Whooo’s Reading: Effectively Using Tech to Improve the Reading and Writing Ability of Our Learners

Whooos Reading LogoNo matter what grade, I have always encountered students who were less than enthusiastic about reading. I have taught upper elementary and middle school, and at the beginning of each year there are students who bemoan requests to read.

“I am not good at reading.”

“I don’t want to read.”

“This is too long. Do I have to read the whole thing?”

“Why do we have to read this?”

For many students reading is a chore. The act of persevering long enough to connect with a text does not come naturally to all students. For some, we must find ways to not only engage students in the required reading, but also help them to develop reading skills that make reading more appealing.

At the same time, we are educators. We have to serve the academic needs of our students. My role must also include assessing each student’s ability to comprehend what they have read and facilitate growth in their mastery of reading. In this post, I will discuss a web-based reading program that offers ways to help our students grow as readers. I have chosen this resource for:

  1. The types of texts students access
  2. Curricular alignment
  3. Type of reading/response to reading that is required
  4. Availability of data to track student progress
  5. Potential engagement for learners
  6. Cost (FREE–because there are QUALITY free resources out there!)
  7. Student-paced (a key components of blended learning)

Whooo’s Reading

The Highlights

  • Students read the book of their choice, no required texts (I do recommend that students check the site to see if their chosen book is in the database–most are.)
  • Requires students respond to higher-level questions in writing (no multiple choice)
  • Questions are aligned to a variety of curricula, including the Common Core State Standards
  • Students complete “journal” entries based on the text they are reading and 3 question quizzes when the book is completed (both are self-grading)
  • Students receive immediate feedback and guidance on how to make their written responses stronger (positive reinforcement)
  • Students are able to earn “Wisdom Coins” they can spend on their avatar and in-game incentives lending a game-like atmosphere (gamified learning experience)
  • Teachers track student progress and identify needs to help drive classroom instruction
  • FREE

According to their website:

Accelerating reading comprehension and writing skills has never been easier… or more authentic.

Give feedback beyond pass or fail. Let our program remind your students, while they write, to do things like cite evidence and answer all parts of the question, so you don’t have to.

Know who’s actually reading.
See automatic quiz results for every book your students read, provided by our data-driven grading algorithm.

I like Whooo’s Reading for the potential to keep students reading and writing about what they read. Three higher-level questions are used to assess comprehension. The student develops writing skills in addition to reading skills. The feedback (delivered by a friendly owl avatar) guides students to improve their writing conventions, word choice, use of evidence to support their response, etc. Students make revisions, on the spot, before they submit their answers. The intervention is immediate and does not require teachers do the grading. It is done in response to the student’s writing, about the book they chose, requiring reflection on the response they wrote. They get the opportunity to improve that response before it is graded…all the things we want to offer students, but do not always have the time in confines of our class time. Best of all, students get positive reinforcement and get to share their thoughts on the books they read.

To gain a little more insight into what the program offers, I recommend you watch these tutorials from the company.

Whooo’s Reading is promising and certainly worth exploring. I plan to follow up with a future post, after I have to the opportunity to use it with more students. If you are using Whooo’s Reading or found this post informative, please comment below!

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Free (or Low Cost) Websites and Apps for PreK and Kindergarten

 

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Image credit: “Kids with Education Tablet Computers” by Intel Free Press https://flic.kr/p/fvT5PN

A coworker came to me with a specific request:

“Can you create a list of apps I can give parents for my preK and kindergarten students to use at home?”

While curating the list of resources below, I tried to gather resources compatible with Android devices, PCs, and Apple devices. Most are free, a few are under $2.00 to buy. It is by new means an exhaustive source, but does offer a good place to start if you would like to share educational resources with your preprimary and primary students.

Disclaimer: While most do not, some of the apps/links use in app purchases in order to be offered “FREE.” Before allowing your child/student to use a device like a computer, cell phone, or tablet, please remember to turn off in app purchases in your settings if possible, or set your settings so that a password is required to make in app purchases. I can not be held responsible for accidental purchases made by children when using any apps or websites listed below. 

Websites

iPhone/iPad apps

Sight words

Writing and/or Recognizing Letters

Phonemic awareness

General (Shapes, numbers, letters, etc.)

Android Apps for the Google Play Store

Sight Words

Writing and/or Recognizing Letters

Phonemic awareness

General (Shapes, numbers, letters, etc.)

Hopefully this list can be used as a resource for your younger students (or children)!