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:


  • 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.


  • 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).



One thought on “Understanding Why Readers Struggle

  1. Hey Amanda! I love that you chose this topic, especially since it really hits home for you. I feel like you can relate to it and would be the most dedicated to finding the best information/resources because you have a son who struggled with it. I like that you have so many websites available in your blog, it makes it easy to go straight from what your telling us to the actual website. I couldn’t agree with you more on the issue of parent/teacher involvement. I know from my own experience, the children who were in my Pre-K class that I taught whose parents were more involved and willing to stay and talk with me about what we were doing in class made all the difference for their children. Those were the children who were most interested in their own education, not to say that the students whose parents weren’t involved weren’t as smart they were just less interested.

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