Sight Words DVD a Huge Success

For the last few years at Rock ‘N Learn, we’ve had requests from our retailers and customers for a DVD to help children learn to read sight words. Because sight words are the most common words used in the English language, knowing them automatically can improve reading skills.

I’m pleased that last month we introduced the new Rock ‘N Learn Sight Words DVD that covers over 60 sight words. It’s been our most successful new product launch ever.

To create Sight Words DVD, we consulted with a team of four teachers, collectively having over 50 years classroom experience (both with regular students as well as students with remedial and special needs). These teachers have discovered what works and doesn’t, and they’ve had the benefit of many hours of workshop training in effective reading instruction.

Our education specialty retailers also provided suggestions on what they and their customers wanted to see in a sight words DVD, including flaws they saw with existing DVDs. The two recommendations we heard most were: 1) don’t make it boring, and 2) don’t make it confusing.

Addressing the first recommendation, we wrote fun songs and humorous dialogue combined with fun, engaging characters. It’s some of our best music and animation ever. We tested sections with children to make certain the DVD would hold interest and encourage kids to read along. We also ran scripts and video past our educational consultants and listened their suggestions for improvement.

Now, about their advice, “Don’t make it confusing,” our retailers said that the top complaint with some sight words DVDs is that the words are arranged to picture objects that have nothing to do with the words being taught. That may help kids attend to the shape of the word, but it’s also highly confusing. Learning to read is similar to learning a new language. Imagine if you were learning a new language and the word for “table” looked like a fish.

Rock ‘N Learn Sight Words presents the words in a way that makes sense in context. For example, if students are learning “up” and “down,” they see the characters going up and down.

Below is a video example of Rock ‘N Learn Sight Words DVD:

Sight Words Example

What do you think about Rock ‘N Learn’s new Sight Words DVD?

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Videos and Interactive Whiteboards Boost Student Engagement

Students have always enjoyed watching video clips as a break from traditional lectures. Recent studies show that videos boost student engagement and test scores. However, some educators worry that videos only promote passive learning. The emergence of interactive white boards in schools has given videos a new benefit—the ability to write on freeze-framed shots using a large screen format.

Noting this trend, Rock ‘N Learn offers 32 videos accredited with the SMART Standard Compatible Content seal. These programs can be played on Smart Boards or any other interactive whiteboard hooked up to a computer or DVD player. Teachers love the clear visuals and ample opportunities for class participation that Rock ’N Learn videos provide. According to one teacher, “The Smart Board allows my class to share ideas while we watch clips from Rock ’N Learns Writing Strategies DVD during essay workshops.”

Another teacher writes, “I love using Rock ’N Learn’s science videos in my classroom. The animation and illustrations make difficult concepts easier for students to grasp.  They even have a few interactive diagrams accessible from the SMART Exchange.”

And a reviewer for the 2011 Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award stated, “ My kids loved watching Phonics Vol. 1 and singing to the music. They were also interacting with the DVD when the announcer invited the children to participate… It’s a bonus that the DVD includes read along stories and free access to online worksheets that support each skill.”

At Rock ‘N Learn, we’re thrilled to participate in the interactive trend that is changing the way students learn. We’re hearing about amazing results in the classroom with our videos and our new iPad apps.

Please share your thoughts.

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iPad Apps for Learning to Read – A Surprising Benefit

We recently completed four new iPad apps – exciting for us at Rock ‘N Learn! These iPad apps help students learn to read. And we’ve lowered the price of each app to make them super affordable.

Our four iPad apps help kids practice stories that build in complexity based on a logical sequence of phonics rules. They are perfect for young children just starting to read or older students still struggling to build their reading skills. Later, I’ll tell you about an unexpected benefit of these apps for learning to read that surprised even our developers.

Our first iPad app, Phonics Easy Reader 1, provides practice reading stories having simple sentences with short vowels, consonant-vowel-consonant CVC words, common word endings, and words ending in s and plural s. The second iPad app, Phonics Easy Reader 2, lets kids practice reading sentences with consonant blends, consonant digraphs, and silent e to make long vowel sounds. The third iPad app, Phonics Easy Reader 3, allows students to practice reading words with long vowels and r-controlled vowels.

Our fourth iPad app, Phonics Easy Reader 4, provides practice reading stories with more complex sentences that incorporate words with diphthongs – sometimes called gliding vowels because they have two adjacent vowel sounds in the same syllable, such as in words like “boy” or “cow.” This app also covers other vowels sounds along with words having multiple syllables, ending sounds, and silent consonants.

These apps also include words that cannot be sounded phonetically – memory words – at the beginning of each story.

To use the apps, learners have the choice of having each story read to them or trying to read the stories for themselves. Here’s where the fun kicks in:

The unexpected benefit is that because learners can touch any word to hear how it is supposed to be read, they can also touch words out of sequence to make up their own sentences. And these can be a little ridiculous or slightly nonsensical – lots of fun for kids learning to read.

Why is this a benefit? Too often, struggling readers are given the most mindless tasks during reading. It’s boring for them (and boring for their instructors). The best phonics instruction occurs within the context of helping children think with text. But it’s difficult to get beyond boring activities that essentially involve memory work. Students lack the skills to compose and write down their own stories or sentences when they are still learning to read basic words.

Our initial testing of these apps with students confirms that our Phonics Easy Reader iPad apps encourage kids to apply skills at a very basic level. By touching words out of sequence, students begin to form new sentences – even if they tend to be silly sentences. That’s fun, and kids like having fun! With regular print material, you frequently wonder whether a child starting to read is just memorizing text and not actually reading. These iPad apps make reading a fun, interactive process at the most basic level. Kids learn new words and get practice reading them in stories and also combining these words to form new sentences.

What are your thoughts about the potential for iPad apps to help kids learn to read?

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Lisa Zins Wins!

Congratulations to Lisa Zins, winner of Rock ‘N Learn’s Ultimate DVD Collection Giveaway. Lisa’s name was selected randomly from our contest entries. The Ultimate DVD Collection contains just about every DVD Rock ‘N Learn publishes and includes videos for preschool, reading, math, science, Spanish, and test-taking skills. When contacted, here’s what our winner had to say:

“Wow!! I am ecstatic!!! This is the first prize I’ve ever won! I just checked out all of the DVDs included, and I can’t wait to receive them!!! My daughter, Reagan, will be thrilled as well! She is a 6-year-old who LOVES to learn and will truly enjoy all of the DVDs. She can read at a 4th grade level and loves learning new things! We are so blessed by God to have her! We adopted her and took her home from the hospital when she was 2 days old. Ever since she’s brightened our life and the lives of all she comes in contact with!  She will be thrilled with the plethora of new topics to grow in and learn about. When I taught 1st & 2nd grade in the early to mid 90′s, I used the cassette tape of Addition & Subtraction Rap with my class. I recently purchased the new DVD for my daughter. Our whole family sings & dances to Addition & Subtraction Rap! What a blessing!”

Lisa, thank you so much for entering our contest, being our winner, and allowing us to share your response. And to everyone else… watch for more giveaways from Rock ‘N Learn!

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9 Reasons Tablet Computing Will Revolutionize Education

Rock ‘N Learn got our first iPad when it debuted in the U.S. on April 3, 2010. I was so excited that I posted a YouTube video that afternoon showing the possibilities for the iPad and education. My YouTube video has received over 9,000 views—not exactly going viral (I didn’t smash or blend it) but definitely generating interest. I discussed some of the reasons why tablet computing could change how we educate students: Continue reading

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Rock ‘N Learn for all students?

We’ve received some remarkable success stories of schools that purchased one or more of our audio or DVD titles for an entire grade at particular schools. Test scores went way up. If you are a teacher or school official, give Rock ‘N Learn a call about bulk discounts when you order for a large group. We can make our multimedia programs affordable for large group purchases. And, if there is a school supply specialty store in your area, we will gladly work with them to include them in the sale. (After all, our it’s our educational specialty retailers who have helped make us a thriving supplemental materials company ready to celebrate 24 years.)

Eventually, I think that supplemental programs and perhaps textbooks will be delivered by electronic mobile devices that each student takes home. For now, just about all kids have access to a DVD player at home. So, call Kathie, Michelle, or me (Richard) at 1-800-348-8445 to discuss gigantic bulk discounts when you want to make Rock ‘N Learn available to a large group of students.

Meanwhile, we continue to work on more educational apps for the iPad here at Rock ‘N Learn, so look for an announcement soon. Exciting times!

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Are kids today too distracted to learn?

There’s no question that kids have many interruptions these days with TV, computers, video games, cell phones, texting, and social media. Is this all bad?

Research is just being published showing the negative effects of social media distractions. One report finds that college students get 20 percent lower grades when they use social media while studying compared to those that don’t. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean a direct cause. Maybe those who are less dedicated are just more susceptible to distracting activities and procrastination, as the authors of one study point out. Continue reading

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Videos for Phonemic and Phonological Awareness

I recently asked Melissa Caudle to help me better understand the terms phonemic awareness and phonological awareness, specifically as they relate to Rock ‘N Learn Letter Sounds and Phonics DVDs. Melissa is my sister-in-law and also chief script writer at Rock ‘N Learn. She’s a former elementary education teacher who taught second graders and also worked in remedial reading. Here’s what she told me:

Phonics is a method of teaching beginners to read by showing them the relationship between letters and their sounds. Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to hear and tell the differences between words, sounds, and syllables. When developing phonemic awareness, learners come to understand the relationships between sounds. They also learn to alter or rearrange sounds to create new words. Continue reading

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3 Suggestions for When Your Child Needs Extra Help in School

You have to be careful with the question, “Does my child need extra help in school?” We know that children mature at different rates. You don’t want to make a big deal out of something that soon may take care of itself. Continue reading

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Fred Dias Wins Rock ‘N Learn’s Third iPad Giveaway

Fred Dias, science teacher

Fred Dias, science teacher

Congratulations to our most recent iPad winner, Fred Dias. On October 1, Brad Caudle, Rock ‘N Learn VP, used a random number generator to select the winner from almost 5000 entries. Fred is a teacher at Deerfield Beach Middle School in Deerfield Beach, Florida. This is Fred’s seventh year to teach science to 7th and 8th graders. Prior to teaching, Fred was a business coach and consultant who felt the calling to teach science to kids. Wow. We couldn’t be more pleased to have someone win our contest with Fred’s dedication and commitment to making a difference through education. Continue reading

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