Apps to Help Struggling Readers of All Ages

More and more I am called on to provide support to students in my elementary school who are struggling in reading.  Many times, of course, these students are already on my caseload for articulation and/or language needs.  Two new apps from Smarty Ears have been very helpful in working literacy skills into my therapy plans.

One is the READING REHABILITATION TOOLKIT.  This app uses attractive colored photographs in 6 different levels of literacy training:  selecting one of four images that matching the printed word;  matching one of 5 words that identifies an image;  selecting one of five images that matches a short phrase;  matching one of 5 phrases that identifies an image;  reading a question, then selecting the correct answer from a choice of 5;  and moving three words or phrases into the correct order to create a larger phrase which describes the photo.  On each of the six levels, the user has the opportunity to read the word or phrase aloud and record it, to reinforce the auditory with the text. The therapist can then easily score if the user was unable to read the word/phrase independently, read it with assistance, or read it independently.    This “record” feature is not only useful for the intended reading purpose, but allows you to play back the production to help students in self-rating their articulation. At the end of the session, the app will then generate a report of the student’s performance for that day’s practice, which can be emailed or stored in Smarty Ears’ Therapy Report Center, a free additional app that allows you to store your students’ profile info in one place, then easily export to a number of other Smarty Ears apps, eliminating the need to enter student info again and again.  Given that time in therapy is short and must be used very wisely to maximize skill rehearsal, I really like the straightforward presentation of this app.  No cutesy music, no distracting reinforcers — which also makes this app very appropriate for older students and adults (the original intended audience) who struggle with reading.

The other reading app from Smarty Ears that I just started using with my 2nd-5th grade students in Learning Support is READING COMPREHENSION CAMP. With 50 stories on five reading and comprehension levels, this app will provide your students from 2nd to 7th grade with lots of practice in reading short stories and answering comprehension questions.  There are lots of teacher-controlled options which allows for customized lessons.  For instance, the teacher can choose what kinds of comprehension questions will be asked in the quiz after each story:  who, what, where, when, why, how, inferences, cause/effect, compare/contrast, sequencing, and vocabulary/context clues.  Data is collected on student performance in each of the selected areas, reflected in a graph that can be emailed, stored in the Therapy Report Center (see above) or printed.  The student or teacher can record the story for playback, a nice feature for students who would benefit from simultaneously hearing and reading the story, and also a useful tool for the teacher to assess reading fluency.  The teacher can control the font and image sizes, a useful option for students who have visual impairments.

After the student reads the story, he or she will take the quiz.  Students can listen to or read the quiz question, then select the answer from a choice of four.  If the student needs a hint, the pertinent text will be highlighted in the story.  If the teacher wants the student to rely solely on memory, the text of the story can be hidden.  The student can self-check the answer, which is then recorded in the app.  More than one student can use the app at one time, making this ideal for small group sessions;  the app will keep score for each student’s answers.

Although this app is intended to work on reading comprehension, I also find it very useful for auditory comprehension and memory.  Rather than have the students read the story, I read it to them, then use the quiz to measure their ability to understand and retain auditory information.  Don’t you just love an app that you can use in more than one way to multiple student needs?  I do!


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