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Capstone Digital Launches Reading Platform for K-8 Students

Educational developer Capstone Digital has launched myON Reader, an online reading platform aimed at students in grades K through 8, as well as remedial readers, that offers direct access to more than 1,000 online children's books from Capstone Publishing and its imprints. The company announced the launch at this week's FETC 2011 conference in Orlando, FL.

Students, parents, and teachers can customize the platform for each individual reader, building a user profile according to the student's interests and reading ability. Once completed, the profile allows the platform to recommend a new book, one that will engage the student while building reading skills, whenever he or she wishes.

"In Orange County, our goal is to continue to motivate students to 'read for the love of reading,'" said Katrina Summerville, program specialist for NCLB services at Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, FL. "Through research and observation, it is noted that children who become more engrossed in reading construct a foundation that teachers can build upon. Exposure to myON reader has engaged and inspired our 21st century learners to expand their knowledge through digital exploration."

To ensure each recommended book is a good fit for the reader, Capstone has embedded assessments into the platform based on the Lexile Framework for Reading from MetaMetrics. A preliminary assessment and periodic benchmark assessments determine a child's Lexile range, from which the platform can automatically update his or her profile and recommend books whose content fits within this range. Additionally, a user can rate each completed book, and the platform can streamline new recommendations based on the collected ratings. And finally, users can update their profiles manually according to changes in topics of interest.

"I have a huge variety of reading levels, from remedial to eighth-grade levels. And it can be difficult to get each student on the right level when you have a whole class with such a broad range," said Brooke Kasbaum, who teaches first and second grades at Moore Elementary in Broken Arrow, OK and trains teachers to use myON Reader. "This really saves on time and time management." She explained that, instead of testing one student's verbal skills at a time and then determining his or her correct reading level, all the while busying the rest of the class with work that doesn't require her input, the built-in Lexile assessments and the recommendations that result free her up to focus on other work and, more importantly, personalized attention to students.

What makes Kasbaum even more enthusiastic about the platform, though, is its comprehensiveness in gathering and analyzing information to get every child reading at the right level. "My top readers, it pushes them to books that may even be a bit advanced for their level. It gets them further immersed, [motivating] them to explore new authors and new styles, such as graphic novels, and driving them to Web sites where they can e-mail the authors, etc. And it helps with all levels to help them decide what books they want to check out of the library."

Additionally, for lower-level readers--and with first- and second-graders--because the platform offers a voice feature that will read "out loud" the words on the page, these students learn how to say the words and relate them to pictures and to the context, which substantially builds reading comprehension.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.