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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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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Manny Pacquiao Joins the Skoolbo Dream

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We are deeply honored to have Manny Pacquiao, Filipino boxer and politician, join us in our dream of ensuring every child learns to read and gains confidence with numbers. Manny is a true legend and an inspiration to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Just this year, the world saw the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather boxing match in what was one of the largest sporting events in history.

We are especially pleased to announce the upcoming launch of Skoolbo Philippines – Go! Pinoy Kids Go!

Manny Pacquiao with Skoolbo's Shane Hill and Julien Picot

Manny Pacquiao with Skoolbo’s Shane Hill and Julien Picot

Manny Pacquiao with his Jack Russell called Pacman who travels with Manny around the world and has his own passport!

Manny Pacquiao with his Jack Russell called Pacman who travels with Manny around the world and has his own passport!

Watch Manny Pacquiao do the Skoolbo Zippy Shake

Our dream is that every child learns to read and gains confidence with numbers… these are life’s essentials. We believe technology can dramatically help and that the best way to do it is to make it lots of fun and to make it FREE! 

Skoolbo Goes Big in the Big Apple

PS /MS 129's Mrs. Gee Waithaka's class celebrating their 75k answers milestone - the first class to do so in NY.

PS /MS 129’s Mrs. Gee Waithaka’s class celebrating their 75k answers milestone – the first class to do so in NY.

They don’t call it the Big Apple for nothing! The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) is the largest system of schools in America and we have certainly seen how much of an impact NYC can make in educational progress–in the past several months, 15 NYC schools alone have answered a total of over 10 million questions on Skoolbo. It’s no surprise that 4 of the ten Skoolbo Super Schools (schools answering over 1 million questions) in America are NYC schools. NYC schools also consistently dominate the Skoolbo leaderboards, often leading out on representing America among Skoolbo countries worldwide.

Record Breaking Success

We have been blown away by the persistence of the NYC students as they blaze a trail for children around the world to follow. PS 6 Norma Adams Clemons Academy easily broke a Skoolbo record by answering nearly half a million questions in just one week!

A typical sight: NY schools dominating the leaderboard. In this particular week, PS 6 breaks a Skoolbo record: almost half a million answers in one week!

A typical sight: NY schools dominating the leaderboard. In this particular week, PS 6 breaks a Skoolbo record: almost half a million answers in one week!

On top of this amazing accomplishment, we’ve also seen great success for technology teachers as well:

“We are extremely proud of our students. Students went home and downloaded it on their phones and tablets and computers. They are competing with their friends for points without even realizing they are learning. Teachers will be using results of students’ progress in our Parent-Teacher conferences next week. The teachers are now signing up to use the laptop carts more than ever. For the first time the laptop cart sign out sheet on each floor is full to capacity! Our principal is very excited about the students’ work.  Each day she goes on the intercom and announces the class of the day and the student of the day and that motivates the students to do more. Thanks to our District Superintendent, Mr. Ellis for his vision and for introducing Skoolbo to us. Thank you for making this program available to us free of cost.”

-Marcia Mcfadyen, Technology Teacher, P.S. 6. Norma Adams Clemons Academy

The Secret Behind the Success: Wonderful Collaboration

We are so grateful for the incredible support we’ve received from NYC technology teachers, librarians, teachers, administrative staff, principals and district superintendents. The astounding results we see with NYC students learning on Skoolbo are a direct result to these individuals’ vision and commitment to excellence in education, as well as their belief that it truly takes a village to raise a child. The teachers and staff encourage the children to succeed at school and home, and much of the students’ progress on Skoolbo is through the great initiative these educators take to involve the parents in their children’s education at home.

We love collaborating with NYC schools because they are in such accord with the Skoolbo dream that every child learns to read and gain confidence with numbers, through having fun and involving both parents and teachers.

PS 129 students celebrating success in front of their Skoolbo goal board.

PS 129 students celebrating success in front of their Skoolbo goal board.

“At the John H. Finley Campus School, we believe that all children are entitled to a quality education. We are committed to developing a child-centered environment and instructional program, which will result in a community of critical thinkers and lifelong learners. With the collaborative efforts of parents, faculty, students and community, we will empower our students to become responsible, productive and enlightened individuals.”

-Odelphia H. Pierre, Principal, P.S./M.S. 129 John H. Finley Campus School

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Students playing Skoolbo at P.S. 176’s Computer Lab

“Skoolbo is a magnificent Common Core resource for children of various academic needs. The students have achieved tremendous success across all academic areas. The learners are actively engaged and able to work independently. Data is easily collected and analyzed by teachers and administrators to assist in the planning of effective classroom instruction. The “At Home” component has given parents a connection to their children’s educational needs. Parents are also given the opportunity to track the progress of their child in an effort to provide extra help in areas of weakness. We look forward to using Skoolbo in the upcoming years.”

-Michelle Liotta, Technology & Library Teacher, P.S. 176 Cambria Heights 

The London vs New York Challenge

London vs NY

The Big Apple is so big that we are merely scratching the surface of the powerhouse of learning that is the NYC DOE. We’re truly only seeing the beginning so stay tuned: in less than 2 months, we’ll be holding the London vs New York Challenge! We’ll have a special tally on our website on June 15-19, 2015 to count how many math and reading questions each city answers on Skoolbo. For five days, these two historic cities will duke it out in the Skoolbo arena and only the “smartest” will come out the winner! Here at Skoolbo USA, we have full confidence that NYC schools will do us proud in the upcoming challenge against London. London schools won’t give up easily though, so we’ll need NYC to come out in full force!

America’s cheering for you, New York! Go! New York Kids Go!

Two More Schools Join the Ranks of Super School

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It takes a lot to become a Skoolbo Super School–1 million collective answers, that is–but that’s just what both Overbrook Attendance Center (OAC) and South Polk Elementary endeavored to do. Currently, only 4 other schools in America lay claim to the title of Skoolbo Super School.

Overbrook Attendance Center | Overbrook, KS

Overbrook Attendance Center

Overbrook Attendance Center is the pre-K to 2nd grade school for USD #434 Santa Fe Trail, located in the city of Overbrook, approximately 25 miles southeast of Topeka. The OAC faculty’s commitment to nurturing their students’ thirst for knowledge, paired with the support of a vibrant community of parents and others, clearly reflects the students’ outstanding performance on Skoolbo!

We want to give a special shout-out to Overbrook’s Computer Paraprofessional, Cheryl Arwine for bringing technology and education together at OAC. We also want to especially recognize teachers Susan Bernhardt, Roxy Heffner, Chris Giebler, whose classes have answered over 90K questions and Amanda Lattimer and Angie Portlock, whose classes are each well over 150K answers!

South Polk Elementary | Old Fort, TN

South Polk Elementary

Located in the southeast corner of Tennessee, South Polk Elementary is home to the most active students of their state! We applaud the Polk County Schools’ beliefs that

All children can learn.
Learning is a life-long process.
Both mental and physical health are important.
Students need to think both critically and creatively.

These beliefs have propelled 17 classes of South Polk Elementary, each ranging from 30 to 120 K answers, to Super School status!  High praises are due to Amy Hood and Marcia McClary and their Kindergarteners for answering well over 100,000 questions in each of their classes, as well as Tina Davenport, South Polk Elementary’s very own Computer Lab teacher, for setting up and organizing all the classes.

Congratulations to both Overbrook Attendance Center and South Polk Elementary School for their fantastic accomplishment! We here at Skoolbo are committed to our dream of every child learning to read and gaining confidence with numbers and we are so glad to have the support of these two outstanding schools!

Skoolbo is in Mexico – the 1st School is off to a Hot Start!

Many exciting developments are underway with our neighbors to the south. We are excited to announce that the very FIRST Mexican school has joined Skoolbo! We’d like to extend a warm welcome to the students and faculty of UPAP School!

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Students at UPAP hard at work on their own personal tablets.

UPAP is located in the municipality of Jocotitlán, in the northwestern part of the State of Mexico.

The Spanish acronym UPAP stands for “The Alejo Peralta Educational Unit”. This educational institution was established in the 1960’s by industrial pioneer Alejo Peralta. It was his mission to support the children of the growing industrial community by providing an integral education – including preschool, elementary, junior high, high school, and even technical trade school – at no cost to the families.

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The school’s facilities include: ample green areas, civic area, auditorium, library, medical and dental service, three computer labs, machining, lathe, and drawing shop, athletic fields, vegetable garden, kitchen, and showers.

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Solar panels on the school grounds help meet UPAP’s energy needs while teaching the students about environmental responsibility!

Special Announcement!

Skoolbo is so honored with this opportunity to support UPAP’s mission of providing free education to the community by working closely with the highly qualified educators there to develop a Mexican specific version of Skoolbo in the near future!

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Sneak peak of Skoolbo Mexico!

Skoolbo’s COO Colin Brown had the pleasure of visiting UPAP in person last week and meeting with Agustin Paulin, an ed-tech expert who is revolutionizing education in Mexico through the use of technology.

Skoolbo COO Colin Brown checking in on a classroom!

This dynamic duo visited students in classrooms, energizing and encouraging the kids to reach some incredible numbers in just days. During this trip, Colin also received incredible feedback and ideas from Agustin and his team of educators. Our own development team will have many exciting things to work on for the upcoming Mexican version of Skoolbo.

Until the Mexican specific version is released however, the students at UPAP will continue to use the US version of Skoolbo with English as the target language. Answering questions in their second language has not held these kids back from success.. in fact, the students at UPAP have gotten off to a FIERY start! Both classes at UPAP have climbed their way to the very top of all classes on the US Leaderboard!

#1 – Class 5A!! #2 – Class 6A!!!

UPAP is #11 on the All US Schools Leaderboard!

UPAP among the ranks of some of Skoolbo USA’s consistent top-performing schools, with only THREE active classes! #11 and climbing.

The feedback from the children has been fantastic. The kids love Skoolbo and use it as often as they can, which is pretty often since they each have their own tablets!

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“We organized a competition between the three classes. The number of answers tripled that day. In fact, UPAP school made it to the top 35 schools in the Leaderboard.”  – Agustin Paulin

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“It was an amazing experience to travel to Mexico and meet with the students and teachers of UPAP. Skoolbo is very fortunate to have found an educational institution whose philosophy and passion toward education are so in tune with our own. We look forward to building on this experience with UPAP and working together with Mr. Paulin to bring Skoolbo to all children in Mexico.” -Colin Brown

Skoolbo could not have chosen a better school to launch the expansion of Skoolbo into Mexico. Stay tuned for updates on other new developments and Skoolbo’s international expansions!

FOREVER FREE Officially Ended

Our Forever Free registration finally came to a close last week on December 31, 2014! We want to say THANK YOU to all of our early adopters who joined us on this journey these past months. Skoolbo began with the dream that every child has the right to learn and be competent in literacy and numeracy. We believe that the best way to achieve this dream is through technology, making it lots of fun and FREE! Thank you to all those who echo our passion to see this dream become a reality. This has been a tremendous collective effort over the past several years, and we are so grateful for each one of you because we honestly cannot do it without your support!

The Journey Continues

If you and your students have been enjoying Skoolbo so far, brace yourselves because there is still so much more to come! Your team at Skoolbo is constantly working on new ideas and we have many exciting developments to come. Stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and this blog for the latest updates and improvements.

So now that Forever Free is over, what does this mean?

As a Forever Free early adopter, you are qualified for all the features seen in the School Gold License section of our Pricing page. Of course, Skoolbo has been, is, and always will be completely free for students! Children may freely access all student features and there will never be a “premium” student version for purchase.

As for parents, teachers, and schools who missed our Forever Free registration deadline, not to worry! Parents, teachers, and schools can still register for free and receive the same, great program for their students! In the next months, we will also be introducing our inexpensive Gold versions, which will unlock even more ways for parents, teachers, and schools to engage in their students’ learning.

What are you waiting for? No matter which option you choose, your children will receive the maximum benefit from this powerful educational tool for FREE, so register today!

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Last 24 Hours of Skoolbo World Cup Challenge!

We have reached the last 24 hours of the Skoolbo World Cup Challenge, and it’s been an exciting competition! As the weekend began, Team USA had a fairly comfortable lead over Team GB–but as the weekend progressed, Team GB made an amazing effort and stole the lead on Sunday afternoon!

Team USA has since recovered its place but the hours are counting down and who knows which team will come out on top!

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Hopefully by now, you’ve seen that each child who has answered over 250 questions during the Skoolbo World Cup Challenge has received a special event plane as recognition for his/her great work! Each child who surpasses 1,000 questions answered during the Challenge will also receive another special plane, commemorating his/her accomplishments.

The goal of this event is to promote students gathering together to learn, and we have been already so impressed with the results!

One librarian shared:

We could not believe how excited they have been this week. Many of our children are going home and “playing” the games to continue to keep our school in first place.
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One parent actually came by and [asked us] today,”What are you all doing with my child?” “What do you mean? we asked. “My child was on the computer for over an hour after school yesterday. I only allow them 30 minutes a day after homework is completed. However, he told me homework was completed on the bus because he had to come home and get on Skoolbo to continue to beat Great Britain.” She could not believe him [and] asked him to explain. [She] went on website and was super impressed with what she saw. Needless to say, she loves Skoolbo as much as the kids and we do!
 Go team USA!

All students are performing wonderfully, with now over 6.2 MILLION questions answered in the past 6 days! The Skoolbo World Cup Challenge will officially end tomorrow at 2:00 PM PST. Let’s encourage our students in this race to the finish! Go Team USA! Go! US Kids Go!

Day 3 of the Skoolbo World Cup Challenge

It’s only Day 3 for the Skoolbo World Cup and we’re seeing incredible efforts from the US and UK as they push ahead, answering over 4.1 MILLION questions! We are on the way to breaking some Skoolbo records!

Team USA is still in the lead, with the margin steadily increasing since Day 1, from being around 90,000 answers ahead to now around 130,000 answers ahead! We will see if Team USA can keep the lead as the weekend approaches.

We want to give a special shout-out to Hutchinson Elementary in Richmond, TX, Willowbrook Elementary in Bentonville, Arkansas, and Beverley Manor Elementary in Staunton, VA for being the top three schools, dominating the School Leaderboard for the Skoolbo World Cup Challenge with over 130,000 questions answered each! They are blazing past the other schools in both America and UK and setting a challenging pace for the rest of us! Congratulations!

The top 10 classes are almost a 50 / 50 split between US and UK today with Class WESPJ4 from Willowbrook Elementary confidently holding the lead as number 1 class, answering over 50,000 questions!

This has been an amazing achievement from Skoolbo children all around the world, and we are so proud of all of you for supporting your team and joining together to learn and improve in literacy and numeracy!

And, as a reminder to keep on shakin’ when you return to your classrooms on Monday, here’s a great video of Aldermoor Farm Primary School in the UK doing the Zippy Shake!

Mrs. Pray’s 2nd Graders Give the Skoolbo World Cup a Big Thumbs Up!

Meet Mrs. Pray’s Second Graders from Becky-David Elementary in St. Charles, Missouri. With over 80,000 questions answered, their class has made it all the way to the top 20 Skoolbo Super Classes in America! They have given Skoolbo USA and the World Cup Challenge a Big Thumb’s Up!

Becky-David Elementary is one of 10 elementary schools in the Francis Howell School District.  The vision of the Becky-David Elementary School that all students will develop the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to become literate and productive citizens aligns with Skoolbo’s dream that every child learns to read and gains confidence with numbers.

Students have enjoyed playing Skoolbo during math station time and Daily 5 Time since the beginning of the school year, but their enthusiasm has reached new heights with the introduction of the World Cup Challenge and Team USA.

Mrs. Pray reports that she has never seen a class more motivated by anything. She was excited to let us know, “Now that the World Cup is happening, they are more motivated than ever. I hear them talking about playing at home and making sure they get their next Superhero Suit. It is amazing!”

Ms. Pray Second Grade Class Give Skoolbo USA a Thumb's Up

“We LOVE Skoolbo so much! We know the USA will win the World Cup!” – Mrs. Pray’s Second Graders

“I have never seen a program as motivating as this one. I love how it meets each of my students individual needs.” – Mrs. Pray