Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Total Reader Program Review

Are you familiar with Lexile numbers for reading levels? When I was a teacher years ago, books were labeled according to grade level and that is how we matched the correct book for a student's reading ability. There wasn't really a way to tell whether that book was going to be a good independent reader or something more appropriate on an instructional level. It seems this theory has evolved into an analysis with a little more accuracy.

Having a son with Dyslexia has made me really focus a lot on reading for the past three years. I am always wondering if all our hard work has paid off and whether or not he is reading on grade level. I also question whether the books he chooses to read independently are really at an independent level or not. This got me doing a search for the old reading level tests. You know the ones where you sit and count up all the words in a certain paragraph and how many sentences there are. Then you eventually come up with a number that you compare to a chart and it tells you approximately what grade level the book is at from that one little paragraph. Not real accurate! I also still don't know whether my son can read at that level or not. So during my search, I came across information about the Lexile number. To explain it best, here is an explanation from the Lexile site: "The idea behind The Lexile Framework for Reading is simple: if we know how well a student can read and how hard a specific book is to comprehend, we can predict how well that student will likely understand the book. When used together, Lexile measures help a reader find books and articles at an appropriate level of difficulty, and determine how well that reader will likely comprehend a text. You also can use Lexile measures to monitor a reader's growth in reading ability over time." Of course after reading this, I wanted to know what my son's Lexile score was and find books in that range for him to read. That lead me to finding a site called Total Reader. This site helps students in the following three areas:

Meeting Student Needs - Total Reader provides students with an individualized tool for practicing reading, measuring improvement and alerting them to the need for possible intervention

Monitoring and Assessing Student Reading Levels - Total Reader provides teachers with reports that are accessible from any computer, so they can not only assess and monitor students, but suggest text and plan curriculum based on reading levels.

Accountability - Total Reader enables educators to assess curriculum and demonstrate accountability to both state and federal mandates and tests.

The student is first given a diagnostic test to get an initial Lexile score. Then the system will adjust the reading passages to that range for the student to read. They are based on the Cloze Procedure where a word is periodically left out and the student must choose from four possible answer choices for the one that makes sense in the context. Each test is recorded and given a Lexile score. Because your child is reading passages in the correct range, his comprehension will increase and his score will actually get better the more he practices. You as the parent can go in and look at different reports and print results.

There are several things I like about this program:
1. I now know my child's Lexile score and can find appropriate materials at both the independent
and instructional level.
2. My son can continue to increase his reading level by reading passages that are interesting to
him. There are tons of different stories for the students to choose from.
3. I have diagnostic information that can be printed and put into a portfolio to show his progress
each year.

The cost was fairly reasonable for this program. It was $39.95 for a whole year per student. This price says it's a special offer so I don't know how long it will last. It is regularly $49.95. Being able to correctly select books for my son and knowing what level he is reading on was worth it enough for me. The fact that he can continue to increase his reading comprehension was an added bonus.

Perhaps you already know your child's score. If you do, you can go HERE to find books within that range.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Great family movie!

Looking for a good movie the whole family will enjoy? We recently got to review The Way Home. We loved it! My 10 year old son even commented on how much he liked it. This movie is about a family where the father is a workaholic. They are finally going to take a much needed vacation when their two year old son disappears. The parent's faith is tested and they are shown God's love as the entire town joins together to search for the missing boy.

Definitely keep a box of Kleenex nearby because you will find yourself tearing up several times throughout the movie. There are lots of great lessons to be learned in this movie and it is definitely one we will watch again.

This is labeled as a Christian movie; however, it should be noted that the phrase "dang it" and the word "H---" were each used once. One of the characters also smokes a cigar.

I received this DVD free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Friday, October 1, 2010

SpellQuizzer only $11.95!

SpellQuizzer is a great little program I reviewed a while back. We still use it in our homeschool. I can create my own spelling lists with as many words as I want and then record my voice reading a sentence to go along with them. But the possibilities don't end there. You could easily use this program to put in a definition and the student types the vocabulary word. Make up a history question and he types in the answer. Because it is your voice doing the recordings, your child will enjoy it even more. I received an email from SpellQuizzer about an upcoming sale and I wanted to share it with everyone in case it is something you would be interested in. Here is the email:

This is Dan Hite from TedCo Software - the creator of SpellQuizzer. I'm sending you this email because you are a registered user of my software, SpellQuizzer, and I wanted to let you know that I'm having a special 24-hour sale for SpellQuizzer in my Daily Deals store on Thursday, October 7. On that day I'm offering SpellQuizzer at 60% off - just $11.95.

This is an excellent opportunity to get an additional SpellQuizzer license if you need a license for an additional computer. Also, if you have any friends or family members who would like to own SpellQuizzer, this is their chance to get the software at 60% off. Just send them to the following web page (the sale begins on October 7 at midnight Eastern Standard Time):


If the above URL wraps in your email or does not work when you click it then you can also use http://tinyurl.com/38echgr.

I offer deeply-discounted sales every day on my Daily Deals site (www.TedCoSoftware.com/DailyDeals.htm) so please check out the site regularly if you are a bargain-hunter.

Dan Hite
TedCo Software