App review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2021
BOOKR Class
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BOOKR Class

Animated reading app merges text, audio, graphics, and games

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Grades
Pre-K–12
Subjects & Skills
English-Language Learning, English Language Arts, Critical Thinking

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Pros: Multimedia features allow kids to read books in a way that's most effective for them.

Cons: Post-reading games vary in quality, and positive feedback animation only appropriate for younger students.

Bottom Line: Narration, visuals, chunked text, and interactive assessments entice developing readers and ELLs to engage with content.

Whether students struggle with reading or not, BOOKR Class can serve as a supplement to texts at any level. Pairing text with narration and illustrations and chunking reading into sections of text are all research-based practices that improve student comprehension. Teachers can assign stories and monitor student reading patterns and frequency from the dashboard, and students are free to explore texts on their own as well. Teachers should take care when assigning content or helping students choose books: Just because a student has a high Lexile level, that does not mean that the content available will be age-appropriate. Teachers should preview all materials before assigning them to students.

Since the games happen only at the end of the story, students will likely need some guidance as they move through the texts, especially if they are reading long or complex stories. Students often need this support while they are reading, so teachers will want to provide additional supports or supplemental activities, especially for students who are still developing English speaking and reading skills. Check out the books with activity tips in the web-based version to get ideas for post-reading activities. Plus, since kids can control the level of support as they read, metacognition is important here, and teachers should spend some time helping kids understand the ways in which they learn best if they want to make the most effective use of the app. For students with limited connectivity at home, make sure they've downloaded any assigned books to their device so they can access them.

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BOOKR Class is a multimedia reading app that allows teachers to assign and monitor reading materials and activities. Colorful animations accompany stories, which students can read with or without supports such as narration and highlighted text. From the teacher dashboard, teachers can add or import students, browse content, assign activities, and monitor student progress. Kids access assignments through a class code, but they can also browse and read on their own. Sort by Lexile level or topic in the app, or select flash cards or karaoke songs. On the web version, you can also search specific grammatical structures, though it's unclear how that influences the resulting book choices. You can also search only books with activity tips. Activities include cloze reading passages, vocabulary-based puzzles, word finds, flash cards, and other similar tasks meant to assess and improve comprehension. Students earn coins and badges, but it doesn't appear that there's anywhere to spend the coins they've earned or that the badges affect the experience.

BOOKR Class offers a unique way to engage readers at a variety of levels. The nature of the app feels most suitable for elementary students, but the graphics are beautiful and do add to more challenging texts, too. For ELLs, the easy stories intended for young audiences allow them to listen and watch as they follow the text and can help them make connections more easily than text alone. For readers who struggle with long texts, the app chunks such texts into manageable sections that allow the readers to digest content in small bits, while the visual cues -- sometimes static and other times animated -- help with context and bring the stories to life. This results in a reading experience that is somewhere between a book and a video, and since kids can control parts of the experience, they can choose the level of support they need as they progress.

The activities at the end of each story are short enough to keep students' interest while still helping them develop vital skills. While it would be helpful to have some in-text vocabulary support, many stories are followed by activities that build skills such as vocabulary acquisition and reinforcement. Those activities aren't enough to really establish deeper comprehension, however. Integrating some of the activity ideas into the app for group discussions, role-plays, and so on would be helpful. Also, changing the positive feedback for higher Lexile levels would make the experience more appropriate for older kids. Although the stories could benefit from more diverse character and themes -- many are classics and largely feature White primary characters and British English accents -- the app does a good job overall of appealing to student preferences to get them interested and engaged in reading.

Overall Rating

Engagement

The combination of chunked text, visual content, narration, and games make reading an interactive experience that kids will truly enjoy. 

Pedagogy

Although Lexile-based tools don't always deliver age-appropriate content, the app takes a fairly sound, well-rounded approach to helping kids build reading and listening skills.

Support

Customizable features support students regardless of their reading ability. The platform is simple to use, and students can balance between required reading and personal selections that pique their interest.


Common Sense reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Instructional Technology Facilitator

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