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Curriculum Details for
Thinking Reader

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Practitioner Expert
Content Expert
Thinking Reader
Publication Date: 2004
Grade Level: K–8
Content Focus: Literacy/Language Arts
Costs: $250 - $1000
The costs shown were accurate at the time of the review. Please check the publisher's web site for current prices.
Developer Contact Information
Tom Snyder Productions
100 Talcott Ave
Watertown, MA, 02472

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Design Summary

The primary goal of Thinking Reader is to help struggling readers improve their reading comprehension through the use of reading strategies.  It is a school-based program that can be adapted for afterschool. The curriculum offers built-in reading supports and is multi-sensory.  The books used in Thinking Reader are unabridged versions of nine different award-winning novels – converted to digital text.  The software can read books aloud to students, define words, and give hints and support for text comprehension. A work log is also offered to students, allowing them to track their progress and success.

When students use Thinking Reader, the story stops every three pages or so, and prompts students to connect the book to their own lives and interests.  The curriculum offers five levels of difficulty for each book, requires little knowledge of computers, and is universally accessible to those hearing and visually impaired.

Costs and Staff Training

One computer license for one book costs $250, and with ten additional computer licenses, it costs $1,000.  An Unlimited Site License costs $2,200 per title.  Discounts are available for large volume orders, and the developers have a grant funding guide for those who are interested. 

Training is not required but is available on-site at a cost of $2,000 for a full-day workshop.  Half-day workshops are also available. The teachers guide included with the curriculum has many training related materials.

Staff Qualifications

Formal teaching experience is not required, as the self-directed nature of Thinking Reader allows a child to work on his or her own.  Content expert reviews suggest that knowledge of cognitive and developmental theories, as well as reciprocal teaching approaches and reading comprehension strategies, would increase the effectiveness of the program.  Also needed are basic skills in navigating computer software and setting up databases.

Standards Alignment

  • National: Developers report that the material aligns to national standards, though none are specified.
  • State: Developers report that the material aligns to several state standards, though none are specified.

Research Base

This program is based on reciprocal teaching, using five reading strategies: summarizing, visualizing, predicting, questioning, and clarifying. Thinking Reader added reflecting and feeling. The program is also based on the research at Dr. David Rose’s research at CAST (Center for Applied Special Technologies).

Evaluation Details

CAST's prototype, the basis of Thinking Reader, was evaluated by Dr. Bridget Dalton at the Harvard Graduate School of Education using a standard reading test called the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Achievement Test.

Overall Strengths/Overall Challenges

  • Engaging for students, most are eager to use the program.
  • Teaches fluency, reading strategies, and enthusiasm for reading
  • Can adjust difficulty levels according to student needs and ability.
  • Multiple types of interaction and meaning-making opportunities with the text
  • Opportunities for students and teachers to dialogue together using both written comments through software interface and direct face-to-face interactions.
  • High quality and diverse selection of literature.
Challenges :
  • Students cannot respond and interact dialogically through the software program itself.
  • Strategies for English language learners only cover those who speak Spanish.
  • Writing and speaking are the only modes for students to articulate their thinking.
  • Requires reliable computer network system and in-house tech support.

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