This past year, the elementary school where I student taught switched literacy apps from Raz Kids to Lexia Reading Core5®. This was a monumental change, as the two programs are completely different in nature. Initially, the children in my Kindergarten class expressed frustration at the interruption to their Daily 5 routine when we informed them that they must spend an hour every week engaging in literacy games, rather than listening to the interactive ebooks provided by Raz Kids; but it only took a week or two for my students to demonstrate enthusiasm for the tech tool, and I saw a marked growth in target literacy skills the more students engaged in the program.
Lexia Core5 is an adaptive blended learning tool that personalizes learning in six areas of reading instruction—phonological awareness, phonics, structural analysis, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The program was designed for students of all ability levels grades preK through 5; it has features to accommodate a wide range of learning styles and skills, including language accommodations for English language learners. The tool engages students in game-like literacy activities that promote development in each of the six previously mentioned areas; these games have various levels that feature different locations around the world. The activities incorporate music and colorful graphics to interest children, as well as (unlike some educational apps that I’ve worked with) a narrator that speaks like a person instead of a robot. When students finish a level and move on to the next, the program also provides printable certificates to mark the occasion, which motivates students to progress.
One thing I particularly love about the tool is the fact that it has an embedded assessment system that collects student data without testing. This system collects data as children respond to the activities in the program. When students are struggling to grasp a concept, the tool adapts to fit their needs, providing direct instruction for students that need it. Student progress is recorded in data reports, which allow teachers to analyze data on both the student and class level. As a teacher, I found these data reports both informative and helpful as I adjusted instruction accordingly for the individuals in my classroom. The tool even notifies users when students need extra teacher support in a particular skill, and provides ideas for activities to engage in with students to promote growth.
I saw a marked improvement in my students’ reading abilities after implementing this tool into my classroom. My students made connections to Lexia during guided reading, and pointed out new words, sounds, and endings they recognized from the program throughout the school day. In addition to noticing an improvement in student performance in my classroom, I also saw an increased enthusiasm for literacy. The children in my class had so much fun using the tool that they would choose to go on Lexia during free play time periods. My students also frequently communicated with each other about the tool. They were curious what levels their friends were on; they wanted to know what “world” other students could see on different levels. They exhibited pride when graduating to new levels.
This excitement for Lexia Core5 manifested itself in both positive and negative ways in my classroom. Although students were highly motivated to successfully complete tasks in the program, many of them became competitive with each other to the point that some of the lower performing students started asking classmates on higher levels to “play for them.” Luckily we were able to catch this and reset student profiles after explaining to our students that this was not okay. I had to adjust routines and norms in the classroom to de-escalate the competitive climate that built up as a result.
Taking all of my experiences with Lexia Core5 into account, my opinion of the program is positive overall. I would be thrilled to have it as a resource in future classrooms, as I truly believe it is a dynamic instructional tool that improves students’ literacy skills over time. I think the best way to incorporate the tool into your classroom really depends on your students and the context of your classroom culture, but when implemented successfully the tool can make literacy fun for children and provide teachers with information to best meet the needs of all of the students.
Erica Halsey is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan’s ELMAC program. She earned her teaching certificate in addition to a Master’s degree in Educational studies over the course of the last year.