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Monday, October 11, 2010

Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers, Inc. Review

Developing good keyboarding skills has never been so important as it is now. There is no doubt that our children will do most of their "written" communication on a keyboard. So what if you could start them out learning keyboarding skills from the very beginning? What if they could learn to type as they learned to read so that letter sounds and finger strikes were synonymous? Well they can, with Read, Write & Type.

Read, Write & Type is designed for students in grades K-3 and is different from traditional reading, writing, or typing programs in so many ways. First, it was developed by a neuropsychologist and is specifically geared toward how the young brain learns. Because of that, it has multiple "safety nets" to ensure success to students at any ability level. Second, it is based on the idea of developing "motor memory" to allow students to use all their senses to learn phonics and at the same time immediately connect those phonetic sounds with a letter and a finger stroke on the keyboard. So students learn to sound out, read, and type any word they can say. Children get instant feedback to correct their errors, and parents can view and print detailed reports to see what areas children excel in, and what areas they might need more work in. The program will not let them advance without being ready for the next step, and has built in review "stations" where students practice skills until they are ready to progress. Read, Write & Type can even be used by students for whom English is a second language, and it currently features built-in help and instructions in Spanish, Arabic, and Bahasa-Melayu, with more languages to come soon.

The Pros: I cannot tell you how much my kids LOVE this program. They fight over who gets to use the computer first. In fact, TJ has finished all the lessons already. Granted, he (9) and Mimi (10) both knew how to read when they started it, but the tying together of letter sounds with letter placement on the keyboard has been invaluable. I can actually watch my son type without him looking at the keyboard at all. It's amazing. If every product made learning so much fun, I would never have to struggle to get my kids to do ANY schoolwork. My youngest, who is 5, enjoys it too, and I can tell it has helped to reinforce letter sounds. I see the results in our reading lessons. I've also seen her just be more comfortable with using the computer keyboard.

The cons: My biggest con is that, while there are tons of charts/reports to show your children's progress, if you are one of those parents who likes to fully know what your child is doing/learning, there's no way YOU can "play" Read, Write & Type yourself. If you play as your child, you will advance them along further than they have actually mastered, and while you can go in in and review what they've already worked on, that does not allow you to preview what they will be doing next. I can say I've spent enough time checking out the program either over their shoulder or going in and reviewing things that there is nothing I've found that's even remotely objectionable so I am comfortable just letting them do their thing. But if my youngest gets stuck, I don't necessarily know the ins and outs of the program as well as I would like to be able to help her out. The other con is really more a bit of advice- if you have younger kids, you need to be sure you or their older siblings don't help them along too much, or the program will think THEY have mastery over a sound that they really don't know that well. It happened to my youngest with the "i" sound. Her well meaning siblings "helped her" through some exercises, and now she's at a review level that she is not ready for. I have just figured out how to go back to let her redo certain exercises to practice the "i" sound, but that is where that "being able to play as an adult" would have made things easier because it took a little digging on my part to find it, and I had to be very careful that in doing that, I didn't progress her even further in the game.

The bottom line? We love Read, Write & Type. I can honestly say that I think this is the most excited about a review product my kids have ever been. In fact, my son is being for Wordy Querty- the next level of Read, Write & Type- since he has completed this program (although he can still go in and review, and the program even highlights sounds he could still use practice in). I don't think I'd use it as my sole source of reading instruction for beginner readers since it's really a program your students do on their own (or with you at their side) and not something you actually teach them, but it is wonderful reinforcement for phonics, it offers the most unique typing instruction I've seen (relating the letters to their sounds), and it also encourages them to write silly stories using the RWT keyboard "storytellers" (aka letters) and lets them read "e-mails" from kids around the world- another feature my kids just loved. I would wholeheartedly recommend Read, Write & Type to anyone with students in K-3 grades who need reading reinforcement and/or need to learn keyboarding skills.

While Read, Write & Type has been around for quite a while in CD form, Read, Write & Type Online premiered in 2009. It was the online version that members of the Crew received to review. Read, Write & Type Online pricing varies depending on the number of users, but it starts at $35 for one student. The boxed CD is $79, but may be the better value if you have more than 2 students who would use this product.

Talking Fingers, Inc. also has a companion product for Read, Write & Type called Wordy Querty. Wordy Querty is for students in grades 2-4 and focuses on spelling rules and frequently repeated patterns in words. More information about both products and a FREE demo of the first several lessons can be found at Talking Fingers, Inc.

Go HERE to see what the other members of the TOS Crew had to say about their experiences with Read, Write & Type.
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1 comment:

The Unsell Family said...

We needed to go back and redo some levels too but I could never figure out how to do so. Oh well- I think our time with them is done as I tried logging in again this morning and it wouldn't let me.

Good Review.