Rosemont Elementary Uses Speech Recognition Technology to Improve Reading Fluency
Rosemont Elementary is using the Soliloquy Reading Assistant, an interactive, speech-enabled educational software program.
The students began using the program in October 2006 after they took the fall DIBELS assessment, a nationally recognized set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. The participating students tested out at the lowest level of literacy, defined as the Intensive level. In order to raise their fluency level, Soliloquy Reading Assistant was incorporated into their day for fifteen minutes, four days a week in a computer lab. The program is used in addition to the students' daily 90 minute reading block.
After two months of usage, the majority of the students reached the next level of literacy, the Strategic level, based on the winter DIBELS assessment.
"We've implemented many other programs at Rosemont, and we've never seen such great results so quickly," said Jacqueline Oester, reading support teacher at Rosemont. "The students love it because it allows them to practice reading in a neutral setting, in which they are not judged by peers. This has also helped to boost their self esteem. Our hope is that when our students take the spring DIBELS at the end of this month, they will continue to show increased improvement in their reading fluency," she continued.
Some of the children in the program are English as a Second Language (ESL) students. One of these children started school in the U.S. in January 2006 and required extra assistance with her English reading. In the fall, when she began using Soliloquy Reading Assistant, she was reading at 48 words correct per minute (WCPM). Since then, she has increased her reading fluency by almost 40 words to 85 WCPM.
"The Spanish translation for key vocabulary in the Reading Assistant has helped her to build her English vocabulary, and listening to the modeled readings has helped her with her intonations and pronunciation. She is so dedicated to using Soliloquy and the positive change in her reading skills is truly remarkable," said her fourth grade teacher Amanda MacKay.
Students use Soliloquy Reading Assistant by reading e-books into a computer using a standard headset and microphone. Through Soliloquy Reading Assistant's speech-recognition technology, the program is able to listen and recognize when readers stumble or make mistakes on specific words. When a student struggles, the program assists or corrects him/her by reading the word, meanwhile making records in the background for teacher review. Vocabulary assistance and comprehension questions are other features of the program. When students do not know a word's meaning, they can click it to gain access to a context-sensitive definition, pronunciation and photographic memory aid. When students reach the end of a reading passage, comprehension questions are presented to ensure understanding and to focus students on acquiring meaning in addition to speed. Students can then have the program read the story to them, and compare the model with their own readings to improve their pronunciation.