Ramps to Reading Overview|
Ramps to ReadingTM helps early readers by introducing them to engaging educational activities in a safe, age-appropriate online world. The creators designed and developed Ramps to ReadingTM specifically for learners 4-7 years old. As in SkateKidsTM, the scaffolding (support) in the Ramps to ReadingTM activities accomplishes three important things: it teaches these young l earners to reflect on their behavior; provides immediate feedback on their performance; and prompts them to consider alternative strategies.
Ramps to ReadingTM takes learners from initial pre-literacy levels to basic word reading and comprehension; they acquire skills in a developmentally appropriate sequence, moving to higher levels only after prerequisite skills are mastered. Scientifically-based methods of cognitive processing instruction and basic skill development are embedded in engaging, interactive programs. Children develop a true mastery of skills that can be applied and transferred to other academic areas.
One of the key features of the activities in Ramps to ReadingTM, which is true of all of our products, is not only are the activities scientifically designed and clinically proven, but they're also a lot of fun! Inspired by video game design techniques, our programs harness the natural power of game play and engage young learners; kids work harder and longer and achieve greater success because they are immersed in activities that are fun, meaningful and highly effective.
Like SkateKidsTM, Ramps to ReadingTM represents a unique value proposition: research shows that even moderate, regular use of "Ramps" will help pre-kindergarten and early learners get a valuable head start towards becoming higher functioning and more literate students.
The activities in Animal Roundup prompt children to practice inhibiting impulsive responses, which helps improve attention and concentration. These activities presents what is known as a "go/no-go" condition; as various animals appear on the screen, learners must quickly sort and categorize them based on the criteria that were introduced at the beginning of the round. Learning how to make decisions quickly and accurately helps youngsters develop valuable, lifelong learning skills such as focus and selectivity, which can then be applied and transferred to other academic areas. Additionally, because they are instructed to use the arrow keys for sorting the animals, this activity also helps children to develop familiarity with the computer keyboard.
Levels increase in difficulty through the introduction of interference items/actions, such as presenting a large-category animal as a small-category animal. At any age, even good readers can experience difficulty focusing when significant distracters such as classroom/household noise or excessive nearby movement are present. To help learners develop strategies for dealing with these situations, Animal Roundup teaches resistance to distraction, which, like focus and selectivity, is another lifelong learning skill that can be generalized and transferred to any other academic endeavor. Finally, the more difficult levels eventually introduce meta-linguistic demands.
The activities in Desert Dash develop sound-to-symbol matching, successive processing, phonemic awareness, and mapping sounds to letters. They also develop the use of speech as a rehearsal strategy, sound blending, and in later levels, the decoding of short words.
In these activities, learners are presented with a series of phonemes (sounds) at the beginning of each round; they must then collect these sounds and match them with symbols (letters). However, at the time these sounds are played, the learner sees only a question mark, making the task of collecting the symbols of these sounds an interesting challenge for young learners.
To succeed, they must develop successive processing and rehearsal strategies in order to (1) remember the sounds they're looking for; and (2) match those sounds to symbols. In addition, learners must use successive processing strategies to find the sounds in the right order. One-to-one sound-to-symbol mappings are introduced first; later, vowel-consonant and consonant-vowel-consonant sequences are added to the mix.
As learners navigate their bicycle-riding character/avatar through a dangerous desert environment, they must find and collect the letters that represent the sounds they heard earlier. Over the course of their journey, they will also encounter obstacles and distracters, including "environmental" items (logs, holes, trees), and "language" items such as letters that don't match any of the sounds played at the beginning of the round.
Most reading programs approach decoding by starting with the symbols and adding the sounds later. Desert Dash reverses this order, presenting the sounds first and then requiring the child to seek and identify the appropriate symbol (letter). Just as Zoo Adventures pairs animals with objects, Desert Dash pairs sounds with letters/symbols.
The activities in Design-a-Door encourage young learners to shift from successive processing strategies to simultaneous processing through visualization skills, associative strategies, spatial relationships, and mentally creating visual analogues. Design-a-Door begins with an interactive tutorial that teaches children how to use and switch among a variety of tools, including those that can drag, flip, paint and resize stickers. The objective of the tutorial is twofold: (1) help learners gain competency in the dragging and dropping of objects; and (2) allow them to become familiar with all the tools that will be available to them during the activity.
Learners are tasked with reproducing an abstract design on a door after studying that pattern for only ten seconds; they must then mentally recode that pattern in order to recreate it accurately. At the beginning levels, young learners can use successive strategies and still successfully reproduce the designs. However, as the learner progresses to the more advanced levels, successive strategies become unmanageable and learners must shift to a simultaneous strategy.
Successive processing differs from simultaneous processing in that the former describes the sequence of the items, and the latter describes the relationships among the items. Initially, the designs consist of three shapes. As learners progress, the challenges increase in difficulty as extra features such as new colors, different sizes, and rotation are added to the designs.
Simultaneous processes involve "both nonverbal-spatial as well as verbal-grammatical activities" (Naglieri & Das, 1997), and would include activities such as integrating stimuli into groups, or recognizing that a number of stimuli share common characteristics. The Design-a-Door activities also focus on developing spatial abilities, which can be described as "holistic thinking". Simultaneous strategies such as these are useful in a variety of academic activities including reading comprehension, finding themes in poetry, and certain mental math operations.
In Rocket Racer, learners practice keyboarding, employ successive processing, and develop the use of speech as a rehearsal strategy. At the beginning of each round, they are presented with a series of symbols (letters). As letters are introduced, the corresponding sound is played, and the learner has an opportunity to search for the appropriate, matching symbol (letter). Then, they blast off for an exciting trip through space; their mission is to collect those same letters in the correct order. This activity develops working memory and employs successive processing. Additionally, phonics, phonemic awareness, and sound-to-symbol mapping are emphasized as well. While carrying out their mission, learners must also avoid distracters such as non-target letters.
Successive processing strategies are required when de-contextualized items are presented in a serial order (Das, Naglieri, & Kirby, 1994). In Rocket Racer, symbols are presented individually and in a serial order, which requires learners to adopt a successive coding strategy. Poor readers, beginning readers, and dyslexics have trouble managing this type of information (Naglieri & Das, 1997, p. 76). Interventions that focus on developing successive processing skills have been shown to improve reading skills, especially the ability to decode unfamiliar words (Fletcher, 2003).
The activities in Scuba Dude develop successive processing and working memory. They also help young learners become proficient at using a computer mouse. Learners must control the movements of a virtual scuba diver to collect jewels in the same order in which they were introduced at the beginning of the round. They must use successive processing to remember and pick up the correct items in the correct order, paying close attention to differences in color, shape, etc.
Many young children struggle with identifying letters that look similar. Parents and early elementary school teachers are familiar with the difficulty youngsters have in discriminating between letters with common features such as "b" and "d", or "p" and "q". Confusion in the form of letter reversals and rotations is a normal part of emerging literacy; however, Scuba Dude works to correct these problems through a fun and engaging activity that young learners find intrinsically rewarding. During their search for the underwater jewels, children will also encounter obstacles and distracting shapes as part of the seascape. Scuba Dude teaches the youngsters that slight differences between shapes are important, and that it's helpful to pay attention to features differences such as shape and color.
Silly Scenes develops simultaneous processing, oral comprehension, reading comprehension, and spatial and proximity relationships. In this activity, learners listen to passages of increasing syntactic complexity and are then asked to recreate, on the computer, the scene they just heard described. The child may read along with the passages if they wish. Early levels begin with simple noun phrases; longer paragraphs are presented in the later levels. As the passages increase in length and complexity, learners are required to employ oral and reading comprehension strategies.
The activity begins with an interactive tutorial, the objective of which is twofold: (1) help learners gain competency in the dragging and dropping of objects; and (2) allow them to become familiar with the tools that will be available to them during the activity. As the tutorial progresses, learners rehearse the actions they'll need in order to fully participate in the Silly Scenes activities. During the tutorial, audio instructions guide users to each specific tool and action.
With traditional educational activities, measuring and establishing a reading comprehension level can be difficult. However, the activities in Silly Scenes do develop reading comprehension in a measurable way because learners are required to actively demonstrate their comprehension by recreating scenes from passages they heard previously. Because gratification is nearly immediate, the motivation to complete a round is high; plus, the intelligence built into the program encourages and helps learners to develop new strategies if they initially have difficulty with any of the activities.
The activities in Tubin' Trouble develop successive processing, the use of speech as a rehearsal strategy, and rehearsal of auditory information. At the beginning of each round, learners hear the names of various objects that they must later collect in a specific, serial order. Once their journey to collect the targeted objects is underway, young learners develop motor skills by using the mouse to steer their character-who is riding an inner tube-through treacherous waters. Tubin' Trouble also provides audio instructions to help ensure that the youngsters are able complete their tasks.
The activities in Tubin' Trouble present sequences of auditory and visual information that students must learn to manage if they are to successfully collect all the targeted shapes in the correct order. Rehearsal and verbalization are examples of strategies that students must use in order to progress through the activity's many levels; when learners sound out unfamiliar words they are using successive integration. All of these skills and strategies have proven to be especially useful in word reading.
The activities in Zoo Adventures help develop planning and executive functioning, attention, simultaneous processing, visual scanning, the ability to use inner speech for guiding and verifying behavior, and the capacity to make adjustments. In this activity, animated zoo animal characters are randomly scattered throughout an outdoor scene. Although the animals can hide behind various objects, the student must take photos of all the animals. A round is completed under two conditions: either all of the animals have been photographed, or the user has run out of film.
The Zoo Adventures ' activities help develop planning skills, which involve learners asking questions, solving problems, and self-monitoring. Asking questions leads to anticipatory strategies: "What will happen next?" "Where did I see the gorilla?" "How will I remember that the turtle wants tortellini?" Developing questions such as these help learners to better focus their attention and anticipate the future. By successfully employing anticipatory strategies, learners are able to complete the photography task without running out of film; self-monitoring is encouraged by allowing learners to manage their resources. Learners are rewarded by developing and implementing efficient strategies; this, in turn, requires the children to begin thinking about how they think, which is an important process known as metacognition-one of the essential first steps towards developing reading comprehension.