Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TOS Review: Reading Kingdom

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Reading Kingdom, created by Dr. Marion Blank, Director of the Light on Learning Program at Columbia University and one of the world's top experts in reading, is an on-line program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level.  It is ideal for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, special education, homeschool, and English as a second language.
 
 Reading Kingdom is based on six skills method for reading success.  These skills include sequencing, motor skills, phonics (phonemic awareness), meaning, grammar and reading comprehension.

6 Skills

Before getting started with Reading Kingdom, you will need:
  • A computer and internet connection.  
  • To sign up for a 30-day FREE trial.   

 In order to receive the free trial, you will have to give Reading Kingdom your credit card information.  Your credit card will not be charged for 30 days. You can cancel at any time. If you cancel before the end of 30 days, you will NOT be charged. 

If you do decide that you would like to continue with Reading Kingdom, it costs $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year.  

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*Izzie, 5 years old, is a beginning reader, who can read CVC words, blend words, and approximately 100 sight words.*

Prior to teaching your child to read, Reading Kingdom evaluates each child with a Skills Survey.  Based on the results, the program places each child at the point that is just right for his or her reading skill level.  As children move through the Reading Kingdom program, the path they take will be customized to their particular reading needs based on their previous interactions. Because of this, each child's experience in the Reading Kingdom is unique.  This means that the program works for almost all children in this age range including early readers, accelerated readers and struggling readers.

The Skills Survey was painfully long and boring for Izzie.  The Skills Survey Part 1 determines a child's visual sequencing and keyboard skills.  It was very repetitive and took her forever to complete, which quickly lead to frustration and whining about not wanting to complete it.  The entire Part 1 was based on typing the word on the screen in a certain amount of time.  Izzie, 5 years old, is not an expert at typing; therefore, she would hunt and peck for the letters and many times the time would run out before she was done, which led to many meltdowns.

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 Screen from Skills Survey Part 1



We were both relieved after she finally completed the Skills Survey Part 1.  Based on the results from Part 1, the child will be guided to Seeing Sequences (which teaches sequencing skills) and/or the Letter Land (which teaches keyboard skills).  If it is determined that the child already possesses both sequencing and keyboard skills, he or she will be guided to Part 2 of the Skills Survey, which determines a child's reading and writing skills. 

Unfortunately,  Reading Kingdom determined that Izzie needed more practice, so it guided her to the Seeing Sequencing section.  She did fine clicking on the correct letters from left to right.  She struggled finding the correct letter in the given amount of time, so I would think the Letter Land section would have been more appropriate.   

The Reading Kingdom suggests that parents not be actively involved in the program, so that it can customize the program to the child's skills.  The Seeing Sequencing section was identical to the Skills Survey Part 1, and again, Izzie was struggling finding the correct letters in the given amount of time.  Supposedly, this part takes 2 weeks to complete.  I personally could not beg Izzie to do this for another 2 weeks!  So, I ended up helping Izzie complete the Seeing Sequencing section.  She would point to the correct letter on the screen and I would type the correct letter.  Had I not helped, I'm not sure if she ever would have finished this section during the review period.

These are the symbols and their definition used in the Reading Kingdom.   

Not Yet Started
In Progress
Not Required
Completed
Needs Attention
Good Performance
Very Good Performance
Excellent Performance

Here is Izzie's Progress Report.  As you can tell, she "completed" the Skills Survey Part 1 and with my help, she had "Excellent Performance" on the Seeing Sequencing section because of my quick letter finding skill!  In addition, due to my quick letter finding skill, we were guided pass Letter Land.   

Reading & Writing Part 1
Section Progress Performance
Skills Survey Part 1
Assessment to determine whether Seeing Sequences and/or Letter Land are required.
Seeing Sequences
If the Skills Survey determined that Izzie will benefit from learning visual sequencing skills Izzie will be taught the Seeing Sequences format.
Letter Land
If the Skills Survey determined that Izzie will benefit from learning keyboard skills Izzie will be taught the Letter Land format.
Reading & Writing Part 2
Section Progress Performance
Skills Survey Part 2
Assessment to determine level at which to start reader.


I was quite surprised that the Reading Kingdom guided us by the Skills Survey Part 2, as it is an assessment to determine which level to start the reader on.  It stated on the progress report that it was "not required" and automatically placed Izzie in Level 1.  

At the beginning of the review period, I was excited to see which level (1-5) that Izzie would be placed in, as she has been working so hard this past year on reading.   Unfortunately, her reading skills were never assessed and after weeks of crying doing the Skills Survey, she was placed in Level 1.  I would have rather the Reading Kingdom just placed in her Level 1 at the beginning, without completing the Skills Survey, because at this point her excitement was completely gone for this program.
 
 Reading Kingdom consists of 5 levels.  A child does not have to do all the levels. Based on the Skills Survey, he or she enters at the level that is appropriate to the skills he or she already possesses.  In some mysterious way, Izzie was placed in Level 1 and she is slowly working through it.

Reading/Writing Level 1
Reading and writing exercises for Level 1, including books 1-6.
Reading/Writing Level 2
Reading and writing exercises for Level 2, including books 7-12.
Reading/Writing Level 3
Reading and writing exercises for Level 3, including books 13-18.
Reading/Writing Level 4
Reading and writing exercises for Level 4, including books 19-24.
Reading/Writing Level 5
Reading and writing exercises for Level 5, including books 25-30.
 
 The various levels teach the skills of reading, writing and comprehension, starting with short, simple words and phrases and moving on to increasingly complex language.  Assuming 4 to 5 sessions a week, each level takes approximately 10-15 weeks to complete.   If you're curious about what is being taught in each level, please click here for more details. 

There are 6 books in each level.  Within each book, there are a number of words introduced. 

Reading/Writing Level 1
Section Progress Performance
Book 1
Word exercises for BOOK 1 "Some Kids".
Book 2
Word exercises for BOOK 2 "Some Pets".
Book 3
Word exercises for BOOK 3 "The Pets, the Kids".
Book 4
Word exercises for BOOK 4 "The Bugs, the Kids".
Book 5
Word exercises for BOOK 5 "The Toys".
Book 6
Word exercises for BOOK 6 "Some More Toys".
Progress Check Level 1
Reading & Writing assessments for BOOKS 1-6.
Review Level 1
If child does not meet criterion on the Boarding Progress Check, they do this section. It features 15 words from the Boarding Level.

 Here is Izzie's Progress Report for Book 1 in Level 1.  

Even though Izzie was not required to take the Skills Survey Part 2, which was suppose to determine her reading skills, she was able to skip several words in Level 1, Book 1.  According to her progress report, the Reading Kingdom did not require her to learn the first 4 words, possibly based on her (or my) typing skills?
 
Book 1
Words Progress Performance
kid
girl
kids
girls
some
a
boys
more
Read Book 1

 She completed the word "some" and her performance was "needs attention".  I was concerned because she knows the sight word "some", so I did some investigating and this is what I discovered...

Her progress report for the word "some".   

some
Formats Progress Performance
Write In To Read
Detect And Select
Find And Fill

For each word, there are three different assessments.

The first one is "Write In To Read", which is basically typing the "specific" word over and over again.  According to her progress report, Izzie "needs attention" typing the word "some".


Here is a screen shot of a Write In To Read section.  Unfortuntaley, I did not take a picture of Izzie completing this section.

The second assessment is "Detect and Select", which is basically recognizing the specific word in a paragraph and clicking on it.  Izzie received a "very good performance" on finding the word "some".  

 
While Izzie was working on the Detect and Select section, she called me over and asked me to read the paragraph with her.  I was completely shocked that the Reading Kingdom did not read the paragraph to Izzie after she selected all the "some" words nor could she click on an unknown word for pronunciation.  

The last assessment is "Find and Fill", which is clicking on the object that can make the specific word, then typing in the missing letter(s).  Izzie received a "good performance" for the word "some".


 Here is a screen shot of a Find and Fill section.  

 In summary, for her first word "some", she received a "very good performance", a "good performance", and a "needs attention" performance on the typing section.  So, according to her progress report, for the word "some" her overall performance is classified as "needs attention".  Really?  I'm starting to question if  Reading Kingdom is truly a reading program or perhaps it is really a typing program. 

In conclusion, here's what I thought of Reading Kingdom:

Pros:
  • Colorful graphics.
  • Uniquely different for each child.  

Cons:
  • The Skills Survey was long and repetitive.
  • The Skills Survey does not accurately place your child in the appropriate level. 
  • High subscription cost.

Unfortunately, Reading Kingdom was not happily received in our home. To see other members' views about Reading Kingdom, please visit Schoolhouse Review Crew

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free subscription to Reading Kingdom in return for an honest review.

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