Friday, August 16, 2013

{Crew Review} Reading Kingdom

 

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Reading Kingdom ($19.99/ month for the first student.  See website for additional student pricing and year long subscriptions) is a supplemental reading program for ages 4-10 that we had the privilege of reviewing in the past.  It was a huge hit with Levi at the time, who was just beginning to learn to read, and was eager to unlock the mystery of the English language. It really helped Levi over some little hurdles in his reading adventure and I’m pretty sure helped give him a good foundation to become such a successful reader.

I was excited to try it again – this time with Levi and Luke – both considered “grade level” (or above) readers.

Using the best of phonics and whole language, Dr. Blank has created a patented computer program that is comprised of six components:

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Dr. Blank’s program is designed to help students (both those who are emerging readers and those who are experiencing challenges learning to read) become  successful readers and writers at a 3rd grade level.

When first logged on to Reading Kingdom, your child will take a skills survey/ assessment.  Skills like visual sequencing and memory and keyboarding skills (it isn’t necessary that your student 10-finger touch type, but they need familiarity with where the letters are on the keyboard)  are looked at first. If help is needed at this level, the survey stops and Reading Kingdom begins teaching your child these skills.  If no help is needed, the survey continues at a deeper level of reading and spelling/ writing to pick the exact spot where your child can experience success in learning a new skill.

For reading and spelling, there are five levels.  Each level has 6 books, and within these levels, the child is taught each and every word that is in the books:

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Words are taught intentionally in game settings within the program and at the end, the child ‘earns’ a book to read.  The nice thing about Reading Kingdom is that your child has already learned every word in each book, so there are no surprises and frustrations (this is  a great asset if you have a perfectionist child or one who has experienced a lot of frustration in reading up to this point).

As the parent/ teacher, you can sign up to receive weekly reports of your child’s progress.  The reports are similar to the reports you will see online, which look like this:

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Reading Kingdom provides a lot of information on reading and Dr. Blank’s research. I encourage you to search out some of the information at links such as: How Reading Kingdom is different, Why It Works (teacher page), How Reading Kingdom is Organized for Beginning and Struggling Readers (this is a 9 page PDF that is very interesting!), and a blog with tips, articles and information


 

 

How We Used This Program:  For this review I was able to use it with both Luke and Levi – at the top and middle of the age ranges for this product (ages 10 and 7, respectively).  Both boys’ most recent standardized testing scores for reading place them at or above grade level for reading comprehension, so I was curious to see how this program would work for them, and if it would benefit them at all.

Boy, was I surprised to see that even for ‘grade level readers', Reading Kingdom can provide the support needed to fill in gaps not evaluated in standardized testing.  Ultimately, the boys will have much better comprehension and success in reading. 

I was more than a little shocked when Luke had to start at the very first level of books!  This level has practice with words such as kid, girl, some, a, and more.  “Really?” I thought to myself, “Luke already knows this stuff.” 

I’ll admit that I was a little frustrated that I hadn’t sat in while Luke was taking the Reading and Writing Survey (he had to work through levels 3 and 4 of Letter Land before getting to the reading sections) so I would know what type of mistakes he was making.  You won’t be able to see a report with survey results, perhaps because  Reading Kingdom is a patented learning system.  Ultimately though, Luke did not answer with enough accuracy and speed to be considered a 3rd grade reader who is confident with this simple words.    

Even with my surprise, deep in my mama’s heart, I know that Luke needs as much ongoing help with reading fundamentals as possible.  He is not a good speller and processes auditory information a little slower than his brothers. His oral reading still evidences visual processing errors and phonogram mistakes (he confuses ‘wh’ and ‘th’ with sight words like ‘what’ and ‘that’). One of the ways that Reading Kingdom helps students is by having them spell words.  Gradually, Reading Kingdom takes away a model and has students practice letter sequencing and fill-in-the blanks. In general this is pretty hard for Luke.    Here is what the screen looks like when the student is supposed to figure out which model will spell “walk:”

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After choosing the correct model, the student had to fill in the missing letters only.  I can see that this would be hard for Luke.  But I am a mean mama, so he’ll still have to do it and I’m pretty sure Reading Kingdom will help him with his reading and spelling.

Levi, on the other hand, was much more willing to continue using Reading Kingdom.  Although he, too, felt that it was “slow”, once he was engaged with the software, he was fine.  As a matter of fact, during the middle of the review, Levi seemed to be having some trouble and was reticent to work on the program.  After watching over his shoulder for a session, I increased the response time (he’s trying to touch type even though I’ve told him that hunt-and-peck is fine) and his attitude and compliance has increased a hundred times over.  Once you sign up for your account, you can change the response time at the bottom of the “My Account” page:

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I think once Luke gets home from soccer camp and experiences the increase response time, he’ll be much more willing to continue with the program.

My recommendations & thoughts:  I continue to think that Reading Kingdom is hugely valuable to students who are beginning the reading process, and now that I’ve used it with readers, I can still see the value of working through the program.  Yes, Luke tests as a grade level reader for comprehension, but I am aware of multiple times when he misreads simple sight words or skips over them all together in his oral reading.  So, I think Reading Kingdom can provide an additional layer of assistance for him to really focus on the visual processing and sequencing of language. I want my kids to love reading and never tire of picking up a book to experience a far off world or read to learn something new.  I’m grateful that Reading Kingdom is giving additional support to my readers to help them become book lovers.

Be sure to sign up for a 30-day trial of Reading Kingdom!

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

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All prices are accurate as of blog posting. 


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