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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Scholastic iRead!



I had a training this week as I am lucky enough to have been selected to help pilot Scholastic's iRead program! We are the first district in the state to launch the program, and one of a few in the nation! How exciting!!! Scholastic iRead is a breakthrough digital program designed to ensure mastery of all foundational reading skills of the Common Core that launched just last year in a few school districts on the East coast.

It is Scholastic's K-2 program, somewhat similar to their Read 180 and System 44 programs.  It is a digital reading program for everybody to use, with personalized learning paths that students can either fast-track through or repeat if needed, covering 5 main principles of early reading. It provides a ton of data for teachers, which the program combines with online resources and activities in one place-woohoo!  I'm SUPER jazzed up about it and can't wait to see what impact it has for my students this year.

I'm most intrigued by the auditory/visual piece.  Independent learning with correct audio and visuals to boot--yes please! The gaming theory behind it is amazing-everything from the activities themselves to the graphics easily draw you in and I think will be a huge motivator for my students! I am also really intrigued by the family component-it has lots of ways that students and their families can be actively learning at home.

Truthfully I'm a little nervous about the time commitment of learning a whole new program, as I think as teachers we always have a lot on our plates.  And I know that they will be watching my data closely--which I think is a little unnerving for any teacher!  But I have faith in my teaching foundation and I feel like this program will be an added benefit to all of my students-even if it means more work for me.  They do provide a lot of teacher support, with the trainer coming to visit my in my classroom at least 8 times this upcoming year.  That makes me feel comforted that if I am unsure of anything I can get support and feedback quickly.

My favorite part of the training is when the instructor mentioned how they are striving to take the best of technology and the best of teaching and blend them together.  Exactly what we believe here at thetechieteachers and what I strive to do every day in my classroom! Make sure to follow us to hear the latest about the program and how it is working in my classroom! If you use a Scholastic program in your school we'd love to hear any feedback or tips about it all!

21 comments:

  1. But how much does it cost per teacher?

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  2. Sorry screstview for not responding sooner! I do not actually know the cost of iRead as our district didn't share that information with me! It isn't set up like ABCMouse or Starfall where you can purchase individual subscriptions (at least that I know of!), I believe it has to be purchased on a larger scale. But if you send me an email to normoff13@gmail.com with your contact information I can forward it on to the iRead rep that we work with.

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  3. Now that you've had several months with the program, what do you think? It looks great, but I wanted a review from someone who has used it in their classroom.

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    1. Stephanie~
      Thanks for your comment! I think that there are many good aspects to iRead and a few things that still need to get figured out. That said, they are still in the roll out stages as far as I know, so that is par for the course I guess. A few main thoughts of mine:
      What I like--The differentiated level of work (students go at their own pace), the academics tied in with gaming theory, the data feedback, but probably the best thing is that the students LOVE it! We have been doing it everyday and I have not once heard a student complain. Which is kinda a big deal in Kindergarten;)
      What I wish was different: The speed at which the students advance through the program. All K students start at the same place and proceed to review all of the concepts. In theory this is to catch any 'holes' that may be in their reading ability. This starts at letter name/sounds and goes from there. For my highest students this is redundant. I have a student reading at a 3rd grade level, she does not need to spend any time on letter sounds. But the way the program is designed she has to go through them all. While they can 'fast-track' in my opinion it isn't fast enough. Also I find that some of their data does not match what I see in my other weekly assessments, and their recommendations for when students get 'deferred' on a topic aren't anything life changing in my teaching.

      There are also a few other pieces that I would change (ie teacher access & some of their lessons, fine tuning some ?s within the game, ease of use for K students) but I hold things to a really high standard and lets be honest-nothing out there will probably ever be a perfect solution.

      I feel iRead would make a great intervention based reading program, especially for your EL and SPED students. Really any student who could benefit from hearing/seeing/saying/repeat practice of basic skills would benefit from this program. I don't feel it does well to extend the learning of my high flyers. Do I like having iRead in my classroom-you bet! Would I pay out of pocket for it--not sure how much it costs?! Would I recommend it to others--yes but with further explanation about my concerns. Do my students love iRead--without a doubt. But in my book, technology or not, nothing can help student achievement more than some good old fashioned learning time with teachers & families:)

      Hope that helped! Let me know if you have something specific you are wondering about or if I can elaborate further for you! If you decide to try it out let me know or if you've heard any other feedback-I haven't connected much with other teachers using iRead out there.
      And as always thanks for stopping by our blog!
      Sara

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  4. Hello, Sara. My name is Laura and I teach English language and composition to college students in Puerto Rico. Reading comprehension is one of the biggest challenges in my classroom, so I'm constantly trying different techniques and tools to see what works best. Would you recommend System 44 or Read 180 for basic level ESL college students?

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  5. Hi LiM,
    I have had experience with Read180. I used it with high school ESL students. I have not worked as close with system 44 but do know that our elementary teachers are using it. I am guessing that the content of Read180 would be closer to the interest level of your college students. However, the books are chapter books and maybe a bit advanced for people who are at a basic level.
    Angie

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  6. my kids hated iRead last year and I had a hard time too..... Of course I had NO training and had no idea what they were doing. I went to the training today and thought hmmmm this would have been helpful! So it is another year I have 5 computers instead of 2 (helpful) simulator (helpful) teaching guide (helpful). My question is how you manage time and when to put students on. I have a hard time not wanting them to be on iread during math and group times, but found it difficult to rotate 24 kids through 5 computers everyday and keep track of them. I feel like my kids will do much better this year because I have a little more idea what to do with it. I am looking for tips and strategies to help my students succeed at iRead.

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  7. Jenny-
    Thanks for your comment & for stopping by our blog! I am sorry to hear that you had such a yucky start with iRead:( I can't believe that they didn't provide you with enough computers and training! No wonder you hated it!!
    As far as managing time: in my classroom I had 23 kids and 5 computers. My students only accessed iRead during our reading block. During my reading block I have 5 small groups that rotate through 5 different 15 minute 'stations'. One of my stations was iRead.
    To help my K students be independent I spent time teaching them how to log in and off of iRead. I created small log in cards with their username & password info on them. Each student in each group was assigned one of the 5 computers. I left their log in cards at their assigned computers. Many of my students memorized their info quickly, and if the system was working correctly they'd get almost the full 15 minutes actively on iRead. Some of my students struggled with logging in, so often an adult would have to help them or they would get less time on iRead as they were still spending a little longer logging in.
    I never allowed my students to access iRead during other work times for 2 main reasons. First, for the longest time if my students would log in again during the day it would erase what they had already completed that day. So they'd essentially just repeat their work. Not that helpful in my opinion. Second, while I found iRead to be a helpful tool for some of my students I really viewed it as just that-a tool. So I didn't pull students from group time as I still feel time with a teacher outweighs any tool, technology included.
    So as far as managing time I think it really depends on your literacy block schedule. If you want more info on how I incorporated iRead, Daily 5, and Guided Reading into my schedule let me know!
    As far as tips and strategies, I recommend using the log in cards. Do you have a SmartBoard in your room? I would recommend projecting some of the activities as a whole group so that everyone can see what is expected of them. Also, try to create a fake student profile and log in to see what the students are experiencing. This helped me tremendously when students had questions about what to do during the activities. Are you planning on using the iRead groupinator and lessons? If so, let me know and I will share more tips to go along with that!
    That's a lot for now-hope it helps!! I think I'll write a post soon about my iRead reflections since there seems to be a lot I have to say about it:) Thanks again for stopping by our blog!!!
    -Sara

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    1. It did help a lot!!! I want to say Thank you! I loved iRead last year! now I have been moved to second grade.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x06D6S5QY_k

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    2. Sara, Is it still a problem if students sign on twice in one day?

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  8. H Sara! My school is about to start iRead. Thank you for sharing your experiences. When do you expect to post your next update?

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  9. Hi Cathy! Thanks for stopping by our blog & for your comment. In regards to posting more about iRead-I'm not planning on it. My district decided not to purchase iRead after a few of us piloted it last year. I am however happy to share my thoughts! Do you have anything specifically you were wondering about?

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  10. Hello again. Oh well! If you're at all willing to briefly tell about using iRead with Guided Reading and for whole-class lessons, that would be great. I totally understand if you're over it by now, though! :)

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  11. Cathy-
    Thanks for your follow up question! I'm happy to share more about how I used iRead. As far as whole group, I didn't use it at all. I didn't find the lessons to be cohesive enough with our standards & district guidelines for my students. For guided reading I really used it as an independent work station. Our district uses Tyner and Fountas & Pinnell for guided reading and I find both resources to be more on mark & comprehensive than what I thought iRead could provide (but that could also be because that's what I've studied & used for a few years so I know it works). So unfortunately I don't have much light to shed on it as my use of iRead was minimal in comparison to what they'd recommend. I had my reasons, to which I stand by still, but that's not to say that it can't/won't work well for whole group & guided reading lessons. I just didn't have the time to incorporate it at the level I needed for my teaching. Let me know if I can help in any other way!

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    1. That's very helpful...thanks so much! Happy holidays!

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