Could reading for pleasure be a game-changer?

Reading for pleasure (3)

It is widely accepted that learning to read is an essential life skill, even if there is not total agreement about how this skill should be taught. Once acquired, reading is used everyday but it seems that fewer and fewer people are choosing to read in their leisure time. This decline is not restricted to adults who arguably have less leisure time at their disposal. Children are also choosing to read for pleasure less often.

But is this important? If children have the ‘basics,’ does it matter what they do outside of school? How can immersing yourself in a good book be beneficial, especially in a day and age where ‘reading for pleasure’ feels like a thing of the past?

There is a growing body of educational research evidence that links a number of benefits of children reading for pleasure. The key findings include:

  • Reading for pleasure is important for both educational purposes as well as personal development and it has positive emotional and social consequences;
  • There is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment;
  • There is a positive relationship between reading for pleasure and attainment in a wide range of educational areas, including math;
  • Reading enjoyment may be more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.

This last point is of particular interest because despite increased focus and, in many cases, increased funding, a child’s socio-economic background stubbornly remains the single biggest indicator of a child’s future educational outcomes. What if developing a love of reading holds the key to levelling the playing field for so many children?

The research also examined children’s perceptions of readers. It concluded that elementary-aged readers and non-readers believed that their friends saw people who read as happy and as people with a lot of friends.

It seems that the argument in favor of reading for pleasure has been won — so how can we encourage children to choose to read in their own time? One of the reasons cited for children avoiding books is a lack of reading confidence; thus, removing some of these early barriers becomes essential. Introducing children to picture books with simple vocabulary is a great start.

We know that once children can read a wide range of common words by sight, they are more likely to go on to become confident, fluent readers. These common words are those that children typically recognize within approximately 3 seconds. Amazingly, 50 percent of our written material is made up of these 100 high-frequency words and this is where game-based learning can help. Games like Skoolbo enable children to learn these words effortlessly and in a hugely enjoyable way. Children love games and are fascinated by new technology. Teaching these early reading and spelling skills in an exciting interactive learning environment allows children to get more from their reading. This builds confidence, freeing them to tackle more challenging words and focus more on the story or poem’s meaning which, in turn, leads to increased enjoyment.

Confidence, however, can be fragile and fleeting if we are not careful. Children love sharing books with friends and trusted adults and they are often very happy to read aloud when they are very young. Reading silently or ‘in their head’ is a skill that develops much later, but reading to an adult in a formal school setting can be daunting for some children. It introduces an element of judgement and can result in a drop in confidence. Innovations in educational technology can help children develop as readers independently and free of judgement until they are ready.

Zippy Shine is one such innovation which allows children to practice and record their reading independently. In this reading and performance app, children can choose from a range of exciting adventures with familiar characters or they can try their hand at telling a joke, re-recording as many times as they like until they are happy with their performance. As they listen back to their own reading, they instinctively self-assess, recognizing where previously un-noticed punctuation may have indicated a pause or change of intonation. They begin to have an awareness of audience and develop their performance accordingly. Children remain in control of their own reading development and only share their performance when they feel they are ready. Teachers will soon be able to receive recorded performances via their online teacher dashboard, providing opportunities for encouragement and informing planning for the next guided session. Similarly, parents will soon be able to listen to the recordings in their parent dashboard, which will give them the opportunity to work directly with their child on their reading skills. It can also be a great source of pride and enjoyment for both parent and child.

Technology may not be able to replace that special time curled up in your favorite place with a slightly shabby, much-loved paperback but it can go a long way to help our children develop the needed skills to get there!

New to Skoolbo? Register your child, class or homeschool now for FREE and join the Skoolbo movement!

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The Last Day!

This is it – the final day! Team USA let’s finish big!

Since the first day, you have been awesome, you just need to keep going a little longer.

Team Australia have a strong lead and may be hard to catch but Team GB and Team New Zealand will be doing their best to overtake you so we can’t relax.

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#SkoolboWorldCup

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Or if you’re not registered, it’s not too late!

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It’s Day 3 – Can Team USA pass the half million?

It’s the start of day three and the leader boards reveal that Team New Zealand, Team GB and Team USA are fighting a close battle but it is Team Australia who are seemingly impossible to topple!

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However, here at Skoolbo, we firmly believe that anything is possible so come on Team USA, let’s get ready to take on the Aussies!

We are so close to the half million answer mark and now that Team Australia and Team New Zealand are sleeping we have a chance to cover some ground and get more US schools into the top ten. Here’s how the leader boards looked this morning –

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Australia’s John XXIII Catholic Primary School and St Clare’s Primary School are looking comfortable at the top with St Michael’s School sneaking into fourth place. Team USA had a good day and have four schools in the top ten. Beverley Manor Elementary are continuing their good run as are Irma Dru Hutchinson Elementary and Melba Elementary School. Spring Creek Elementary are also up there flying the Stars and Stripes!

Don’t be fooled by Team New Zealand’s temporary absence on the schools leader board. They are holding on to second place overall and have some dedicated classes determined to oust Team Australia and claim glory –

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Go! US Kids Go!

Follow the challenge – #SkoolboWorldCup

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Or register here –

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Day 2 is underway! Go! US Kids Go!

By lunchtime yesterday, children from across the globe had collectively answered over one million questions! We thought that was pretty amazing until we took a look this morning…over three and a half million questions!

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This is an awesome achievement and everyone taking part has every reason to feel enormously proud. Of course it is made all the more special as every answer given represents another step a student has made towards mastering a new maths, literacy or language skill!

Whilst we are delighted with our collective performance, it is the accomplishment of individual territories that will determine the overall winner and the USA is ready for the challenge!

This is how the leader board looked yesterday –

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The amazing effort by St Clare’s Primary School on day one meant that they managed to hold on to the top spot despite a strong performance from Team GB’s Knockloughrim Primary School. Team New Zealand’s Greytown School and Papakura Normal School did well and secured prestigious places in the top ten as did Team USA’s Beverley Manor Elementary. The seemingly unbeatable Roseville Public School, St Michael’s School, John XXIII Catholic School and Yugumbir State School stayed in the top ten but it was ‘all change’ only hours later –

Leaderboard 2

Irma Dru Hutchinson Elementary pulled out all the stops to also edge their way into the top ten for Team USA – incredible effort! Can Team USA lift themselves off the bottom? We think we can!

Team GB and Team USA have their work cut out – watch this space!

Go! US Kids Go!

Just hit ‘PLAY’

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Or…

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New Professional Development Series

In today’s world, teachers’ plates are overflowing with responsibilities. With all of the demands that are expected of teachers – which include attending mandated trainings – there seems to be little to no time for teachers to seek out professional development opportunities that are of interest to them.

One topic that has been growing in momentum and interest in the teaching community is educational technology. Even though many schools are adopting new technology and requiring teachers to utilize it with their students, many teachers find that they lack a broader context of understanding in order to effectively incorporate these tech products in their classrooms. This leaves many teachers frustrated as they struggle to figure out how to use these products on their own .

With this in mind, Skoolbo has created a new series of professional development webinars, specifically focused on educational technology. These webinars are presented for free as a service to the educational community. The new webinar series will feature topics on:

  • gamification
  • differentiated instruction
  • power of personalization
  • disruptive technology
  • the connected classroom

These short 30-minutes webinars give teachers an overview of the different aspects of ed tech and how to use tech in their classrooms. To find out more about each webinar or to register, go to our Professional Development site. If you can’t join us live, the webinars will be recorded for viewing at a later time.

Help Your Child to Love Reading

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There has been a huge emphasis recently on the importance of reading with your child. But what does good reading look like and how can you best support your child to both enjoy reading and develop the skills that will help them become confident, motivated, fluent readers?

booksWhy is it important that children enjoy reading?

Children who read for pleasure achieve better not only in English but also across a wide range of subjects including math.

open-bookWhat is “good reading”?

Reading is about so much more than simply decoding print; it is a multifaceted process involving word recognition, comprehension, fluency, and motivation.

 


You can download Zippy Shine for 50% off on iTunes or the Google Play Store.


We tend to think that reading is a purely visual skill involving the ability to link letters to sounds. However, learning to read can also rely on a more complex set of underlying cognitive skills such as memory, attention, and sequencing.

Zippy Shine is a reading performance app that gives children the opportunity reach their potential in reading in a fun, enjoyable and safe way. It helps children develop the complex set of skills required to become a ‘good’ reader, placing them in control of their learning.

Children learn to read so they can read to learn!

 

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Zippy Shine is developed by Skoolbo.

Source info: Reading for pleasure, reading agency, transforming children into good readers.

Why learning through play is revolutionizing our classrooms

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Living in the Digital Age means technology has become a necessity that has been woven into our lives and routines. The education sector is no different! Utilizing digital tools and games for teaching reflects the shift to a more efficient learning structure within modern classrooms. Blended learning – the education program that integrates technology into the bulk of content delivery and classroom instruction – has been rapidly on the rise. Among these digital tools lies the often untapped potential of educating students through game-based learning.

Think of the smash hit Angry Birds and how the game mechanics work – you try to knock down buildings by projecting spherical objects with a slingshot. Now think about how – if applied to a physics class – students might be able to learn about the physics behind projectile motion, velocity, and acceleration. The ever-popular Minecraft game operates with the simple premise of world-building using blocks. This innately allows children to develop their spatial recognition and complex planning skills all while playing a game! Similarly, Skoolbo offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a virtual world, where they watch their personalized avatars race and dance as they answer literacy and numeracy questions. The enjoyment children get from playing results in true engagement with their own learning. Before they know it, students are mastering skills ranging anywhere from vocabulary and sentence creation to telling time and multiplying.

Furthermore, Skoolbo fosters motivation and teamwork through its fun competitions. The Duelbo feature allows students to challenge a peer to beat their top score – an engaging way to promote some healthy competition among classmates. Involving friends gets children excited about what they are doing, and it motivates them to continue playing. Skoolbo also features Classbo, a tool that allows teachers to set benchmark goals for their classes. This compels all the students to work collectively to reach those targets! The big event everyone looks forward to is the annual Skoolbo World Cup, where students get to compete against their peers from around the world!

 

MOTIVATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT

A big challenge in education is figuring out how to motivate reluctant learners. Common recommendations include praising students, rewarding positive behavior and finding ways to nurture intrinsic motivation within the student. Game-based learning allows students to feel enthusiastic about their learning experiences. Skoolbo allows students to customize their avatars so that they can have a personal connection and – by extension – will forge a special bond with their in-game character. This makes the game more meaningful for students overall!

Another benefit of learning through play is that students need not be in the classroom for this to happen! In fact, students can opt to use a learning app – such as Skoolbo – at home. This allows them to learn in a more relaxed environment, thus removing any stress associated with being in a formal school setting. Furthermore, it gives parents the opportunity to see their children actively engaging in learning while at home.

Skoolbo’s adaptive algorithm also plays a key part in ensuring student success. It scales the content difficulty depending on the student’s input, thus crafting a personally designed learning pathway for each student. This also makes sure that students won’t feel bored or stressed if the pacing is too slow or too fast, respectively.

 

BUT WHAT ABOUT TEACHERS?

Teachers have much to benefit from employing learning through play, as well. To begin with, this boosts student morale. Secondly, teachers can see students’ progress based on how well they are doing in the game. Skoolbo’s Teacher Dashboard displays results for each student, making it easy for teachers to track how well each student is doing individually. Teachers can use that actionable data to assess and gauge where their students are compared to their expectations.

Students who learn through play experience an enjoyable and highly engaging learning process which in turn develops a natural love of learning. Game-based learning through edtech is a powerful tool for any teacher.

 

Want to know more about the effectiveness of  game-based learning through Skoolbo? We crunched some pretty big numbers recently, analyzing key metrics of improvement from millions of children who play Skoolbo from around the world! Read the white paper!

 

 

New to Skoolbo? Register your child, class or homeschool now and join the Skoolbo movement!

 

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Supporting multiple learning styles through game-based learning

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With back-to-school season well underway, many teachers are embarking on the task of ensuring that every student in their care reaches their academic potential. As we now know, the “one-size-fits-all” teaching method can be ineffective and can quickly lead to student disengagement. So how can teachers design their lessons to ensure they are meeting the individual needs of each and every student in their classroom? A starting point is to familiarize themselves with how their students learn best through intentional observations and honest conversations. This may take some time and dedication on the teacher’s part, but it will be well worth it in the end!

There are many tools that teachers can use in the classroom to help them differentiate their lessons to suit their students’ individual learning styles. One such tool is educational technology. With a myriad of ed tech games in the market, teachers may wonder what is the best one for their students. While there is not a simple, straightforward answer to this, teachers need to take into consideration a variety of factors such as the age and experiences of their students and the desired outcome of the lesson. For example, if an elementary teacher is looking for an app to help her 1st graders gain fundamental skills in numeracy and literacy, Skoolbo would be an excellent choice for her class since it focuses on these skills for children from preK-6th grade.

Although admittedly, there is not total agreement in the education sector about the validity of Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (VAK) theory, it is widely accepted that variety in teaching methods and styles go a long way toward keeping students engaged and learning. Incorporating this variety into lessons will not only ensure all types of learners are catered to but will also encourage individuals to engage with learning in different ways.

Below we look at the three major learning styles of VAK theory and examine how ed tech games, such as Skoolbo can support each style.

Visual Learners
These types of learners need to see the lesson that is being taught. So, for instance, if they are given instructions, they are better able to follow these instructions if the instructions are written on a white board rather than being told to them. Ed tech games, such as Skoolbo, really play to this learning style with their visually stimulating characters and backgrounds. Also, games like Skoolbo have students answer questions that are displayed right on the screen, which is very beneficial for visual learners.

Auditory Learners
Similar to visual learners, auditory learners also use one of their senses to learn. For them, they need to hear what is being taught. Auditory learners learn best through oral teaching methods, such as talking through a topic or singing a song. Skoolbo and many other ed tech games are great for these types of learners because they can hear the questions being spoken out loud, and they get verbal reinforcements throughout the game.

Kinesthetic Learners
Kinesthetic learners like to put their learning into action. They often use their hands to “talk” and to touch things around them, and they also enjoy moving around. One of the features that is included in Skoolbo, Zippy Shake is fantastic for these types of learners because it gets them movin’ and groovin’.

 

Game-based learning has the capability of scaffolding the learning process for all of these types of learners since they focus on multiple learning styles. Such games also help make a teacher’s life much easier as teachers will not need to rely on many different types of ed tech tools to help each of their students. And above all, students enjoy playing games, so engaging them in games that are both fun and educational at the same time is attacking two birds with one stone!

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Rollover has begun! Move your students up so they don’t lose their progress

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Wow! What great progress US kids made last school year on Skoolbo! So far there are nearly 540,000 US students playing Skoolbo, answering 393.9 million reading and math questions which gave them an average improvement of 27%. What a great achievement!

It’s now time to get ready for the new school year on Skoolbo by moving your students up so they don’t lose all their hard earned progress. It will only take 30 seconds to rollover your students from last so they’re all ready to play and learn – with no activity lost!

Rollover your students to keep their well earned progress!
Available only for a limited time so get in quick!

Our Rollover 2016/17 period has begun so you will notice that your Teacher Dashboard looks a bit different.

Follow the simple instructions below or watch our instructional video below to ensure a smooth rollover

loginLog into Skoolbo

Clue: Your username is the email address you used to register with Skoolbo.

If you can’t remember your password, click here to reset it!

 

rollover blueMove your 2015/16 students to 2016/17

  • Click on “Choose a class”
  • Select the new class name (or type a new one)
  • Automatically we will transfer all students in the class (no more one by one!)

 

That’s it! Quick and easy isn’t it!

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Introducing Zippy Shine! A brand new learning app from Skoolbo!

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 **We are offering a 50% off discount to all our early bird Zippy Shiners!**

**Limited offer so get in quick!**

 

Children who struggle in vain with reading in the first school years soon decide that they neither like nor want to read. Gaining confidence with reading is vital to better literacy outcomes and it’s important that they are encouraged every step of the way.

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While the importance of being able to read well is not in doubt, the seemingly effortless activity described as “good reading” is actually made up of a set of highly complex, skills and abilities.
This is where our brand new reading and performance app Zippy Shine can help.

Zippy Shine is packed full of jokes and mini-stories for children to read aloud and record. They’ll be amazed as they discover their own name appearing in every story! Once their performance is perfected, they can play it back for friends and family with their avatar taking centre stage!


Zippy shine brings a range of benefits for children, aged 7 to 11

  • the ability to evaluate their own performance
  • develop their comprehension skills
  • develops the concepts of expression and intonation
  • recognize and respond to punctuation in a meaningful context.
  • read questions and deliver a punchline with expert timing

Zippy Shine gives children the option to link with their existing Skoolbo account to enable sharing of their masterpieces with their parents and teacher to receive valuable feedback and some well deserved applause!

Download the app for a fun, enjoyable way to help children become confident, fluent, motivated readers. Who knows you may discover that the next master storyteller or comic genius is closer than you think! 

Download now!

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Watch Zippy Shine in action!