The XPRIZE

“More than 36 million U.S. adults lack basic English literacy skills.

A 1% rise in literacy skill scores can boost labor productivity by an estimated $225 billion per year.

Increased literacy can decrease U.S. annual healthcare costs by an estimated $230 billion per year.”

These are just some of the reasons why the Barbara Bush Foundation is calling for edtech developers to produce an app to transform the lives of low-literate adults with the launch of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE.

And Oxford Learning Solutions has entered.

The bar has been set high, and we need to have a fully-functioning app that can be used with existing smartphone devices by the end of 2016. And it also needs to change the lives of at least 1 in 10 low literate adults living in the US, within 12 months of using the software.

The app will be accessible, increase retention, and be able to meet a high demand.

What makes us feel so confident that we can succeed, where so many other place-based adult reading interventions have failed?

Because we already have a solid programme for younger learners, with all the data and testimonials to prove that it works.

If we can create an app that appeals to the adult learner, and draw on some of the engaging and motivational techniques that are so effective in the Easyread System, then we believe we are onto a winner.

As some of you may know, we’re also working on a younger version of the current programme that’s suitable for first-time readers, to set them on the right path for reading.

2016 is certainly looking exciting for our team. We’ll keep you updated along the way!

Happy new year to you and to our secret agents, from all the team here!

-          Maddie

 

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Thank you for giving him the tools and the confidence to read publicly

“We are enjoying Easyread so far. Evan especially likes the games, his favourite being Letter Quest. We are both finding it easy to keep up with the short, daily lessons routine.

Evan really liked the Coolest Cars book. When I asked him if there were anything he would liked to improve about Easyread he replied that it needs more non-fiction books like that.

I have seen improvements with Evan’s decoding since we began. When he slips back to guessing it is usually because he is distracted. It reminds me to make sure that his little brother, LEGO bricks and the dog are out of the picture for the 15 minutes we need to complete the lesson.

Evan’s confidence in his reading has definitely improved since we started the program. He recently volunteered to co-narrate the Christmas pageant at our church. I was a bit nervous for him, but he told me not to worry because if he didn’t know a word he would picture the Easyread characters to help him decode it. Besides, he said, he had a week to practice. Christmas Eve came and he read his part of the script flawlessly. I was so proud of him. Thank you for giving him the tools and the confidence to read publicly.”

A testimonial from Evan’s mum, lesson 45.

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Christmas Tales, written by our Easyread writers

In the run up to the holidays, we thought it’d be a nice idea to give our budding Easyread writers the chance to see their festive stories appear in our Easyread library, to really put our readers in the festive mood.

We received heart-warming stories galore, featuring the likes of the snowman, Father Christmas, Rudolph, baby Jesus and a dinosaur called Pinkaton! Heart-breaking tales turned into stories of friendship and happy endings, a guaranteed recipe for a great Christmas tale.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the 3 winning stories that will become part of our new library book, Christmas Tales, as:

A Dino Christmas, by Bethan

Rudolph Runs Away, by Matilda

The Day the Snowman Got Built, by Riley

A huge congratulations to you all! We’ll have your stories in the Easyread library later on this week for everyone to read, just in time for the holidays.

We’ll be running further writing competitions in the future and we hope to see you all there again soon.

If you’d like to read Bethan, Matilda and Riley’s stories now, you can find them published in this blog post below.

A big congratulations again to our winners, and we look forward to reading your writing in the programme and in all future competitions.

Happy Holidays!

A Dino Christmas

Bethan, aged 8

It was Christmas Eve and the Ants in Pink Pants were feeling sad because all their friends had gone to a fun Christmas party and there was no room for them. The Ants in Pink Pants remembered their friend, Pinkaton (a pink T-Rex) had told them that there would be an exciting Christmas fair in DinoWorld. The Ants in Pink Pants had a made a “Pant-Machine” that would allow them to travel to any dimension. So the Ants in Pink Pants decided to travel to see their friend, Pinkaton.

They bumped and thumped until they landed in a mess of snow. One of the Ants poked her head out and saw it was cold, with deep snow and in the distance there was a vast forest with trees as tall as mountains. Their friend Pinkaton rushed up to them in tears. She was upset because all the Christmas decorations and presents had been stolen by Mr Evil Carrot Nose. The Ants in Pink Pants wondered how the snowman had even come to life, but there was no time to ask, and off they set to rescue Christmas in Dino-World.

Pinkaton allowed them to climb on her back and rushed through the fields like Santa’s reindeer flying through the sky. They travelled over rocky mountains and through the thick forest following the snowman’s tracks. Eventually, they arrived in a clearing and exhausted, decided to rest. But Pinkaton smelt something beefy coming from an underground burrow.

The Ants in Pink Pants crept up to the burrow and peered inside. The tunnel looked like a shiny slide so without hesitation, the Ants in Pink Pants slid down with Pinkaton behind. At the bottom of the slide they saw Mr Evil Carrot Nose and the Thief with the Beef!!! (Dun, dun, dah!!!!)

They all scrambled into a corner and saw the jolly face of Santa (but not looking so jolly) trapped in a cage. Out of the corner of his eye, the Thief with the Beef spotted the Ants in Pink Pants and dropped his beef in shock! The Ants in the Pink Pants rushed towards the beef and scooped it up and with a mighty shout they cried “CHARGE!”

Pinkaton rose up and chased after the Thief with the Beef. The Ants in Pink Pants surrounded Mr Evil Carrot Nose and the snowman started to melt from the heat of the fire. Quickly the Ants in Pink Pants released Santa and threw the beef into the fire. Quick as a flash, the Thief, with no Beef, escaped out of a secret door behind the fire. The Thief with no Beef has escaped again, but the Ants in Pink Pants had saved Christmas!!

The Day the Snowman Got Built

Riley, aged 7

Tom and Rose were decorating the Christmas tree when they heard a knock at the door.

They thought it was their dad but actually it was a raven. He was the size of a tall man wearing a magician’s hat and black gloves.

He said he was homeless because he had been sacked from the circus as they thought he wasn’t good enough.

So Tom and Rose built him a house, in the shape of a snowman, out of bricks in their dad’s shed and persuaded him to create his own circus for Christmas.

This made the raven very happy.

Rudolph Runs Away

Matilda, aged 7

Once upon a time there was a little reindeer called Rudolph.
He did not have any friends; all the other reindeer teased him,
even Father Christmas did not like him.
So Rudolph decided to run away.
Father Christmas realized he had gone.
He felt guilty so he went to find him.
He found him with Jesus and Mary.
Father Christmas said sorry to Rudolph, the other reindeer said sorry too.
Rudolph said goodbye to his new best friend Jesus.
Father Christmas said to Jesus “Merry Christmas Jesus”
And he gave Jesus a present, of course it was Christmas night.
And they went to deliver all the presents to the children.

The End

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Breakthrough Readers of November

In the run up to the holidays, our secret agents have been working just as hard as ever, logging in every day to complete their secret mission training – master the Trainertext code to achieve reading success.

There’ve been a number of helicopters that have taken off from both our UK and US posting depots to arrive with our Easyread graduates all over the world. We hope you enjoy many hours of fun with your helicopters – you deserve them. As ever, do send us a photo/video of the helicopter in action, we’d love to share it with our other Easyread learners as something they can look forward to. And do keep in touch and let us know how you’re getting on with your future studies.

Following on from a successful October month of Easyread Breakthrough Badge awards, we’ve decided to award our new Breakthrough Badge to the following readers, to celebrate their reading take-off moments. These achievements normally occur around lesson 90, and we love to tell the world about them!

badge

Hannah

When Hannah joined the programme, she found it difficult to decode and sound out words. Being a highly visual learner, she often mirrored her letters. She could learn words for a spelling list without difficulty, but found it challenging to recall these words once the spelling test was complete.

Now Hannah, aged 8, is reading books that her tutor thought she would never manage. Her whole confidence has improved and she will try new things, something she never would have considered. She does find the story a wee bit harder but is enjoying the challenge. Her reading support time in school has also been reduced. Way to go Hannah!

Luke

When Luke began Easyread, his mother was concerned about his reading fluency. His technique for sight reading words led to him adding words that weren’t on the page, or changing a word completely. He also had difficulty in blending words. For instance, “a” would become “I”, or “what” would become “that”. However, he appeared to know them as sight words alone.

A combination of our Guided Phonetic Reading technique and our recommended eye-tracking exercises means that Luke has now completed our Reading Assessor within the 90 days, moving from a Level 1 right through to the top level, Level 8. A great achievement as this was completed without using any of our Trainertext characters, indicating a good ability to decode a single word. Well done Luke!

Sophie

Sophie is a bit further on in the programme, but she excitedly told us this month that she has won an award at her school presentation night and gets to choose a book as a prize.

From guessing some words when reading, confusing “b” and “d” and spelling troubles to an award night, we want to say a big well done Sophie! Thoroughly deserved. We hope you enjoy your evening.

Ethan

Ethan joined Easyread behind his classmates in reading and writing. He was receiving extra help in school for reading but progress was not as quick as his parents would have liked. He could learn simple spellings for tests but would soon forget them afterwards. His confidence as a reader had taken a bit of a knock.

Ethan loves computer games, so it bode well for the Easyread programme working well for him. Now, around lesson 70, 6 year-old Ethan is reading fluently and accurately within the programme. We thought everyone should know how well Ethan is coming along – we know we can’t wait to see where he ends up over the coming weeks on the course. Well done Ethan!

If you feel like your child has reached the point of reading take-off and we haven’t included them this month, then do let us know, so we can send their badge out to them for this month.

This month once again, we feel that there was one Breakthrough story that really stood out for us.

James’s story is one that began with special targeted classes in reading. But after 2 years, his reading hadn’t seen much progress. He was still writing his letters and numbers backwards, and often had difficulty with common sight words like “the” and “and”. Aged 8, James still loved school, but reading wasn’t exactly an enjoyable task.

After four months of Easyread, James is now very good at our pure decoding pages, with just the Trainertext characters rather than the letters. He is happy to go back and decode a word if there is ever any guessing. And most importantly, he tells his mum that he loves reading.

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James’s mum shares their story here.

“As James’s mum I struggled with reading as a child so it made me conscious of signs in my children. James had classic sign of problems, when he got b and d mixed up as well as p and q, also words that he should have known like “the” & “and” were a guess. I was looking for a program for him that would focus on dyslexics. The school programs focused on the whole word approach that the bigger class was learning but now James was just in a smaller group. I felt that you can’t do the same thing and expect a different outcome. Easyread seemed worth a try because it didn’t require me second guessing myself. Plenty of research had been done on how dyslexics learn and after the 10 free lessons I could see the light switch turn on for James.

I listen to him read a normal book now and I well up with tears, I see him beam with confidence and pride. I think he surprises himself sometimes. He often says “I can’t believe I just read that.”

Congratulations once again to all our Easyreaders and I can’t wait to share your big celebratory moments on the blog over the next coming months!

- Maddie

 

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Thank you, thank you.

“So – we’ve finished lesson 223! I’m writing to say that I’ll take responsibility for Sebastian’s use of the helicopter.

I also want to thank you for everything. I’m so happy to have found Easyread; in the past 6 months there has been a tremendous improvement in Seb’s reading, and I believe most of that is because of your program. We love the games and stories, and I’m also just so grateful for your positive, creative approach to learning. The spy theme running through the program, including the gear arriving in the mail, has been so exciting for Sebastian. I’ve also appreciated the personal letters for him.

Thank you, thank you. I will tell everyone I know about this wonderful program.”

A happy parent and a happy team.

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Christmas Writing Competition

We thought we’d offer everyone another chance to have their story appear in our Easyread library with a new, feel-good festive book: Christmas Tales.

We’re looking for stories to warm the heart during the winter season (or keep you extra toasty if you’re writing from the other side of the world!) You can either choose to base your holiday tale on the Easyread characters, or let your imagination run wild and send us a cheery Christmas story based on your very own protagonists.

The prizes this time will be:

  • See your winning holiday story become part of our new Christmas Tales book in the Easyread library
  • A copy of the new Inside Out DVD
  • And of course, some chocolaty goodies

We will be accepting entries from now until Tuesday the 15th of December, midnight (UK time). The three winners will be announced on Wednesday the 16th of December at 4pm (UK time).

Send your entries to support@easyreadsystem.com.

Please note: you must be either a current or past learner on the Easyread programme to enter.

Good luck!!

I'm writing.

I’m incredibly busy writing my story for the Easyread competition.

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James says goodbye to tears at reading time

Before joining Easyread, James had tried other phonics programmes like Hooked on Phonics. However, his mother was finding that he was still guessing at words. Guessing seemed to work for James sometimes, but at other times when the words would reappear, it would seem as though he’d never seen them before. It was much easier for James to read the words in isolation than in sentences within a story. And he definitely used the pictures to “read” the word of a story.

Seven months later, and James has finished with the Easyread programme. He has transformed from a reluctant reader, who would protest and even cry when it was time to read, to a ready and confident child who looks forward to reading time.

We spoke with his mother to find out more about James’s Easyread journey.

What was reading like for James before Easyread?

Before Easyread it was a struggle to even have James try to read. He would put up a fight and even cry. He was so frustrated and tired of trying.

What was James’s favourite part of the lessons? And his least favourite?

His favorite part of the program was playing the games. Fighter Mission and Letter Quest were his absolute favorites. His least favorite part was the typing exercise.

Fighter Mission

Fighter Mission

Letter Quest

Letter Quest

When did you start to notice things changing?

I actually noticed a change immediately. Mostly, his attitude changed. He looked forward to reading and wanted to log on more than once a day. His reading skills began to change after the first 2 weeks and began steadily improving.

What’s James reading now? Is he writing lots? How is spelling?

James reads “BOB Books” for easy practice and “Scholastic Readers” for more of a challenge. But he reads every sign, label, or billboard he sees. He practices writing sentences and can spell pretty well but still needs practice.

BOB

What has the Easyread programme meant for you?

Easyread has meant the world to me. It is so heartbreaking to see a gifted child struggle so much with reading that he would rather give up, than to try even one more time.
Easyread was our miracle. He enjoyed it so much that he couldn’t wait to complete the lessons. It restored his confidence and allowed him to overcome.

Thank you so much for the work you do!

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Case study: Mark’s journey from phonics troubles to Gangsta Granny fan

Mark enrolled on the Easyread programme at the age of 11. A difficulty in understanding phonics meant that both his reading and spelling were affected.

Mark would often miss words out and replace them with substitute words. For example, “in” or “the” would often become something else. His struggles with reading meant that he often found it hard to comprehend what he was reading. When he would read with his parents, Mark would find it upsetting when his parents corrected his mistakes.

Fast forward four and a half months and Mark has finished with the Easyread programme. A change in tactics for learning to decode phonetically brought about big changes for Mark’s reading in under 30 lessons. After having changed the focus to work more on his spelling, Mark now sadly says goodbye to Easyread (he did really say he was sad to not be logging in to complete his daily lesson anymore!) and his reading and spelling skills continue to grow with the greater variety in reading material he now enjoys.

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We caught up with Mark on Skype to hear all about his Easyread journey for ourselves.

Do you remember what reading was like before Easyread, Mark?

Really hard. I struggled working out the words. Before Easyread, I wouldn’t read out loud to anyone. Phonics were hard – I just remember reading books at school when I was younger and that’s how we learnt to read. And I was really bad at spellings.

What was your favourite part of the lessons? Least favourite?

I enjoyed doing the games – matching the words to the pictures. I like Gloop a lot. And the Alice in Wonderland book. I then saw it a few weeks later in the theatre actually.

The riddles were the hardest with just the characters. I’d think, “oooh, was it right? Wasn’t it?” and then you’d click on it and you were right all along!

I don’t really have a least favourite part – I liked all of it. I do admit Pinball is hard but it’s always good to have a challenge.

When did you start to notice things changing?

About two/three weeks after I started Easyread. I started reading more frequently and it became a lot easier for me. After I finished Easyread, I read to my mum and she could see a massive difference in my reading.

What books are you reading now? And how is spelling feeling for you?

Before I started Easyread I was in the middle of the Shouty Kid books. I just finished the first one about a month ago. I’m now on the second one. I’ve read all the David Walliams books too – they’re all amazing! I’m getting the new one for Christmas. Now, I try to read 15 minutes a day if I can.

Spelling became a lot easier but still it’s hard. I still struggle with spellings. We have weekly spelling practise at school, with tricky words like “claustrophobic”. Although, I did get 100% on the spelling test with “claustrophobic” in…!

So what’s your secret?

Now I try and visualise the Easyread characters above a word to try and spell it. I try and listen to the sounds of the words and break them up. Sometimes silent letters are really annoying. You never hear them but they’re always there.

The best words are the words that are easy to spell, like “betrayed” – you can hear every letter in it. The ones you can definitely tell what’s what.

I have a rhyme to help me remember some tricky words, like “people” and “because”.

What has the Easyread programme meant for you?

It’s definitely helped me a lot.

Now I’ve got a bit more confident. I’m more confident to volunteer to read out loud at school, but I do still shy away sometimes. But with the code with the letters [the Trainertext alphabet], I started pretending they were all there and tried to visualise them all being there and that really helped [when reading books outside of the programme].

It improved my knowledge of the reading basics that I didn’t learn at school. It helped me with my reading which helped me with my confidence and I became better at reading.

What are your favourite subjects at school?

I like music and drama.

So I guess reading has helped a lot with that?

It has. In drama club I’m doing a play and I’ve got to read and learn a script. I’m much more confident now in saying my lines. Before, everyone was saying that what I was saying was wrong.

It’s confusing when you don’t know what you’re doing and when you don’t understand. But it’s much better when you do.

Thanks Mark! I think that analogy sums up the way most people who struggle with reading feel.

Mark now goes on to play Simba in his school drama club’s new musical, and we look forward to hearing how he gets on! He’s also going to send us a book review of his favourite David Walliams book, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

- Maddie

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