The Sounding Out Machine – Assistive Reading Device by FizzBrain is a brilliant new app. It helps children focus on hard words for them when reading, and then models/teaches them how to sound out those difficult words.
Even before preschool, a child with an enriched environment is being exposed to skills needed for reading readiness, best practices in preschool involve many components for teaching students how to get ready to read. Storytelling, print and book awareness, playing with words as in rhyming, clapping or stomping out syllables are all great ways to get the ball rolling. Teachers then model individual phonemes and teach kids how to chunk and blend words using an array of phonics skills to help set the stage. The Sounding Out Machine is an ideal tool for those students that don’t grasp the concepts right away and continue to struggle with what is known as “decoding”.
Children of all ages can use The Sounding Out Machine to help decode tricky or challenging words by using a customizable card to isolate and enlarge an unfamiliar word. The app then models how to chunk the word into syllables and use phonics skills to blend the phonemes together and sound out the word.
•Camera mode – take a snapshot of the book page.
•Library mode – load in page snapshots from the photo library.
•Typing mode – type in challenging words.
TRACKING STUDENT WORK
The Sounding Out Machine emails a report of your child/students challenging words to parents or teachers giving an account of words looked up each session and this list and can be used for data collection, further instruction, reteaching, or for creating personal word lists for their students or child. TWA loves the customizable digital card/box for tracking the text as they read, in the same way they might use an index card or the old-fashioned E.Z.C Reading Strips to concentrate on each word or a line of text. FizzBrain has made this card/box simple to customize by giving choices of multiple colors, sizes and shapes that easily adjust to fit the given font size. Another cool feature is that the keyboard is a snap to switch from qwerty or ABC-order keyboard.
This app has a comprehensive dictionary of over 80,000 words, including multiple forms for each root, (“reply” “replies” “replying”) and names (“Huggins,” “Lorax”). Fizzbrain will continue to expand the dictionary, it already has with several suggests from TWA. Let them know if you find a word that should be included!
THE BACK STORY:
David Cort – FizzBrain I remember sitting with a student some years ago, a student who has dyslexia. I was coaching her in using her index card to figure out a difficult word. She grew increasingly frustrated, and finally told me, “Mr. Cort, I’m trying to use my card, but when I look at the page it just looks like a sea of words!” That’s when I decided to make an app to help her, an app that became “The Sounding Out Machine – Assistive Reading Device.”
My first goal was to help her get through the “sea of words” so she could focus on her challenging word. I made an app that allows students to snap a photo of their book page. Then I created a “word window” – a box that readers can place around a difficult word. Once boxed, the app isolates and enlarges the difficult word so a student can see it clearly and work on sounding it out, without the distraction of hundreds of other words.
My next goal was to create a “second teacher” – a digital guide to model how to chunk the difficult word into syllables and sound it out. In place of an index card, which was difficult for some students to manipulate, I created a digital card. This digital card mimics an index card by sliding across a word, phonogram by phonogram, blending the sounds together to build each syllable, using Blended Phonics. Later, I added a Synthetic Phonics option as well. Students can watch the app model how to chunk and sound out their word as many times as they like – and then students can practice on their own, with their own digital word card.
The result of these efforts was “The Sounding Out Machine” – the first Assistive Reading Device (or ARD). The ARD performs a role analogous to Augmentative Alternative Communication devices. In the same way AACs turn a child’s iPad into a communication device, the ARD turns the iPad into a reading assistant. It supports children reading paper books or eBooks in the classroom or at home.
For children with reading difficulties or learning disabilities like dyslexia, the device helps isolate and focus on a challenging word – when a book page can seem like a “sea of words.” And for all children, the device models how to chunk difficult words into syllables and sound them out, just as a teacher would. David Cort – FizzBrain