AUSSIE Teaching Comprehension

Company: Australian and United States Services in Education;
System Requirements: Mac: 120 MHz PowerPC, OS 8.6, 64 MB RAM; PC: Pentium II processor, Windows 98/NT 4, 32 MB RAM
Price/Grade: $499 single user, volume pricing available/3-6
Pros: Based on sound research; well organized; ample resources such as lesson plans
Cons: Text-heavy content can be dry

AUSSIE's Teaching Comprehension is a professional development program aimed at training educators to help their students meet state and local reading standards. Comprehensive enough to be a year-long course, it successfully bridges the gap between recent reading research findings and effective classroom practice.

The program looks like a clean, conservative Web site, and it lets educators click through at their own pace. The smartly crafted curriculum is based on six research-defined, comprehension strategies (Prediction/Prior Knowledge, Think Aloud, Text Structure and Features, Visualizing, Summarization, and Question and Questioning), with each one separated by a tabbed module complete with a menu/progress bar. Each module is aptly infused with guiding principles, instructional practices, and assessment plans; the program is a model of sound pedagogical practice as it carefully develops each topic from theory to reflection to practice using 60 hours of activities.

While expertly organized and designed, Teaching Comprehension can be somewhat dry — most of the tutelage is text based. Indeed, its most appealing factor is its well-organized format and the Resource Bank that includes downloadable lesson plans, video clips of techniques in practice, audio interviews, and a 360-degree perspective of virtual classrooms.

Iris Obille Lafferty is an educational consultant in San Diego.