To read it to me or not to read it to me 2


Today is one of my house-keeping days on the game. In the digital equivalent of dusting, I look over each page, fix any spelling or grammatical errors that may have gone uncaught, adjust margins to make the math problems more readable and other general appearance tasks to improve the instructional resources.

Many of our pages have a “read it to me” link at the top. A player can click on that link and hear the page read to him or her.

We wanted to make the pages accessible to students who may have a learning disability, are limited in English proficiency or for other reasons have trouble reading. Now that I think of it, I should probably change that link to a button to make it easier for poor readers to identify.

That’s not my question, though. My question is what your opinion is on the electronic reading. By this, I don’t mean reading on electronic devices like a Kindle, but rather, having an electronic device read to a student.

kid reading

Years ago, I recall reading a study that said books on tape were no substitute for having a parent read to a child. The authors said that real people interact with a child learning to read, answer questions, respond to a child’s comments.

Our intent is that students will be able to click on the “read it to me” link and have the text read to them, but the page does not advance until the child clicks on the next arrow. (Clicking on the link plays a sound file of one of our staff members reading the page.) Thus, they can read the page at their own pace after having it read to them.

But will they?

For many, many years, my children attended bilingual mass at St. Anne’s Catholic Church because it is at 6 pm and I don’t do mornings. Sometimes, we would have a visiting priest who would say everything in Spanish and then say it over again in English. (That’s not how bilingual mass is supposed to be.) Not only did that make mass twice as long, but I noticed that the kids would just tune out on the Spanish part and wait until he said it in English.

I’m wondering if having the read-it-to-me option available on every page might have that effect. Right now, only some of the pages have that option and other pages do not. If students have the option to just have all of the pages read to them, will they not bother trying to read them?

We could compare students’ performance on the quizzes when they have the read-it option and when they don’t, but that isn’t a perfect solution because the material on the quizzes is not identical. For example, the pages before the quiz on adding fractions with like denominators might have the read-it-to-me option while the pages before the quiz on adding fractions with unlike denominators do not.

In theory, I could create two versions of the game, randomly assign students to play one or the other and compare the results. In reality, I have a lot of changes and additions to make to the game, so unless someone drops a stack of cash on me to pay for this controlled experiment, it’s not happening any time in the near future.

Instead, I am crowd-sourcing the answer, which sounds so  much better than that I am asking random people on the Internet. The question is:

Should we have the option for students to have the page read to them

  • On all of the pages
  • On none of the pages
  • On some of the pages

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2 thoughts on “To read it to me or not to read it to me

  • Melissa Pontello

    Yes because it’s better to help some not at all. To many children that are disabled. My kids that don’t care aren’t going to bother anyway. Yes provide the option for DISABLED children.

  • Al Stover

    I think you should keep option to have the pages read, on all of the pages. Every child is different. Some will probably not bother reading the text while others will just read the text and not focus on the voice. Some kids will probably read the words themselves and then listen to the electronic voice to make sure it matches or that they didn’t miss something.