Friday, January 7, 2011

TOS Review: See-N-Read


I feel like I'm saying, "Not just for homeschoolers" a lot lately, including today. I would use the See-N-Read tools with any of my children that were learning to read, even if I didn't have any homeschool students.

When I was teaching Brennan to read, we often used a bookmark or a folded piece of paper to help keep his place on the page. I'd slide the bookmark down so that it was immediately under the line he was trying to read. By blocking out the bottom part of the page, I hoped that he'd be able to find his place when his mind wandered and that he'd be better able to focus on the line he was reading. Unfortunately I never found an easy way to also block out the writing on the top half of the page.

PhotobucketI've now found an easy way to isolate the line that we're reading. See-N-Read Reading tools help isolate a single line on the page. The clear window allows a student to easily see the specific line of text that they are reading. The grey background visually blocks out the background, but it's still see-through enough that you can see the surrounding text.

Our family tried out the original See-N-Read (product) in both book size (5.5" wide) and document size (8.5" wide). We also used the MemoryMark. It's similar to the See-N-Read but the reading line is cut-out instead of clear. This allows for underlining or highlighting without having to move the tool off the page. Finally, we also downloaded the eSee-N-Read program to use for computer reading.

Addison (7th grade) is a very fast reader. She was a bit annoyed with the hassle of moving the See-N-Read down the page. She felt like it slowed her down too much. In fact, I suspect that she often just left the tool on the page somewhere, read through the grey portion, and then continued down the page without paying attention to the See-N-Read. She also tried the eSee-N-Read while reading her science textbook online. She said that it did help her keep her place if she was interrupted, but she didn't feel like it helped her enough to continue using it. Again, she was frustrated with the way it took more effort to keep track of where the eSee-N-Read was on the page.

Brennan also complained about trying to get the See-N-Read tool in the correct spot while he was reading. It actually helped him when he was reading aloud at a conversational pace because he didn't lose his spot so easily. I think that when he was reading silently, he noticed how the tool slowed him down.

I really think that with practice the act of sliding the reading tool down the page would get easier and less bothersome for both of them if they gave it more of a chance.

Even though both of them complained about it slowing them down, I can envision a time when that would be very useful. As a child, I read very, very fast. (Thank you to the elementary class that taught speed reading.) I sometimes read so quickly that I missed details in the reading assignments, the exact details that were needed to score well on the tests. One day I figured out that I could read while holding a book upside down. It was a bit slower than my normal reading, but I could still read fairly well. From them on, I was often seen holding textbooks upside down. By forcing myself into a slower reading pattern, I was able to retain more of the information for tests. I wish I had found something like See-N-Read to slow me down instead of looking silly with my upside down book for all those years.

Addison did, however, like the Memory Mark version of the See-N-Reader. She's staked a permanent claim to it so that can neatly underline and highlight verses in her Bible.

I can't really blame her for stealing one. I have one of the others tucked away in the knitting bag to mark my place in a complicated cable pattern:

Where the See-N-Read products really shine is for beginning readers or older students that are still building reading skills. The See-N-Read helps them focus specifically on the line of text that they are trying to decode. Lauren will be starting more formal reading instruction soon, and I have a feeling that we'll be using our See-N-Read tools often.

Now that I've seen the See-N-Read, I can't imagine pulling our copy of Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading off the shelf without having one of these tools to mark our place as we go through the lessons. I will definitely have several of the See-N-Read tools available so that Lauren and I can easily find them for her reading lessons.

The prices for See-N-Read and Memory Mark vary according to size ($2.99 or $3.49) with various combinations that provide a small discount. You can order online, but be sure to look at the list of affiliates here. I'm lucky enough to have a local store that should carry these reading tools.

The eSee-N-Read is available for $29.99. Right now it is only available for PC users, but a Mac version is coming soon.

My bottom line is that these tools may make reading a whole lot easier for a beginning reader or for a child who still struggles a bit. It's probably unnecessary to purchase one for a child that it already reading fluently. As always, you can see other reviews of this item on The Old Schoolhouse Crew Blog.

I received several See-N-Read tools and a free download of eSee-N-Read as a member of the 2010 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.

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