Thursday, October 24, 2013

Differentiating Reading Instruction--RAZ Kids

Several years ago a classroom teacher shared a program with me that was being used by a colleague in a different school.  After reviewing the details of the program, we did a pilot in which we purchased RAZ Kids for her grade level and utilized it over the course of a year.  This pilot led to the purchase of RAZ Kids licenses last year and this year for Grades K,1 and 2.  

RAZ Kids has appeal because it allows for the classroom teacher to use the data they have about their students as readers to select appropriate books for each student.  Each time students use the program, the teacher knows that they are reading books that are at their just right level!  It is differentiated for each student!  RAZ Kids also gives students the ability to choose their own books from a selection that is set for their reading level--thus allowing choice and student interest.  Each level of readers also contains a selection of fiction and nonfiction texts-- many of which can be tied to our curricular units in science and social studies.  The program also has a feature in which students can listen to the books before they independently read them...thus supporting decoding of unknown words and helping them to be successful.  After each book, students are also asked to take a quiz.  These quizzes are set up to look at reading comprehension as well as sequencing and other important reading skills.  Quiz results are recorded and the teacher can review reports to see which skills their students are mastering, or which skills might require lessons and practice in class.

In addition to benefits at school, RAZ Kids is great because it also allows students to log in at home.  Now families can support students in their reading growth....and have a clear way of determining which books would be great for their children to read to them at their independent reading level.  New this year RAZ Kids is supported on tablets too!  

I realize as I write this that it sounds a little like an advertisement for this software...which was not the intention of this post.  I am really trying to clarify how with the right pieces of technology in our school environment we can have powerful differentiated opportunities for students.  I was excited to be a part of the pilot of this software and I am even more thrilled to watch as students effortlessly go on line to find just right books!  As the enrichment teacher, part of my role is helping to figure out how all students can be challenged---meeting them where they are and GROWING!  Technology is a powerful tool that supports teachers in this effort, and I hope to continue to be part of the RES conversation about technology implementation.

Do you have a technology tool that you believe we should consider for classrooms at RES?  Please share your ideas. Do you have questions about RAZ Kids? Please contact myself or your classroom teacher.

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