Happy Saturday! It’s finally looking a little like spring here, and the end of the school year is coming up quickly! At the end of each year, I try to reflect on things that went well during the past year and things that didn’t go so well.
One challenge I dealt with this year was what to have my struggling readers do during their independent time. At my school, we don’t do literacy centers. Kids are supposed to be either responding to reading through writing, or reading independently. This year I had one second grader who started the year reading at a level C (a Kindergarten level) and another who started the year reading at a level F (a middle of the year first grade level). They often couldn’t write very much in response to texts. I tried to keep them supplied with lots of independent reading materials, but kids go through those lower leveled books so quickly. I was going to the local library, our school library, and raiding my own classroom library on a weekly basis, just to keep them supplied with new reading material. Despite my efforts, after about 15 minutes of independent reading, I would usually find them off-task, or reading a book that was way too hard for them. Of course I still wanted them to spend part of their independent time writing and reading, but those 2 activities just weren’t enough. And I wanted to make use of every minute I had with them – they were so behind that wasting time just wasn’t an option.
I struggled with this issue throughout the year. In December, I began using RAZ-Kids with them, but again, they went through the books quickly. Then, in March, K5 Learning, an online reading and math enrichment program for kids, emailed me. They offered me a free 6-week trial period of their online program in exchange for me writing a review. Sure, I thought. Why not? I looked at the program a little more closely and got to thinking that this might be just what my 2 struggling readers needed. I set them up with accounts. I hoped it was going to engage them, because sometimes they got a little bored with RAZ-Kids. We have two computers in our classroom, so I logged them both in one afternoon.
As they were working, I met with a guided reading group. We were talking about a text when suddenly I heard giggling. I looked up. One of my kiddos was smiling and laughing at her computer screen. This seemed like a good sign. After independent time was over, one of the girls came up to me and said, “That is SO fun!” Success!
They both thoroughly enjoyed using the program and became more engaged during independent time. I still had them spend time reading and writing of course, but K5 Learning was a great supplement. K5 Learning is more than just a fun program. It’s a super valuable tool for both teachers and parents. Here are some of the great features:
1. You can easily specify what you want your child / student to work on (this is the home screen that pops up when they log in).
2. From the parent / teacher dashboard, you can provide even MORE specific parameters about what you want your child to work on (certain spelling words, skills, etc).
3. You can look at really specific data about how the child is doing, how much time he/she actually spends on-task, etc.
This is a super comprehensive, easy to use online learning program. It’s great for classroom teachers who want to differentiate instruction, homeschooling parents, or any parent who wants their child to give their child a fun way to practice math and reading. Click on the image below to check it out!
I am still in the process of giving my two little girls their end-of-the-year reading assessments. Right now it looks like they will both be just 1 or 2 Fountas and Pinnell levels below where they should be. Given where we were at the beginning of the year, I will consider this a relative success.