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In EdSurge Case Studies, educators share their real-life experiences with edtech in their schools and classrooms.
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Kindergarten teacher, California
1:1 devices, Special education students, High ELL population, and Low income population

I was searching for a digital product that teaches phonics but is not a game. Games are
cute, but they do not replace a curriculum. The core ELA program I use is good, but its
phonics component is lacking. I was searching for a phonics program that is
comprehensive, easy to use and is not distracting. A comprehensive program should
take kiddos from letter recognition through blending words and sentences. If it includes
handwriting and spelling, that would be a big plus. A digital program should solve more
problems than it creates. And most importantly: it should teach, not distract. I was not
looking for a program that “keeps kids busy.” Instead, I was searching for a program
that enables me to instruct all my students in phonics, allows students to progress at
their own pace, and give me data to monitor progress. My colleagues and I searched
for various solutions but we had trouble finding a program that includes all three
components: comprehensive content, easy to use, and most importantly: a curriculum,
and not a game.

Product Use: The process of teaching kids to read is more complicated than singing the ABC song
and teaching letter identification. It is a detailed and lengthy process. When I began
using CAPIT Reading I quickly realized that my role as an instructor will shift: I “model”
a lesson and the app takes care of the details. Here is how it works. Each student
receives their own user account (which I set up using the Teacher Portal). I also created
an account for myself. Each day I would log into my teacher account and project my
device on my Smart Board. I then started a CAPIT lesson and completed it together
with my students. They especially enjoy when I call them up to complete various
exercises. This entire “teach by example” or “demo” process takes a few minutes, and
once my demo lesson is over the students take their own device and complete lessons
on their own (shared devices are OK). I still try to “model” lessons as much as I can, but
once my students understood how the program works, they became more independent
and I was able to model less. Students all progressed at their own pace.

What Worked and What Didn't: Three things about CAPIT stand out. First, the CAPIT app teaches students to read
without communicating with the students. This was new to me. How can reading skills
be taught without “verbal instructions”? The creators of CAPIT somehow figured this
out, and I am glad they did because now my ELL students are learning to read using the
exact same app as their classmates. Second, and the part that my kids noticed first, are
the mnemonics the app uses to teach the sounds of each letter. The mnemonics are
spot on. For example, CAPIT uses a Saxophone to teach the letter “s” because the
word “saxophone” begins with the sound /s/ and looks like the letters “s.” It turns out to
be a much better image than the “snake” because snakes don’t usually look like the
letter “s.” Third: CAPIT lessons are sequenced in a kind of logic that enables students to
keep track of what they have achieved, their weaknesses, and their goals. That being
said, many of my students struggled to complete some exercises because they couldn’t
clearly identify or “hear” the sounds in the app. Purchasing over-the-ear headphones for
every child solved this problem and is definitely a must when using this program.

Age Group: Elementary school students

May 19, 2017 Provide Feedback
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