Improve your reading, now. by Tara Wiatrek
Read faster! Improve comprehension!
These are the claims of the Ace Reader Pro program by Stepware. As an Instructional Intervention Teacher I spend my days helping elementary children who have difficulty reading. Many of these children struggle with slow labored reading. These children are often less motivated to read and may avoid reading all together. This results in less reading practice and thus they fall further behind their peers. Children as well as adults, who read fluently, read quicker and often read more. A common saying in education is that good readers are the ones who read the most. Reading quickly allows you to read more material in a shorter amount of time, which then permits you time for other things. With all of this in mind, I was curious about the claims of the AceReader program.
The program was very easy to download and the directions were detailed and easy to follow. Included in the program are evaluations where you are timed as you read a passage. The passages are leveled from 1 st grade to beyond 12 th grade. There are several passages for each level. After reading you are asked comprehension questions. A beneficial feature is that you can refer back to the text when answering the questions. You can also take a forced speed comprehension test to see how well you read at a set speed. After calculating the words read per minute on the evaluation, drills are customed prepared to help increase your reading speed. The program includes drills to warm-up as well as to increase your words per minute. Also included are games that help eye fixation. Guidelines for the program suggest taking a self-paced comprehension test once a day and then spending 20 to 40 minutes per day on drills and games.
After downloading this program I had my nine-year-old son, Nathan, use the program. He started at the lowest level to build confidence and meet with success. As you increase in reading levels your rate of reading often decreases. Nathan began each lesson with the drills. After the warm up, a story is presented four times at increasing rates of speed. I found it difficult to keep my son’s attention focused during the drills. It quickly became apparent to me that this program might be better suited for older children or adults who are self-motivated to improve their reading. Nathan did enjoy several of the games including Flash and Recall. He was successful in correctly identifying words and phrases that were flashed on the screen. However, as he advanced he was asked to correctly type in what was flashed. This was much more difficult for his age because it involved correct spelling. He was frequently able to say what was flashed, but unable to spell it and thus it was counted as an error. As a teacher one game that I particularly liked was Searching and Scanning. In this game you are asked to locate a word or phrase from text in a limited amount of time.
Although Nathan has only used the program for a short time I do see some improvement. Several of the elements of the program were difficult for a nine-year-old. However, the program does allow for options that can be extensively customized, including setting speed as well as creating and editing various drills and text. You can even import text from other applications.
My conclusion is that a self-motivated older user might benefit from the Ace Reader Pro program. The program itself says success comes from a positive attitude, patience and practice. I agree. For more info and updates go to www.stepware.com.
Tara Wiatrek, a guest reviewer, has taught for 18 years (MA in Education) and is the Instructional Intervention Teacher (reading) at Hardy Oak Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas. Tara enjoys reading, quilting and antique shopping. She can be contacted email@example.com.
Note: This version is for one person and retails for $49.95 - the multi-person version is $79.95. Editor
Charles W. Evans is a HAL-PC member and the Magazine’s Reviews Editor who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org