Is All Screen Time Bad? These Digital Tools May Actually Help Literacy Instruction

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One size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to literacy, with children of the same physical age often demonstrating a wide range of reading ages. Teachers can struggle to make standardized resources and lessons work for all of their pupils. Fortunately, new digital tools that adapt to users’ needs are becoming more widespread.

At their simplest, online tools such as Raz-Kids and Newsela offer classroom access to a broad range of texts that ensures teachers can always assign an appropriate level of work. This helps to avoid the frustration of kids finding work too difficult while ensuring a generous measure of stretch to help literacy development. Other options for text choice include adaptive text lists that incorporate user input to amend the reading level of the text on the fly to suit the user’s needs, such as Lightsail.

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Beyond expanding teachers’ choice of texts, digital tools offer more focused opportunities for skills development. Hundreds of apps on the market claim to address early-literacy skills. These span recognizing letter sounds, comprehension, and writing skills. Different students are likely to require specific tools that work on the reading skills they need, and it’s up to teachers to choose between the plethora of available options carefully. Some available resources, such as Lexica Reading Core5, claim to cover all the skills required for literacy.

Intervention and diagnostics are perhaps less intuitive uses for software, since screen time is often blamed for children having attention span issues and social difficulties. However, software such as READ180 uses advanced analysis and algorithms to ensure that students are exposed to fresh vocabulary while retaining an overall appropriate reading level. This system also provides feedback to the teacher about the user’s performance and needs, enabling more personalized adjustments.

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Teachers work hard to get the right systems for their pupils, and personalization facilitated by software looks likely to help. Remember, though, that good literacy begins at home. Set out on the learning journey with these great at-home literacy apps.

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