs use downloaded session data to determine the next session’s level. Learnia assessment results are showing a steady increase in literacy scores, Anderson notes. “I tell them, there’s no shame in the game, we all need a little help. The way that it’s presented, they can’t tell that one student might be scaled down to a third-grade level.”
New programs on the literacy scene have inspired many to look to tech to reboot the way kids learn to read. Here are some other inspiring stories of schools finding success in the new landscape of literacy.
Reading Is Music to
Brent Yoder, eighth grade
ELA teacher at Jackson
Intermediate Center in
South Bend, Indiana,
appreciates the Plugged-in to Reading program’s
instant library, which
is complete with CDs,
books, an intuitive grouping system,
and graphic organizers. “The program
allows students to hear fluent reading
from someone other than me,” he says.
“If a character is African American or
Hispanic, they use that speaker. They
get more out of the story if they believe
the person speaking could have lived
the story. They really listen to the
Every nine weeks, Yoder tests, and
he consistently sees improvement.
According to a group growth model
based on state testing, on which the
previous on-level average of Yoder’s
students was in the 50th percentile,
at least two thirds are now in the
90th percentile, working at a level two
grades higher. Yoder’s group usage created a socially acceptable tool to use solo, or during SSR periods. “At first students would go for the thinnest book in the library,” he says. “Now they are grabbing for what they really want to read.”
Students take a break in the “Lobby” of School Specialty’s
Academy of Reading.
Joe Becza, a first grade teacher at Mission Manor Elementary School in Tucson, has been using Mindplay’s My Reading Coach to increase phonemic awareness with his English-language learners. “The virtual
instructor helps students develop
all the sounds that are part of the
English language,” he says. “Students
practice hearing those individual
sounds while seeing the corresponding
letter. They use a mouse to mark
each sound, so it isn’t just counting letters.
It’s an actual human being on the
screen with very clear pronunciation.
In addition to expanding students’
vocabularies with exposure to words
that are not prevalent in the home setting,
Mindplay’s My Reading Coach uses star graphic reinforcements combined with “You made my day!” exclamations by the coach. Teachers access student data,
though a handy visual tipoff offers an
instant progress report. “If the woman
is featured, students are progressing,”
Becza explains. “If the male instructor
takes over, they have slipped into a
remedial situation for that exercise."
A Dynamic Portfolio
Karen Roberts, learning assistance
teacher at Eastview Elementary School
in North Vancouver, British Columbia,
pilots School Specialty’s Academy of
Reading and Portfolio with struggling
readers in second to seventh grades.
“The program breaks reading down
into its minutest skills and presents
those in a drill fashion,” she says.
Portfolio allows students to record
oral reading, beginning with naming
letters, making the sounds of letters,
and pronouncing nonsense syllables
and working up to basic sentences.
Roberts mixes it up with a flip-week
schedule of Academy of Reading and
follows that with applying new skills in
Teachers can also adjust criteria
to keep from frustrating students.
Comparing the pre-test with the
end-of-year post-test, Roberts found
impressive improvement by 90 percent
of her students, and 2 to 3 percent
showed incredible gains.
Karen Roberts uses Academy of Reading and Portfolio with her students.
The program’s built-in “lobby”
allows students to take a breather
and change the background, the motivating
characters, and the print size.
They can even visit their own personal
trophy case for a confidence boost,
though teachers monitor how much
time is spent where.
Keeping students excited is integral
to any successful reading assistance
program and a particular benefit
of combining tech with learning. “If
you’ve got that buy-in from the child’s
point of view, you’re halfway home,”
Tools They Use
Octavius V. Catto
¦ Catapult AchieveReading™ PlusTech
¦ Dell TouchScreen laptops
¦ Dell PCs with printer
¦ Lumens magnifier/projector
¦ New Jersey Edition of Learnia, Pearson
¦ Dr. Janet Allen’s Plugged-in to Reading
¦ ELMO Document Camera
¦ Compass Odyssey
¦ McGraw-Hill Acuity Assessment
¦ karaoke machine
¦ Mindplay’s My Reading Coach
¦ MindPlay T.E.A.M.™: FLRT®
¦ School Specialty’s Academy of Reading and Portfolio
¦ School Specialty’s Academy of Math
¦ Essential Skills software
¦ Simon Sounds It Out software