MaxScholar offers a variety of activities for students to improve reading skills with their MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs. R5 has been blessed to have 12 months access to their K-2 program for 3 to 7 year olds, and her reading has just gone from strength to strength.
What is the MaxScholar K-2 Program?
Well, I’m glad you asked! It is a program based on the Orton Gillingham method, well known for its language based, multisensory, sequential, cumulative, cognitive, and flexible approach to learning to read. We had access to both the MaxPhonics and the MaxReading areas of their website, although we focused on the phonics. We used the program on Daddy’s Ipad which was so much better than our first attempts at using it on the main computer, making the MaxPhonics part potentially completely independent.
There are four levels within the MaxPhonics:
Although B5 knew her letters and sounds, I really didn’t feel she was ready to actually learn to read. She had been really struggling with the whole concept of blending and no matter how I explained it, she didn’t really get it. Knowing it could be a developmental thing I decided to leave it alone for a while. Enter MaxPhonics. I began her right at the start with the Pre-K level. This would be revision for her, but I thought, if nothing else, it would give her a bit more time before she was expected to actually read :). There was a choice of particular groups of letters:
or the letter sound songs:
We went through each letter song as well as the lesson for each letter.
The lessons have the exact same format for each lesson. The first part is concerned with the visual letter:
- This is the letter P:
- As in Panda:
- It makes the sound ‘p’:
This short lesson is repeated asking each question for the student to answer out loud. The lesson then moves on to the tactile part, where the student learns how to write the letter:
- Lets learn how to write the letter….first in the sky:
- Let’s see that again in the sand:
- Now you try to write the letter in the sand:
- Now, try writing the letter again (this time the student needs to keep within the lines of the letter):
The next part is the audio section. The child is given nine pictures. When they roll the mouse over the picture a voice tells the student what the picture is (although they are usually fairly self-explanatory):
The child needs to click on each picture that begins with the sound ‘p’:
This is the end of that particular lesson. You are then given the choice to repeat it or move on to the next letter lesson:
Once B5 was confident with all her letters, she did the exercise which came at the end of each letter set and reviews all five letters learnt:
- Type the letter that makes the sound ‘a’ as in apple:
After B5 had completed all the letter sets and the accompanying exercises, she was ready to move onto the next module, which, for no reason I could see, was called Teen. The letter sets are gone through one more time. You are able to skip them but for B5 it was a perfect opportunity to put off the blending required in the exercises which followed.
These exercises were either auditory, sound blending, fluency, sight words or controlled reading. These options can be chosen at any time if more practice on one concept is needed. This was helpful for us when B5 needed to spend a loooong time on blending:
- The first activity was an exact replica of the one shown above, giving the child additional practice at hearing the letter sounds and finding them on the key board (Auditory)
- The next activity was the first blending activity. Only the letters in that set are used and not all of the ‘words’ exist in real life 🙂 (Sound blending)
They became progressively harder/longer:
Each word is blended by the female voice, after which the child has their turn. There is extra practice as the program works its way through all the words again, using electronic flash cards:
- Next was more practice using a graphic which contained all the words (fluency):
The female voice goes first and then asks the child to read as many words as they can in sixty seconds:
It was at this point B5 had her first melt down. She was still really struggling with the whole blending concept and trying to read all those words in a timed environment was very hard for her. So I simply sounded out each word, then said the word and moved on to the next word. For example a – n says an, a – t says at and so on. She just followed along as she could. Each day we went through the whole exercise again, and slowly (very slowly) she began to get the idea that it was the sounds of each letter which builds up the sounds of each word.
- The next activity was learning some sight words. These were simple words which needed to be learnt by sight alone, but to be honest I thought they were fairly phonical as well, so I had her sound them out:
- And finally it was reading words in story form. This was very exciting for B5 because she felt like she was reading and suddenly her enthusiasm for this whole program soared!
The story is read to the child first and then the child reads it out loud, sounding out each word. B5 is still struggling, but she is really trying her very best and I can see a light at the end of this reading tunnel.
We have not used it past the Teen module but there are two further modules to cover the Blends module which covers consonant blends and the Digraphs module which covers both digraphs and trigraphs, after which the child can move onto the extra learning about syllables and spelling rules.
Our thoughts on MaxPhonics
This is a really, really good program. I can see that B5 has improved in just the short time we have been using it, and I will certainly be continuing to use it. Honestly, I like every thing about it and do not have anything negative to say about MaxPhonics at all. I highly recommend this program.
MaxReader is the second program we had access to through MaxScholar and I have to say, this has not been so successful for us. B5 simply didn’t understand what was being expected of her, and I felt some of the questions were not clear and the answers were sometimes marked wrong when they were right or it wasn’t obvious what answer they were looking for, even for me. I did not want to frustrate her so much that she would not want to use the program at all so I focused only on the phonics side of things until she became a bit more relaxed about the whole program. Just last week I tried her once more on the MaxReading.
We began again at the beginning, level K. B5 was given a picture to study and then questions were asked which she needed to refer to the picture in order to answer correctly:
There are four questions to answer. The last questions shows maybe the obliqueness of the some of the questions:
I’m guessing the men could go for a coffee or they could go and try to keep warm…..
Here is another one:
From the picture it is unclear whether the daughter is asking for something from her mum (as she is clearly looking up at her mum) or whether the mum is asking for something from the grocers.
Also B5 only had one chance to answer the questions which meant if I hadn’t been there to guide her she would have very quickly become disheartened. I think only one chance when you are five could feel like the pressure was on!
Our thoughts on MaxReader
B5 did not enjoy using MaxReader at all, and I have to say I kind of agreed with her. It may have been that we were only using the K program and necessarily there was no actual reading. And whilst I understand that the aim was to improve the child’s comprehension skills by observing the picture, I did not see how it benefited B5 in her reading, especially because it wasn’t always obvious what the answer was, especially for a five-year old.
So whilst we will definitely keep using the MaxPhonics, we probably won’t use the MaxReader until B5 is at the stage of actually reading and we can bypass the answering questions about the picture stage and move onto the reading stage:
By the looks of it, this stage is as thorough and well organised as its phonics counterpart, which we are so enjoying using; we are really looking forward to the day B5 is a reader and can progress using MaxReader!
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