How it Works

Reading Plus is a guided, web-based, silent-reading supplement to traditional education. After being assessed for reading rate, comprehension, and vocabulary, kids read text through a Guided Window. The window continually adjusts the flow of words based on the child’s progress, at the same time providing content at a suitable level. As the child progresses, the content difficulty increases accordingly in more than 20 different sub-skills of reading. In fiction and nonfiction, and in a variety of subject areas, kids begin wherever they naturally are, and then catch up to their class level, progress with their class level, or, for kids who read above their class level, learn advanced concepts. Students can focus on main ideas in writing, how language is used, structures of sentences, authors’ points of view, reasoning, and other comprehensive reading skills—all at their individual paces.

Meanwhile, teachers can print out reports on an individual student or the whole group, and then create lesson plans based on what various students need.

“There are five stations of our Balanced Literacy Framework, and Reading Plus is a perfect complement,” says Dr. Robin Gillespie, principal at Southwest Middle School and Corral Drive Elementary. “Each teacher has these stations: a guided reading table, with particular materials selected to address a specific topic; an area where students practice reading aloud to someone else, which improves their fluency, or speed; ‘word work,’ which is decoding phonetics, chunking text, syllabication, and building vocabulary; a writing or independent center; and reading to yourself. Reading Plus is the tool we use for reading to oneself; it also provides important information for the whole Framework.”

For example, with the touch of a button, a teacher knows what comprehension questions children are not understanding. “This information can guide a mini-lesson that inspires the entire class, the reading table’s content, and any individual instruction for a given student,” Dr. Gillespie says. She was the principal responsible for trying Reading Plus as a pilot program at Wilson, and she worked with Dr. Arnio and the Rapid City school system to assist with its eventual implementation in all third- through twelfth-grade reading classrooms.

Dr. Erin Lehmann, principal at South Canyon Elementary School, also reports improvements on both individual and classwide levels. “Reading Plus helps train students’ eyes to read correctly, ensuring that kids are reading left to right, and top to bottom. Fluency and speed matter,” she says. “There’s also a comprehension piece that’s been very beneficial; the program helps kids to think deeply about the text.”

Both principals highlight the fact that Reading Plus, like any supplemental program, must be used in concert with traditional teaching methods. “Nothing replaces the importance of the teaching relationship,” Dr. Lehmann says. “The beauty of this program is that it is adaptive, providing constant, individualized support—including choice. A child can read about nature or space and focus on a variety of aspects of writing, all the while increasing his ability.”


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