Final Wrap Up

My original question was whether or not technology was effective in the aid of struggling readers. The answer to this question was simple, yes, it is an extremely useful tool for struggling readers in the elementary setting. I narrowed down my question to: What technology is effective in aiding struggling readers in the classroom and in the home setting. This was a really fun topic for me to explore given my personal connection.

At first I struggled to nail down specific programs or websites, because I just was not sure what I was looking for and what was legit and useful. So, I decided to research what made struggling readers struggle. This was an important part of my research because it enabled me to understand the causes of reading disabilities and to locate and recognize effective and ineffective programs, apps and websites. Once I understood the topic at a deeper level, I dug right in. I found award winning programs used in schools around the country, some of which utilized technology in their approach and others that did not. I Was able to find a slew of apps for free to be used in the classroom and also at home. The apps were engaging and really caught the interest of readers from what I was able to tell. I also found resources at the public library for families with out access to technology at home, all of which were free and covered the main characteristics of a good reading program. I was thrilled with the free website I found that could be used in all avenues; classroom, home, portable devices and on a home computer; Scootpad.

If I had more time and resources, I would learn more about the programs specifically designed for the classroom. Through my research I discovered that some of these programs required intense teacher training for implementation in the classroom. I would love to be apart of something like this. Helping struggling readers is definitely a passion of mine and I could really take this topic to a much deeper level if given the time and opportunity.

I really loved this 20 percent project. This is the first time that I have been able to pick the topic I wanted to research without some kind of restraint. I felt like I could dig as deep as I wanted to find the answers to my questions. Which ultimately meant I dug deeper because it was about something I was interested in. I really hope that I can participate in another 20 percent topic sometime in my college carrier and I look forward to trying something like this in my future classroom, too.

I think learners will be able to benefit from this project in various ways. Students can, like I have done, research something that they find interesting. This can make a huge difference in the type of research they do and the information the collect and compile. I would not mind trying this kind of activity with fourth or fifth graders and have it set up in a similar way as this project was constructed with periodic submission dates, etc. Learners might also be able to uncover hidden passion while researching a 20 percent project in addition. This project is fantastic.

While this project is fantastic for me and I can imagine other students, as well. It might be hard for students who lack drive or motivation. If it is implemented well, this project can have great outcomes. But, if execution of this project is not done well, the project may prove to be difficult for some learners. Students might have a hard time picking a topic or figuring out where to start once a topic has been chosen. It is important, just as implemented in this course, that the teacher be available to help students along the way when they struggle at certain points.

All in all, I am a fan of the 20 percent project!

Technology Resources to Help Struggling Readers at Home

This week my goal was to find free resources parents could use at home on their home computer. There is no shortage of available and beneficial apps for ipads, kindles and smart phones, but I realize every family might not have access to these devices. If families do not have a home computer, there are available computers for use at every local library. Although I understand that technology cannot replace parent/child interaction, I think the use of technology has proved to engage students and keep them interested in different ways.

I was able to find resources at the local library where children could select a book series, such as Cat in the Hat, and have the story read aloud to them, play interactive games and complete assessment tests for each series. I thought this was a wonderful resource for parents to use either to add variety in the home interaction or in the case that a family did not have access to a home computer or technology devices.

The best at home website I was able to find was truly remarkable, it’s called Scootpad. Scootpad is an interactive website that is completely free and is available to use in the classroom as well in conjunction with the student’s teacher. It offers assistance in reading as well as math. Scootpad can be accessed at home and is based off of each child’s grade level and reading level. The child will take a beginning assessment test to determine what games should be accessed first. The program keeps up with the child’s progress and creates specific assessments as the students progresses. Teachers can set up rewards for students to earn in the classroom and classmates can message each other with words of encouragement and praise as other students complete a level. I believe this website can be beneficial in any k-6 classroom and home. As an added bonus, it is also available for download in the apple and android markets for free. http://scootpad.com/

Thank you, Lauren for your post! I hoped that this blog could be beneficial to others as well as myself and I really wanted the websites to be available for any reader to access. I truly believe that parent involvement is key when helping struggling readers and that involvement shines into the classroom as well. I have learned a lot about this topic and really bettered myself as not only an early childhood education student, but also as a parent.

Understanding Why Readers Struggle

      This week I realized that I needed to do more research  into what made a beginning reader struggle in order to find technology that would be beneficial. Last week I found an article from Johns Hopkins School of Education that highlighted various reading programs that have been beneficial in elementary education. Each of these programs identified trending problematic areas for struggling readers; phonological awareness, early intervention, fluency, comprehension, strategy instruction and written components. The three most powerful areas that I have seen addressed are phonological awareness, early intervention and comprehension. It seems to me that a good technological tool to aid struggling readers must have these three components.

        Although, not all of the programs that were listed last week included a technology aspect of inclusion, some of them did. For example Success for All includes a computer based tutoring session that can be used for up to three students at once on one computer. Their program was called Team Alphie. Team Alphie was used in 30 minute increments each day and touched on all of the important problematic tendencies for struggling readers. It accesses each students strengths and weaknesses and adjusts the games and reading portions to each individual student.  I felt like this program was a truly genius tool in helping children learn to read. The only down fall I saw was that this program could only be used in the classroom and was not for in home use. Here is a link to the program description: http://www.successforall.org/Elementary/Schoolwide-Support-and-Intervention-Tools/Computer-Assisted-Tutoring-Tools/

       The technology program READ 180 was a technological tool that I saw implemented in various successful reading programs, as well. Read 180 has been constructed to help all levels of learners from elementary, middle and high school grade levels. This program is also used in the classroom along with teacher instruction. Their model includes a whole group instruction then the students move into small group rotations where the read 180 software is implemented. The software focuses on all problem areas. After the small group rotation, the students gather back together for a whole-group wrap up. Again, this program is used for in classroom use only. http://read180.scholastic.com/reading-intervention-program/about

       As I have researched this topic, it is important to remember that teacher/parent involvement are key factors to the programs success and technology can never replace those valuable support systems. However, technology can be a very valuable tool used to engage each student on the ladder of successful reading fluency and comprehension.

Various apps that can be used at home for struggling readers:

This is the same link I found last week, but after reading more about struggling readers, these apps seem to be the most important of the list:

Fundamentals:

  • Alphabet ZooAlphabet Zoo is a great tool for helping young readers to recognize letter sounds. Using text and pictures of animals, kids can build their reading skills while having fun.
  • Find the Letters HDA favorite of special education teachers and psychologists, this app asks learners to find letters and numbers in a coloring grid. It helps build skills in spatial positioning, depth orientation, form discrimination, and concentration and attention.
  • First Words SamplerPreschoolers with a reading disability can get a head start on improving their skills with this app that teaches them about letters and words using fun graphics and sounds.
  • Montessori CrosswordsEmbrace the Montessori method by using this app to help youngsters improve their spelling and reading skills through engaging phonics-based exercises.
  • Read & Write :Students can practice reading and writing letters using this application. Users can trace letters, learn letter sounds, and get illustrations to go along with each part of the alphabet.
  • Sound LiteracyWith a portion of the proceeds from this app going to the Dyslexia Association, there’s no reason not to sign on. Even better, the app is incredibly useful, employing the Orton-Gillingham method to help students recognize the spellings of English phonemes.
  • weesay ABCUsing pictures, words, and sounds, this application makes it easy for young students to practice and learn their ABCs.
  • abc PocketPhonicsThis app is a great tool for teaching reading disabled students the fundamentals of letter sounds and shapes.
  • The Writing MachineBy correlating pictures and words, reading text, sounding out letters, this tool helps students develop early literacy abilities with greater ease.
  • WordSortOne of the top educational apps out there, this game helps kids to learn how to identify parts of speech, like nouns, adverbs, and verbs, as well as emphasizing grammar skills.
  • ABC Phonics Word Families: Using analogy phonics (or word families) this application teaches young learners to see and hear the patterns of commonality in a set of words. With flashcards, spelling words, scrambled words, and games, this app is a must-have for helping students.

Reading:

  • BlioBlio offers all the same features of any basic e-reader, and also a few things that make it unique. Through synchronized highlighting and a serial presentation view, the app helps those with reading disabilities make sense of the text, something many other similar apps don’t offer.
  • Read 2 MeFor those who have difficulty reading, apps like Read 2 Me can be a godsend. The app comes complete with an entire library of texts, all of which can be read out loud.
  • Read2GoIf you use DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) books in your classroom, Read2Go is one of the best and most accessible ways to read those books on iOS.
  • AppWriterDesigned with reading and writing disabilities in mind, this text editor for iPad integrates numerous accessibility features into standard text editing functionality.
  • AudiobooksSometimes students with reading disabilities might just want a break from reading books the old fashioned way. That’s why this amazing collection of free audiobooks can come in handy, offering access to classics like Romeo and Juliet and Treasure Island.
  • Bob’s BooksBob’s Books uses phonics-based interactive games to help kids learn how to read. Activities will help young learners to sound out words, spell, and make connections between letters and sounds.
  • iStoryTimeThere are numerous titles to choose from in the iStoryTime series, all of which allow kids to have the book read to them or to get help reading it themselves.
  • MeeGenius! Kids’ BooksMeeGenius is another series that’s perfect for practicing reading skills. Those with trouble reading can use illustrations and helpful word highlighting to get help, or just have the book read to them until they’re confident enough to do it on their own.
  • Reading TrainerWhile this app is designed to help average readers boost their reading speed and ability, it can be useful to those who struggle as well, as many of the skills taught can help just about anyone become a more confident reader.
  • See Read SayThis application will help to ensure that young learners are familiar with all of the Dolch sight words (the most common words), using games, activities, and tons of practice.
  • Stories2LearnWhy use existing stories to help troubled readers when you can build your own? This application lets you develop your own text and audio stories, including messages, topics, and other things that can help keep kids interested.
  • eReading seriesThe eReading series from Brain Integration LLC, helps young readers at all levels of proficiency learn about topics like Greek Mythology and Gulliver’s Travels. Users can have the book read to them, or practice reading without the help, too.

 

I am still struggling to find websites that can be used at home for extra help, but I did find a guide for parents to use and realized how helpful it was for me, as a parent to a struggling reader; http://dyslexia.yale.edu/PAR_10thingstohelpchild.html

In conclusion, I think I have a better grasp of the areas students have problems with. I have read about wonderful programs that have had great success rates and feel like now that I have a little deep understanding of these programs, helping my future students and their parents will be a little easier for me. My goal for this last week is to find free and beneficial websites for students to use at home and in the classroom ( I have already found a great resource for apps above).

 

June 16, 2013

My draw to this topic is personal. My boy twin, who just finished the first grade, really struggled with reading entering into this academic year. A lot of his problems came from having a twin sister in the same class that would always read for him. He grew accustomed to this and just did not try to better his reading skills because he knew his sister would be there to help him through worksheets and homework. So when first grade rolled around, I decided to separate them. My boy twin landed in the classroom of an amazing teacher with 31 years of experience and a true gift at teaching struggling learners how to read. Within a few months, my child could read. It was truly amazing. So, after this experience, I would like to learn various technological tools to help my future students who might struggle with reading. I would like to share websites with my students and their families to help in the reading process,as well. This is how my 20% project came to be…

With the help of Gretchen, our professor  for this course, I narrowed down the focus of my topic to the specific uses of technology in the aid of struggling readers. I first came across a website with a lot of information and links to various helpful reading websites. http://www.readingrockets.org/helping/experts/gray/#q7 This website also has information pertaining to children with special needs such as dyslexia and the use of technology in special education classrooms. Back to my specific topic, the Dr. suggested sites to help struggling readers. Click on the link and scroll down to the Q&A session with a parent who wanted to help her 9 year old who struggles with reading.

I also found a great article from the Johns Hopkins School of Education site that suggested 6 reading programs to help struggling readers. They included Success For All, Reading Recovery, the Spalding Method, Early Intervention Reading, the Boulder Project, and the Winston-Salem Project. As of right now I am gathering information and will investigate these programs in depth this following week. http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/literacy/articles/helping-struggling-readers/ This site also mentions that students struggle with reading due to lack of two critical reading skills: phonics and comprehension. I would like to find technology that focuses on these two subjects to help students with reading for this project.  I loved this quote and might use it in my presentation for the project:

” It should also be noted that while any one program may help struggling readers, none is a “cure-all” solution. As a reading expert in this study observed, “It’s not just the method, it’s the teacher.” Teacher knowledge, training, and skill are essential to implementing any program that focuses on struggling readers. It appears likely, however, that teachers will have more success when they use programs that incorporate phonics, reading for meaning, tutoring, and an at-home component. Struggling readers can and will make progress in their reading abilities when taught by informed and committed educators.”

I found a fabulous website with links to 50 ipad apps to help struggling readers. The link is as follows; http://www.teachthought.com/apps-2/50-popular-ipad-apps-for-struggling-readers-writers/

this site from Yale suggests using the Kindle to read books aloud to the student:

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/EDU_KidsCantWait.html

  • Suggest use of assistive technologies currently available that read material aloud to the student.  The Kindle would be an example of this kind of technology, but there are many similar devices being introduced into the market all the time.
  • If the book/content has been made into a film or covered in a film, suggest that the student watch it to help give a context to the story or content.

 

I liked this….