Thursday, May 2, 2013

LiteracySoft app {Schoolhouse Review}

I believe reading is the most important academic skill a child can learn, so I am always looking at ways to supplement our reading instruction.  I recently had the opportunity to review LiteracySoft, which creates reading programs that can be used by all types of students:  adult learners, homeschoolers, dyslexic readers, and ESOL students.

From the website:
LiteracySoft is dedicated to delivering high quality low cost reading programs for the purpose of improving literacy for all age groups.  Our flag ship product Phonics and Reading With McGuffey is suitable for both young and old students.

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was given the opportunity to try out their Phonics and Reading with McGuffey app ($19.99) but there are also PC and Mac versions available.

This program uses the McGuffey readers and turns them into 52 fun reading lessons for a new generation.  Elliott (6) has been using another reading program with success, but the daily lessons are time consuming, and with an infant who is demanding of my time and attention, we were often being distracted by her.  As homeschoolers, we have the flexibility to try something new, and the thought of being able to hold the baby and still do reading lessons while we were all cuddled up on the couch really appealed to me.

The Lessons

We started at the beginning, even though Elliott is an emergent reader. I think it moves too quickly for beginners with no experience, but for us it was a thorough review.  Since it moves quickly children are reading real words and sentences almost immediately, so it wasn't "boring" for him to start fresh.

You can see at a glance what will be covered during each lesson.

New sounds, blends and words are introduced at the beginning of the lesson, with opportunities to practice and review other sounds as well.  The Phonics Blender allows the student to use all the letters/sounds learned up to that point to practice real or nonsense words.

I love the Lesson Illustration, because I have Elliott narrate what he thinks is happening, then we move into Reading Practice where he gets to see if he was right!

The Spelling Practice allows the student to spell the words from memory (which I like), and the Sight Word Drilling presents three choices and speaks the word so that the student can choose the correct word.

At any point, if the student needs help, they can touch certain areas of the screen for assistance.

My Thoughts

Each lesson is basically the same, with the same activities and games - which could be a pro or con.  You can repeat the same activities as many times as you wish, but students who need variety or alternate explanations to master a concept may struggle.

However, students that thrive on structure, repetitive activities and predictability, particularly those that pick up on reading quickly, will probably like the simplicity of this program.

While it presents many important topics, it doesn't always explain them.  It might explain that when words like Ann have double consonants you only pronounce one n, or that vowels can have short or long sounds, but it doesn't discuss the difference between a consonant and a vowel.  I also noticed that varied punctuation like commas, apostrophes and question marks appear without any explanation as to what they mean.  We haven't covered possessive nouns so I had to do a quick explanation.  It definitely requires adult interaction for beginners.

The app itself is easy to navigate and use independently, but I do believe parents should be involved in the process of learning to read, so I don't really suggest you send your beginning reader off with this program and expect them to master it alone.

The program is multi-sensory, and I think it will work for many different learning styles, as well as compliment many other reading programs.  You can add up to 10 users, which makes it ideal for families with readers on different levels, or tutors who want to utilize it with several students.

I think this program makes an excellent supplement.  We are enjoying the app, and I like that I have a portable reading program for when we are traveling.  I think it provides a nice change of pace from a traditional reading curriculum.  Plus, what child doesn't love playing on the iPad?

You can try the first TEN lessons for free and check out the Crew's other LiteracySoft reviews to get a better idea as to how this reading app might fit your family!

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1 comment:

  1. I think any kid would like to use apps for school. I know my kids do.