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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Free Reading

by
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 07, 2013 by Teacher Education
Overview: A free, open source, curriculum program that focuses on reading in the primary grades, with special emphasis on K-1. According to the web site: "Commencing in the 2008-2009 school year, teachers and districts within Florida are using FreeReading’s Intervention A program as an approved intervention tool – and redirecting their valuable curriculum dollars to other areas." However, since the materials are open source they are available to all teachers. The site contains lesson materials, teaching tips, and resources to help with direct instruction.
Learning Goals: The lessons assist teachers to help students with basic learning skills: • Phonological Awareness: Students learn to blend and segment the sounds in spoken words. • Letter Sounds: Students learn to say the most common sounds for printed letters. • Letter Writing: Students learn the correct way to write letters. • Sounding Out: Students learn to produce and blend the letter-sound patterns in written words. For the first time, they read. • Word-Form Recognition: Students learn to read written words without sounding them out. (Some educators refer to these words as “sight words.”) • Irregular Words: Students learn to read high-frequency irregular words such as the and was by sight. • Reading Connected Text: Students learn to read their first stories. • Letter Combinations: Students learn to say the most common sounds for letter combinations such as sh and oa. • Irregular Words II: Students learn more high-frequency irregular words to read by sight. • Advanced Phonics: Students learn to read words with features such as inflected endings, silent letters, and multiple syllables.
Target Student Population: Grades K-3 content that involves literacy skills
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Teachers must be familiar with the terminology, and must have access to the Internet so they can access materials before the lesson.
Type of Material: Learning object repository
Recommended Uses: Pre-service and in-service teachers of primary grades.
Technical Requirements: Must have computer access, Adobe Acrobat software,and be able to print from the Internet. The books upon which some (but not all) of the materials are based should be purchased, and the details are on the web site. However, the materials could be adapted for any book. Also many of the activities can be adapted to any book.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The materials are Open Source, so teachers can readily download and adapt. The program is extensive, and there are lesson plans for 30 minute, 5 days a week for 40 weeks of instruction. It's easy to utilize the created lessons, materials, and assessments. The site provides examples of use and assessment questions.
Concerns: None. It is a program that comprises 40 weeks of instruction, 5 days per week, 30 minutes per day. This may be a lot, but the web site states that the timing is "generous."

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The free learning activities, which can be downloaded, include picture cards. decodable passages, a word list generator, and a tool kit. Faculty can use these and adapt because all materials are released under the Creative Commons license. It is easy to begin using any of the items. Materials are set up by category which enables the instructor to select specific skill sets that need addressing. The materials also include options for introductory, advanced, and second language learners.
Concerns: There are sponsors of the site. For example, there is a link to books on Amazon, and a link to FreeReading resources for printing.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: If the teachers have access to the Internet and a PDF reader and a printer the materials are easy to access. Since the materials are open source they can be adapted for individual needs. The site logically organizes the materials by skill sets (phonics, letter sounding/writing, word-form recognition, sight recognition, etc.). Audio and video components are available to aid the user in how to introduce the material. Users can rate activities once they set up a free account.
Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: Besides the open source content there are materials available for purchase. Since they are not necessary for the program this should not be a problem. There is an advisory board. This is a great open source early literacy program. Items are available for free that offer teachers and parents access 24/7. Tasks can be set up for working at individual pace or as group collaborative. Also included is a discussion/blog area for user collaboration. Included is a guide on how to implement the program over a typical 40-week timespan.