Yesterday we took a look at a few apps recommended for children with learning disorders or difficulty with reading. Today, we’ll take a closer look at one program used by more than 800,000 students. iStation Reading is a research-based literacy program that aims to provide students with the fundamentals of reading.
The monthly assessment enables teachers to clearly communicate to their students their progress. Christopher Liang-Vergara of Firstline Schools says, “The monthly ISIP (iStations Inidicators of Progress) assessment has been a great feature to benchmark progress and also messages to students in a simple ‘last month you were here and you need to grow x points’ “.
From the class roster, a list of unique usernames and passwords are generated enabling students to log in to iStation with their own account. From multiple choice and fill-in-the-black questions, the assessment adapts to the student’s performance. If a student is struggling with a particular concept, the program continues to present questions in that area until it seems the student can progress to the next level.
The product’s page boasts that the program:
- Differentiates and delivers individualized instruction with Benchmark and Continuous Progress Monitoring assessments through ISIP.
- Helps students achieve reading progress with motivating animated lessons, readings, and additional skill practice.
- Continuously assesses student progress and identifies students who need additional support through instantly published reports.
- Utilizes automatically linked recommended teacher-directed lessons and supplemental materials to deliver targeted instruction for individuals or small groups.
FIVE KEY READING AREAS
The video animation here has the student clap along with the pronunciation of a word. BI-CY-CLE. The animation also separates single-syllable words into individual phonemes. The word FEET stretches over the pronunciation of the hard F, to the long vowel E, finally ending in the hard T sound.
The letter R changes the sound of the vowel O in the word STORM. The Phonics animation teaches the student about concepts similar to the R-Controlled Vowel and other characteristics of sounding out words.
I’m starting to learn a few things here myself. Either that or I’m getting annoyed with my native language. The word GIVE apparently breaks a rule. Normally, the vowel E at the end of this word would “make the ‘I’ say its name.” (Like the word “eye”.) In the Vocabulary animation, the student is taught about individual words and how to say them, especially the ones that don’t “follow the rules.”
The Fluency game plays words and sounds to the user, who must then select the appropriate item on the screen. A basic multiple choice game populated by fun shapes of fish, birds, spaceships, etc.
This teaches the concepts of the Main Idea, Cause and Effect, Critical Thinking (about short reading passages), Summarization, and Inferencing. Correctly answered multiple choice questions are greeted with a pleasant “ding” and an encouraging “that’s right!”.
Reading comprehension really is a game of rote memorization. Memorization and absorption. The way we understand that the vowel sound in the word GIVE is short and not long is simply through hearing it over and over again. Our brain then stores that memory away and we access it everytime we say or read the word. Little games like those in iStation are useful tools for beginning readers, whose minds are sponges ready to be soaked in knowledge.