Headsprout Takes Early Reading Instruction Online
by Diane S. Kendall
The header on this column says Software Reviews for Teachers ,but thanks to broadband you should know that some of the best software for teachers and kids is now being delivered online. And do you want to know the best part of that is? It means that everybody is always using the latest version of the software - a very neat feat. (Are you listening, Microsoft?)
Such is the case with a new online early reading program from a company called Headsprout that provides four-to-six year old students with the equivalent of a personal reading tutor that they can use at home or at school. Headsprout Early Reading offers a unique adaptive experience for each learner with its patented Generative Learning Technology that immediately adjusts to the child's reading strengths and weaknesses. As the child proceeds through the lessons, the technology continues to adapt to their performance, teaching the material in alternative ways if a child is having difficulty. The colorful, musical, and animated lessons average 20 minutes and are available from any Internet-connected computer (that means Mac or PC) with no special training required for parents or teachers. There are 80 online lessons that start at square one in the reading game assuming no alphabet awareness or computer literacy and work all the way up to reading very simple stories. With this kind of step-by-step approach, children can generally complete the lessons with little or no assistance.
While there is nothing earth shatteringly new in the approach this software takes - it looks and plays much like any of the early reading software out on the home and school market - it has been given some significant votes of confidence. The embattled and bankrupt Philadelphia School District, where the program was successfully piloted in 10 of the elementary schools in the 2002-2003 school year, has approved 130 schools to purchase the new programs despite cuts across the board. The program also comes with a money-back guarantee that Kindergartners and 1st Graders will be reading at grade level after completing the 80 lessons according to the program guidelines.
If you'd like to evaluate this program for yourself, you can go to http://www.headsprout.com and look over the first three lessons or enroll as many of your students in the first 12 lessons for free to try it out. Great uses for this program that immediately come to mind are using it with kids who are frequently absent or who need a little more time working on reading basics. Kids who are ready to jump ahead will also find this a satisfying way to go because the adaptive nature of the program will let them move along at their own pace.
For more information on pricing and academic discounts see http://www.headsprout.com or call 800- 401-5602 ext. 3
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