Want to improve your child or student’s reading ability? Google has created a new reading app to make that easier to achieve. You may recall Google’s previous entry into reading apps, Rivet. We wrote about it in Reciprocal Teaching with Google’s Rivet App. Today, we’ll review some important research on reading and then jump into the new Read Along app.
Note: Trying to open the link to the Rivet or Read Along app? Unlike Rivet, Read Along is not available for web or iOS users. Make sure you use a personal Gmail account, not a work (e.g. G Suite EDU) account. The reason why is that the links point to the Google Play store. Google Play doesn’t allow G Suite EDU accounts because some apps cost money.
The Power of Reading
“On average, Americans aged 20 to 34 spend a 0.11 hours reading daily, which amounts to less than seven minutes per day.” (Source: Statista). Is that trend reflective of what happens in schools?
This can have a profound impact on student learning over the long run. Jennifer Gonzalez (Cult of Pedagogy) highlights these points from Schmoker’s book, Focus:
- In the early years, students need time to read, not to do skills drills or reading “activities.” Students should “never, ever engage in cut, color, or paste activities.” Those occupy more than 100 instructional hours per year, asserts Schmoker.
- Students should read fiction and nonfiction. He says, “We learn to read well by reading a lot for meaning,” when we read to do the following:
- Analyze or support arguments,
- Arrive at our own opinions as we make inferences or attempt to solve problems.
- Students should engage in discussions at least three times per week. These discussion should have established criteria to guide them.
His assertions underscore the importance of reading. You can use Reciprocal Teaching and TRTW. As you can see from the chart below, getting children to read early on has a direct connection to whether students graduate.
With those statistics and information in mind, we must do more than encourage reading. We have a mandate about what it can do in the lives of our children.
In the free Android Read Along app, young readers have a digital tutor that assists them in reading text on screen. If you ever read Living Books’ Arthur’s Teacher Troubles, then you have an inkling of how things work.
The app has a reading buddy who listens to your young learner read aloud and offers help when they struggle. Rewards are given in the form of stars. It works best for children who already have some basic knowledge of the alphabet.
Watch this video of it in action:
The app combines games and stories, as shown below:
The app shows pictures and text on screen and listens to the child read a story. It encourages students to read for ten minutes a day. It will also keep track of how much they’ve read and offer prizes. It has a fun option of playing music in the background that may become annoying.
You can also switch to a variety of languages, such as Spanish. See how books appear in Spanish when you switch languages.
Don’t be afraid to give this app a try with your young reader. It may be the type of engagement your child needs. Read along with your child to improve engagement.