One Minute Reader

One Minute Reader is a product created by Read Naturally, a company founded by a former special education teacher and her husband. They provide different, structured intervention programs aimed at helping children succeed at reading. Their programs develop and support the five essential components of reading , with the One Minute Reader being primarily focused on building reading fluency.

Reading fluency is the ability to read without having to stop and decode each word. A fluent reader will be able to read without pausing every couple of words to figure out what the next word says. Fluency is important, because if a child can read fluently, they can spend less time thinking about what each word says, and more time focusing on what the passage they are reading is about (comprehension). As a former teacher of struggling readers myself, I can tell you that students who were able to read fluently were typically stronger readers than those who could not AND they usually enjoyed reading more. Think about it, how much fun is it to read when it takes a significant amount of time just to sound out each word?

The Read Naturally approach combines elements of teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring to improve reading efficiency. The One Minute Reader does this by having students repeatedly read the same passage over a period of time, both out loud by themselves, then out loud with an audio CD, and finally, out loud to an adult, while keeping track of their reading rate at the same time!

The One Minute Reader starter pack came with a book, a timer, an audio CD and a colored pencil for keeping track of the score. A few of the things I really like about this program are that it doesn’t take a long period of time (my son spent just a few minutes on it each day) and it really is something your older child can do on their own! One Minute Reader includes six different levels, and there are sample stories you can use to determine which level will be best for your child. My son, who has grown tremendously in his reading ability in the past year yet still struggles with fluency, used Level 3 (the purple book).

Now, my son is not a HUGE fan of reading, so ANY extra reading we have to do is pretty much always met with groans! However, when we got this package, he thought the timer was cool, and liked that this was something short that he could do on his own (there are very easy to understand instructions printed on the first page of the book). Plus, the passages in the books are also short (around 200 words or so at this level) and very high interest. This is important because many kids who struggle with reading need a story they will LIKE if they are going to read it willingly. The book I received had stories about a fire, the dust bowl, and Titanic’s sister ship!

On the first day, he read the story by himself and took his “cold” score. This is the number of words he read, minus the number of words he missed, and he recorded it on a graph at the back of the book. The next day he read the story with the CD and again recorded his score, and, yes, he did better. The day after that he read it a few more times himself, then read it with me, and we recorded his “hot” score in red on his graph. After the three days, his score went up by about 70 words!! The book also includes a short quiz students take when they are done, to help build comprehension, and a puzzle they complete as they work through the book. There is also a glossary at the end of the book to explain any unfamiliar words or expressions.

Now, for the important question, did this practice spill over into my son’s every day reading? Because, of course, if it doesn’t then what good is it? Well, I can tell you that I have seen improvement in my son’s day-to-day reading as well. As he becomes more confident, he stumbles less and is now reading entire paragraphs without having to decode. In my classroom, I saw similar improvement with students who used programs like One Minute Reader as well.

This program has won numerous awards, including the Mom’s Choice Award, and the iParenting Media Award. One Minute Reader even has a website where you can get more information about how the program works, see videos, and find out about their risk-free 30 day trial offer!

One Minute Reader starter packs cost $24.95. A “bundle”, which would include the timer, the colored pencil, and 8 books with audio CD’s costs $99.95, and you can buy individual books with CD’s for $12.95.

I really like this program, and I think the cost is reasonable for what you get, but I have to say, I don’t have an extra $100.00 in my budget for this. I would, however, consider getting a few of the individual books to use with my son. If you bought a few at a time, it wouldn’t be too much of an expense. You can check out One Minute Reader and more Read Naturally products at the company website here:
http://www.readnaturally.com/index.htm

Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom is an online program designed to teach children ages 4-10 to read and write to a third-grade level.  The program was created by Dr. Marion Blank, author of The Reading Remedy and the Phonics Plus Five Reading Program. Reading Kingdom actually follows the Phonics plus five approach, addressing the “6 skills needed for reading and writing success”.

The idea behind this approach is that phonics by itself is not enough to teach a child to read, largely because there are so many “rules” and often, the rules can change from word to word, which can be very confusing for someone who is just learning how to read. The Reading Kingdom website has a great PDF detailing how this program is different from other reading programs, and I would definitely suggest looking it over if you want to know more:

http://www.readingkingdom.com/How_is_Reading_Kingdom_different_from_other_reading_systems.pdf

I have to admit, as a reading teacher, I’ve never been completely sold on a “whole-language” approach to reading. However, I have a 4th grade son who still struggles in this area, and phonics alone has not be enough for him, so I really wanted to give this a try.

We started with the skills survey, which took my son about two sessions to complete (he probably could have done it in one, but reading frustrates him, so I try to keep lessons short and sweet). This survey helps to customize the Reading Kingdom program to your child’s unique ability. After completing the survey, your child is placed at the appropriate level to begin the program. The first level is sequencing, but my son actually began at the next level up, Letter Land.

At this level, children practice finding letters on the keyboard, and also practice typing both upper and lowercase letters. This skill is important for the rest of the program, as children will be expected to type, as well as click on, answers.

We spent about two weeks in Letter Land, and from what I understand, the time spent at each level really depends on the child. In general, sessions are designed to be about 15-30 minutes, which was good for us, because with that amount of time on the computer, plus an additional 30 minutes reading with me later, it gave my son about an hour of reading practice daily.Since it was broken up into smaller “sessions” it was easier for him to handle and less frustrating for the both of us! 🙂

While your child is going through the program (and by the way, the “host” of the program is an Owl, which my son loved :)), you can keep track of how they are doing by clicking on the section they are on from the menu, and scrolling to the bottom of the page. Here you will see a graphic detailing their progress:

This made it easy for me to keep track of how he was doing. I tried to spend as much time as possible in the room while he was working, but I found it difficult not to jump in and “help” when he was working on a question, so now I try to listen from outside the room where it’s not so tempting to answer questions for him!! The instructions are very clear that parents are NOT supposed to help their child answer questions, because this makes it harder to truly customize the program to the child’s level. After completing Letter Land, there is another skills survey and then your child will move onto the reading levels.

We have most recently moved on to Reading Level 1, and so far, it is going well. The program can be repetitive, which my son finds boring once and while, however, he enjoys the computer animation and since the sessions are short, it doesn’t bother him too much. So far, he’s had practice reading and spelling basic words (i.e. boys, kids, pet, some etc). Usually he will be shown a picture, and will be given a verbal prompt to click on or spell a word. Other times, he will be given a word and have to fill in missing letters.

At first, my son didn’t pay close attention to the letters (much like he doesn’t in his reading) but after missing quite a few questions, he has learned to look at ALL the letters in the word before answering. This is important for his reading, because my son often makes the mistake of looking at the first few letters and then just saying a word, which is often incorrect (example: misreads “these” for “then” or “there”). I have frequently tried to get him to slow down when we are reading together, and have even made him point to a word letter by letter to really make him look at it, but that usually ends with both of us being angry. I can say that after using Reading Kingdom for a while, I am noticing that during his oral reading, he is paying more attention to the words, which is a big improvement!!

We are hoping to move through Reading Level 1 soon, and then go on to Level 2, and I will likely update this post once we complete the full program. For now, I will say that it is going well and seems to be working. Reading still may not be my son’s favorite part of the day, but this program doesn’t reduce him to tears, and I feel like he is getting some valuable practice out of it. For a parent with a struggling reader who hates to read but still needs to practice, I would recommend Reading Kingdom.

The website offers a free 30-day trial, which you can use to check out the program. After that, a subscription will cost $19.99/month (with no monthly minimum) or $199.99/year. They do offer a scholarship program for families in need, and you can get that info on the website too. Check it out here:

http://readingkingdom.com/index.php

****Note: I was given free access to this program as a member of the TOS Crew for the purpose of writing this review. The opinions represented are my own. ****

Kid Scoop: Reluctant Reader Solution

Do you have a child that cries almost every time you say it’s time for reading? (I do) Are you looking for ways to make reading more fun and less of a fight? (I was) Well, if that’s the case, Kid Scoop may be for you!

For this review, I was given a download of Kid Scoop’s Reluctant Reader Solution, as well as access to their online publication the “Kid Scoop News”.  The program is designed to allow for daily reading practice that is fun and easy. As part of the Reluctant Reader Solution, you get to download 365 reading worksheets.  I know you may be thinking “worksheets? but those are sooo boring.” These worksheets are different. They range in topics from hockey to butterflies, to germs etc.  The worksheets typically consist of a short reading passage, and then activities that include puzzles, vocabulary, word searches, connect the dots….and on and on and on. The worksheets can be studied in chronological order or, you can just pick a topic and go with it.

I wanted to pick topics my younger son (the one who dislikes reading of any kind) would enjoy. We began with hockey, then went on to bigfoot and fire safety (because daddy is a fireman 🙂 ). Printing the worksheets was easy. Each topic has about 6-7 pages to go with it. You can use them all, or pick and choose certain ones.  I can honestly tell you that from the first day, this became the favorite part of my son’s reading time. Because the pages are fun, my son looks forward to them, and that seems to distract him from the fact that he is READING! Since the topics are interesting to him, he is motivated to read on his own and then complete any puzzles or activities that go with it. Some days, he asks to do more pages!!

Of course, we still do a daily reading program, but Kid Scoop is a great supplement to any program. For a child that is reading on their own (from about a 3rd grade level on up) they can do these without a lot of parent support, which means they’re great to use when you need to spend time with another child. I usually do these as a warm up before we begin our other reading instruction, and while my younger son is working on Kid Scoop, I can help my older with math.

I know it sounds fantastic already, but there is more! In addition to the worksheets, you also get access to 12 full-color editions of the online Kid Scoop Newspaper. The Kid Scoop News reminds me of the weekly Scholastic Newspapers my teacher used to get when I was in school! (I loved those things! 🙂 ) Each edition contains articles, puzzles, art projects, games etc. that kids can access online. I’ve begun allowing my son to spend his reading time on Friday perusing the online paper, and he looks forward to that too.  You can print the paper if you want to, or just allow your child to go through it online. My son likes to read online, because anything “computer” is cool. Usually he picks a couple of pages, reads it, then tells me if he wants me to print a game or activity.

The Reluctant Reader Solution costs $97.00, and comes with a 365 day unconditional money-back guarantee! How’s that for confidence in a project. You really have nothing to lose by checking it out. I’m very glad I got a chance to do so. The Kid Scoop website also has a newsletter with reading tips you can sign up for (free!) and other free activities for kids as well. Check out Kid Scoop here:

http://www.kidscoop.com/