The reading-assistant ready to reach your pupils
by Cat Roberts Young on May 7th 2020
Teaching is a vocation. We know to many of you it’s more than just a job. It’s a calling. That’s why you go above and beyond for your pupils. Which is why these current times are so challenging – not because of what you need to do to get your job done but because of what you want to get done to achieve the same standards of care. Right now, many teachers like you are busier than ever – setting work remotely to cater for a wide variety of needs and abilities. And it’s hard. Afterall, Covid wasn’t part of your plan for this year and to say it’s upset the status quo would be an understatement.
Your priority is the children in your care. The ones that need your support on so many levels. The ones that need structure, stability, routine and a professional teacher. In a normal classroom environment of course, you’d have more support. Your TAs would be by your side throughout the term – the team you can lean on for support too. But things are different now. Instead of your colleagues, you’re relying on parents to provide the teaching support your pupils need, as best as they can. Many will be struggling. They’re not trained like you and home-schooling will be way out of their comfort zone. They’ll also be juggling full-time work on top of their new ‘teaching assistant’ status and looking for as much support as you can give them. And that’s what you’re currently doing – setting themes for the week, providing maths resources, English exercises and injecting as much enthusiasm into every day as you possibly can. But what about literacy?
We all know that, as adults, it’s creative arts that we’re all turning to throughout lockdown. To music, art, drama and literature as an escape. And our children are no different. The pages of a story provide unlimited adventures and the distractions that they need, but how can you monitor their reading at home? In your classroom you’d listen to each child read. You know which stories they enjoy the most and you know who the confident readers in your class are. You know who the shy children are, the ones who need more encouragement and the ones who struggle to read aloud when the words dance on the page before them. The ones who stumble at even the simplest of sentences.
They’re the ones missing you right now.
Missing the 121 support and the confidence boost you give them.
But there is a way you can still help support them. And it’s less complicated than you think. It’s Fonetti App for the iPad. It’s the reading assistant available to every home, every classroom and is the technology behind interactive reading. Approved by the Department for Education’s Hungry Little Minds campaign as a platform for children to practise their reading, Fonetti is the world’s first listening bookshop. Children choose a story and start reading aloud. When they get the words right, they turn green. If they get stuck, they double tap for help. When they finish a book, they win rewards, stars and fanfares. And it’s also free for 3 months with code: CoronaKindness.
Parents will be grateful of you sharing this resource. Not only will it help build their child’s confidence reading aloud, it will improve their literacy and allow them to read aloud without needing an adult (so they gain precious time or a tea break). But it’s not only parents that benefit.
Imagine the difference this could make to your class when they return
We know you’re under pressure in the working day already. You need to clone yourself and there just aren’t enough hours. But Fonetti can reduce your workload and provide in-depth analytics on how your pupils are progressing.
With Fonetti you can say goodbye to traditional book logs. Instead you can keep up to date with the progress of every child in your class with one simple click. Fonetti can tell you:
- how long each pupil has spent on the app
- which stories they’ve read
- the number of times a title has been chosen
- and what words they’ve struggled with.
Designed by linguistic professors at the University of Edinburgh, Fonetti can tell the difference between children speaking English as a second language, those with dyslexia and SEN. So, it can support every reader individually and allow them to read at their own pace. It also means your TAs can focus their time elsewhere in the classroom – giving you back valuable resource. Don’t just take our word for it though, see what your peers have to say (hyperlink to video of Karena):
Digital natives during lockdown
The generation of pupils missing school throughout this pandemic are the ones who were born with technology at their fingertips. They expect instant feedback for their efforts – the classroom provides this but so does Fonetti. Nicky Nash, teacher and author explains:
‘Fonetti has tremendous potential to help both teachers and pupils. It provides a platform for pupils to practice their independent reading, enhanced by the immediate feedback and reassurance of Fonetti’s clever ‘listening’ technology. Research has shown that feedback is one of the most powerful tools in the classroom, and as a teacher myself, I know how great the impact is on pupils’ learning when feedback is given instantaneously. Of course, in an ideal world, this feedback would be provided by a teacher, but in a classroom set up of one teacher and thirty pupils, it’s a real challenge faced by all schools, and one that technology can assist with.’
We asked Nicky what impressed her most about Fonetti and what features she believes are most important to teachers:
‘Fonetti have designed their app to be so easy to use. I particularly love the rewards section. Each reader can see how many minutes they have read for, the number of books they have read, and the number of days that they have read daily. It’s a simple, but effective way to celebrate each moment that is spent reading. The star- rating they receive after reading each book is also a useful way for pupils to see how well they have read each book, and a great incentive to improve further.
The fact that the app is inviting and user-friendly will ensure its success in any classroom.
Once an established part of pupils’ reading routines, teachers will have access to useful data such as a percentage of accuracy for each individual book, minutes spent on each book and the number of times a pupil has read a specific title. This can all be used to help inform a teacher’s judgment about each pupil’s reading ability. Teachers can also use Fonetti to see which of their pupils are not spending enough time reading, which can be a useful indicator to explain why a child is making slower progress than expected.’
Fonetti bridges a gap between teaching and technology
Technology, and the world around it, is changing at an exponential rate, yet our education system has changed very little in comparison. Nicky explains: ‘Over the last decade, I have seen Primary schools slowly becoming more innovative, and educators are constantly finding better ways to use technology to provide more engaging, more relevant learning experiences for their pupils. However, there are schools where a typical classroom environment still consists of rows of desks, where each pupil sits with a book and a pen or pencil. This is not dissimilar to the classroom set up over one hundred years ago. Can this really be the best way to teach today’s pupils? Our performance in International league tables suggests not. By truly embedding technology such as Fonetti into everyday teaching and learning, it will not only engage our pupils better, resulting in greater learning, but will also support teachers to make rapid and accurate assessments of pupil’s reading abilities.’
Look forward with Fonetti
Covid has interrupted all of our lives. It’s taken away the school environment, the playground, visits to the library and the world as we knew it – for a little while. But, like you, we know that doesn’t mean it can interrupt the opportunity to learn. Keep your classroom connected with Fonetti. Share the resource with parents during lockdown, let your pupils practice their reading in private, and together we can build the confidence of the next generation for future terms to come.
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