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Curriculum Details for
Thinking Reader

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Practitioner Expert
Content Expert
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Content Expert Reviewer

John Bishop
John Bishop is an advanced doctoral student at the University of Georgia in the Department of Language and Literacy Education. His research includes examining literacy practices in afterschool web-based youth communities.


  • This review is based upon the Thinking Reader curriculum for Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.
  • Students can interact with the software in various ways, creating compelling structures through which learners can engage the content.
  • Students can interact and dialogue with teachers through the software.


Academic Skills
  • Reading comprehension skills
  • Seven strategies: summarizing, questioning, clarifying, predicting, visualizing, feeling, and reflecting
Study Skills
  • Use of “work log” to track progress
Non-Academic Skills
  • Computer navigation
  • Social and peer skills (through teacher-student conferencing, peer interaction, and whole group discussions)
  • Self-reflection and self-assessment

Alignment to Standards

Learning objectives for this title were aligned with four IRA/NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English) Standards for English Language Arts (Standards 1, 2, 3, and 11). The curriculum covers the first three most thoroughly.


  • Student work logs demonstrate progression of student thinking. Rubrics for these logs allow teachers to assess progress on the seven specific comprehension strategies.
  • Using results of comprehension quizzes, teachers can assess student recall of information and adjust individual leveling within the program.
  • Student-teacher conferencing, where teachers discuss various questions encourage students to reflect on their own progress.


  • Thinking Reader is a moderately structured curriculum.  For example, a student has to perform on a certain level on information recall quizzes in order to move to higher-order thinking questions.
  • There are multiple opportunities for teachers and students to flexibly direct student learning towards individual needs.
  • Structure can range from a student-managed approach to a teacher-led facilitation of the program.
  • Students can dictate their own areas of strength and weakness.
  • Content is somewhat pre-defined. There are opportunities to respond in many different ways to the literature, and to evaluate which strategies each student should focus on.

Addressing Diverse Student Needs

  • Teachers can choose appropriate levels for students to engage with the software.
  • Opportunity to foreground numerous strategies that scaffold cognitive development in a variety of ways.
  • Physical needs of students can be met by increasing font size, speed of reading, and contrast of text.
Developmental level
  • Well tailored to the developmental needs of the middle school age group.
  • Skills developed are appropriate for age level.
Learning Styles Addressed
  • Interpersonal learning: Teacher conferencing, peer conferencing, and other group work opportunities.
  • Artistic learning: Opportunities for students to respond to literature using illustration.
  • Several ethnic perspectives and time periods are represented in the selection of literature offered.
  • Opportunities for students to respond and share personal reactions and connections with literature provide chances to foster a diverse learning community.
  • Software can translate materials for native Spanish speakers.

Strengths and Challenges

Strongest Features
  • 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 and Drawbacks
  • Students cannot respond and interact dialogically through the software program itself.
  • Writing and speaking are the only modes for students to articulate their thinking.

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