Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Computer Time

Every Wednesday during our 5th period English class we go to the Library computers. It is one of the few times my students get to use the computers at school. They would rather be on “you tube” or surfing the web, but we are limited to our reading program. Since my students have difficulty with reading, I did some research last year and came across the “Start to Finish” program that is put together with hi/lo reading material. When requesting the Librarian to purchase a set, I happily became aware that the library already has one. This is a great program. The program allows for the students to interact with the computer. They can read the story from the book directly or can read from the computer screen. The best part of the program is that the cd that accompanies it allows the student to read with the computer, they use earphones and the program will actually read the book to the student while it displays the script. The students also have the opportunity to read most of the book by themselves while being able to check the words they do not recognize by clicking on them. This allows students to read at a speed that is comfortable for them. Hopefully, this makes it easier for the student to comprehend and retain the story line. This is great by itself, but it also has test at the end of each chapter so you can see how well the student comprehends the story. Another feature is the ability to check the student’s reading fluency. Unfortunately, we don’t have the microphones that are required for this portion so we are unable to take advantage of this step. It lets the students see their progress as it will display the test scores on a graph after each chapter test. The students have learned how to use this program which is very simple. They have also learned how to install this program on the computers because we are forced to upload the program each time we use it due to the district’s freeze on software programs installed on site. My students really seem to like to read books using this program, and since my main focus, besides raising the reading levels, is to get the students to enjoy reading I am a happy camper too.


  1. Sounds like a fun program. Are the stories interesting for the students? Some of the stories in the other computerized reading programs are not all that engaging. It is funny how reading on a computer is fun, but just reading out of a book is boring for kids.

  2. I applaud you on seeking out using a system that your students enjoy and using technology as a tool to teach reading. It is often challenging as there are far more "settlers" than there are "pioneers" out there in education using technology, as Chris Dede, in Six Challenges for Educational Technology, termed technology users.
    Dede wrote that "“pioneers”:(are) people who see continuous change and growth as an integral part of their profession and who are willing to swim against the tide of conventional operating procedures—often at considerable personal cost.
    I took this to mean that taking risks and chances, stepping out of the norm, like you did; and that settlers are "people who appreciate stability and do not want heroic efforts to become an everyday requirement" (Dede).
    I took this to mean the bulk of educators out here overwhelmed, overworked and stretched to the limits to do what they are doing and are hesitant to add something new.
    Dede says these educators "must be convinced to make the leap to a different mode of professional activity—with the understanding that, once they have mastered these new approaches, their daily work will be sustainable without extraordinary exertion."

    Keep the pioneering up!

  3. It is great that students who are struggling with reading are given the opportunity to use the lab every Wednesday to enhance their reading skills. However, it is a bit unfortunate that it only occurs once a week. Is there any way students can purchase this software for their home? It is good to know that this program allows students to work at their own pace and if they are stuck along the way, they can seek help utilizing the programs features. Besides this reading program are there any other programs students are able to use to further excel in reading and fluency/comprehension. I agree that it’s a great feature this software offers that lets the students see their progress as it will display the test scores on a graph after each chapter test. I have come to learn that if students like a program that helps them in a particular subject matter they are more eager to learn the subject, which is extremely important for student success. I am glad to hear that you are seeking outside resources besides what is offered in the curriculum to help your students with their reading skills. Using technology, as another tool is great, since most students love this type of interaction!