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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Read Live Program from Read Naturally Review


Read Naturally is a company that helps students become better readers.  Their programs focus on "five essential components of reading, identified by the National Reading Panel: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension."  They do this through "structured intervention programs (which) combine teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring — three strategies that research has shown are effective in improving students' reading proficiency."


The program which we received to review is called Read Live, and this is how it works.  First, it's a web-based program, so I went to the login, and entered my account information.  Because this is also used by entire schools, the process for first setting up your child is a little cumbersome, but detailed instructions were provided, and I managed to get it right the first time.  If you know me, and my track record with technology, that should tell you it's not too hard!  Next, your child takes an assessment of their reading (you chose the initial level for the assessment, and then go up or down from there depending on how they do- knowing my daughter's reading struggles well, I guessed her level right off and the assessment confirmed that).  Then, after you have chosen the right reading level, your child begins the program.

When you child logs in, they are greeted with 12 stories that they can select from.  They chose the one that they would like to work on and click on it.  Before they are introduced to the story, they are given some vocabulary words and definitions that are read aloud for them, and which they are expected to read along with.  After that, they are asked to write a prediction of what the story will be about based on the topic of the story, and the vocabulary words they were given.  Next, the teacher/mom conducts a "cold timing" where the student reads the story aloud.  Errors are clicked on by the teacher (or the student if they need assistance with a word), and the words per minute score is recorded.   After that, the story is fluently and expressively read for the student a minimum of 3 times (although the teacher can change some of the programs presets), and the student is meant to read along with the story aloud.  Then, the student does a practice read aloud without the readers voice reading with them.  Once they complete the practice, they take a quiz designed to test their comprehension of what they have read.  The quiz include a retelling of the story in their own words.  Finally, the student does a "hot timing" again supervised by the teacher in which they seek to improve the words per minute score.  The teacher also awards a score for expression.  Following the hot timing, the teacher checks the retelling of the story, and can chose to have the student re-do any of the quiz questions they may have missed, and then, assuming they have met the words per minute goal, the student passes that story and chooses another story the next time.

The pros:  I have my 12 year old daughter using this program.  She has always enjoyed audio books, but has never been a strong reader.  In fact, based on words per minute, she tested in the 4th grade level on her assessment.  Her reading goal is 100 words per minute.  Her first cold timing score was 83 wpm.  Her hot timing for that story was 132 wpm.  That's quite an improvement!  And I'm watching her do a little better each time.  Three times now, her cold timing score has exceeded her 100 wpm goal...and her hot timing score the last two times has been in the 150-160 range.  Yes, 160!  That's almost twice her original cold timing!  She is learning to read more quickly, but most importantly, she is becoming a more expressive reader.  Other things I really like about the program, besides the success we have personally experienced, is that when the student hits the a point where they need the teacher, the program gives them fun vocabulary quizzes to work on while they wait.  And I love the reports that are available for the teacher to let them see exactly how the student is doing.  Oh, and the stories.  I love that, at least on my daughter's level, they are science based, and focus on different types of animals.  So it's like reading and science rolled into one.

The cons:  Let me start with a few petty ones.  First, there is a bar that highlights the reading line for the student.  It can be turned off, but my daughter likes to use it.  However, to move it down as you read, you must use the mouse, and the bar does not extend very far to the left or right of the text, so the mouse cursor tends to block the text on the edge as you try to move the bar down.  Second, my daughter doesn't love the person who does the reading, but that's probably a personal thing.  Third, when you do the cold timing, the program pronounces any word that you click on so that it can offer prompts to the student if they are stuck on a word.  But you also are meant to click on words they miss, and my daughter found it distracting that each word she missed the voice then felt it necessary to read for her.  That slowed my daughter down.  So we solved that by having her remove the headphones when she does the cold timing, so she doesn't hear the voice.  The only have two major cons.  The first would be the price of the program.  I'm sure $149 a child for 12 months is not cost prohibitive for a school, but for homeschoolers, that's a lot of money!  Schools get volume discounts that can actually drop the price per student to $15.38 each, but homeschoolers don't really have that option, because most families wouldn't ever even need the 6 student "seats" required for the first discount level.  The second would be that my daughter becomes obsessed with reading quickly to increases her words per minute-sometimes to the point of sacrificing her expression and fluency.  I have to actually tell her to slow down and read well, not just read fast. 

The bottom line:  So far, I'm very impressed with Read Live.  And I intend to have my daughter use it every day until our subscription expires.  Then I will have a tough decision to make.  I wish- I really, truly wish- that there was homeschool pricing that made Read Live a more cost effective option.  If it was $49 instead of $149, I know I'd continue it.  But for now, I'll have to see what the next few weeks bring.  For you, my readers, though, there is an opportunity to perhaps try Read Live for free for 60 days.  If you go HERE, and you have a "recognized homeschool", you can try it out.  I'd encourage you to do just that if you have a struggling reader in your home.  You won't regret it!

To learn more about Read Naturally and the other programs they have to offer, go HERE.  To see what the other members of the TOS Crew had to say about Read Live or about One Minute Readers, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free membership for Read Live until the end of the year.  That membership was for the purpose of providing this review and was the only compensation I received.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Oneblessedmamma,

I noticed your review of Read Live yesterday. Congratulations on your blog, informative review of Read Live and your daughter’s success with Read Live.

You did a good job of reviewing Read Live and as a Read Naturally insider I have a couple of points to add to your review to help your readers better understand Read Live.

For the read along step, it is important for your readers to understand that it is a critical phase of the strategy because this is the step where a student builds word recognition and accuracy while sub vocalizing as they hear the words read.

During the repeated reading phase of the strategy, students do one minute practice reads. If a student is placed correctly, they are likely to need three to six one minute practice reads before they will feel confident that they can reach their goal rate during the final pass step. It is during the repeated reading phase (one minute practice timings) where students develop mastery of the passage.

The final pass timing can also be viewed as an accountability step. The student must meet the four criteria to pass (reach goal rate, three or few errors, read with good expression and answer all the questions correctly) before they are passed and can go on to a new passage.

Concerning placement and setting and adjusting goals, students are usually placed above their instructional level because of the audio support (read along step). In the case of your daughter with a first cold timing score of 83 words correct per minute (WCPM) she could be at a higher level since the placement range for Level 3.5 to 5.0 materials is 60-80 WCPM. Also, usually you set the goal at least 30 WCPM above the placement cold timing. For example, if her original placement cold timing in Level 5.0 was 75 WCPM than her first goal would be 105 WCPM in Level 5.0.

Since student can be placed above their instructional level because of the audio support during the read along step, then the Read Naturally strategy can accelerate their reading achievement by exposing them to more difficult text.

Concerning your daughter being distracted during the cold timing step by hearing the word pronounced when she clicked on a word she could not read, your solution was apparently good for your daughter. Another option for your daughter is to turn off the sound. For many students hearing words pronounced that they cannot read provides valuable feedback as they establish a baseline cold time score and begin the process of achieving the four criteria to pass and be able to master the passage.

I understand your concerns about the price for a parent who is homeschooling their child. We have worked very hard to keep the price down and when you think of the value the program provides for $149.00 for a year, I think you will find Read Live very cost effective.

Thank you for your informative review of Read Live. If you have any questions or if I can help you, feel free to contact me.

Tom Ihnot
Read Naturally
1-800-788-4085 x 8721