If you like Tales2Go’s ability to read simple tales to a roomful of kids, you will love its latest update. The software still works on PCs, Android and iOS devices with 4,500 stories available but can now be run without a constant Web connection because the program can now cache full stories to be played over and over again. It also now includes a Lexile measure of the story’s difficulty.
Rather than desktops or even notebooks, students are more often than not reaching for tablets when it’s time to work on reading, vocabulary and comprehension. After all, using a full windows or Mac computer for this task might seem like a waste of precious resources. Enter the latest reading aids, which have the power to turn a slate into a learning machine.
Pearson’s second edition of its Developmental Reading Assessment is now available for iPads, making it easier to get into the hands of students; sorry, Android schools are out in the cold. The app comes with a variety of reading passages, including fiction and nonfiction ones. The software is comprehensive, covering everything from observation and recording reading performance to evaluating any changes. It’s good for students from Kindergarten to 8th grade and is a free download, but you need to subscribe to Pearson’s content.
Meanwhile, the recently updated PlanetRead! combines reading instruction with help in mastering the often impenetrable rules of spelling. It places the focus firmly on fun with interactive games, stories and images so the kids will hardly know they’re learning. Based on the notion that phonics should be used in every aspect of language arts and not memorized, the app is aimed at early learners with 54 stories that kids can go through. It tracks progress and rewards those who can master the material. Available for the iPhone and iPad, there’s no Android software available here as well. If you like, PlanetRead! Can be used over the summer break to help those lagging and so that students keep their skills sharp.
Schools that use Android slates don’t despair because Pocket Verbal Ability is for you. The Android and Chromebook app can not only improve the vocabulary that kids have but the app has been built around more than 3,000 practice questions that frequently show up in the most used standardized exams. The program covers everything from idioms to antonyms and its questions have been categorized and based on level of difficulty, allowing teachers to tailor the software for an individual, class or group of students.
What if you have a mix of Androids and iPads and don’t care to get involved in the war between platforms? Think about Vocabulary.com, a browser-based system that can help kids learn the right words. Just point a connected slate at vocabulary.com and the words, meanings and sentences start flowing. You can either paste-in words of interest or up to 100-pages of text from an ebook or text. The site then puts together a class-wide activity to learn the key words through a series of quizzes. There’s a fill-in dictionary box at the top and you can even set the site up to deliver a weekly word quiz to students’ email inboxes.
While it was designed for use with home-schoolers, Vocabulary SpellingCity can open up a world of words to young students. Available for iPads, Android tablets and over the Web via a browser window, SpellingCity has 30 word-based games including MatchIt Sentences, FlashCards and Parts of Speech. Together, they can expand a class’s vocabulary while helping their spelling. The app automatically tracks each kid’s results, can deliver reports and is free to try out. The premium edition costs $30 for five users.
Forget about lock-step reading instruction where every student needs to read a passage from the same book out loud to the class because myON can custom tailor the curriculum to each kid’s specific style of learning and needs. The program includes unlimited access to myON’s library of over 7,000 ebooks as well as assessments and ways to identify and help struggling students.
The latest for students struggling to keep up with the class is Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord, an iPad app that helps kids maintain attention, remember better what they’ve learned and improve processing skills. Based on animated graphics, the online program is more than a way for them to catch up with the class, it is a method for speeding up their reading rate and ability to learn. It can be used in the classroom, at home or anywhere there’s an Internet connection, and should be out in the fall.