Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2015
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PocketPhonics Stories

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Comprehensive, serious phonics program has great supports, some fun

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: A good learning approach plus lots of ways to work with multiple users: set up individual accounts for an entire class or multiple groups.

Cons: There's no way to skip content and start students at a more advanced level.

Bottom Line: Though it’s effective, this straightforward phonics review and practice tool could offer more fun.

Since teachers can set up multiple groups populated with multiple students, this is a great choice for classrooms or for reading interventionists working with multiple schools. Teachers can grant access to view entire classes or only individual students, so interventionists can share reports with homeroom teachers and/or parents. Classroom teachers can have students work through the app at their own pace, individually, freeing up time to pull students in small groups or for one-on-one instruction.

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PocketPhonics Stories is a comprehensive phonics program to teach kids to read. It's designed for group or classroom use, with the ability to give parents access to view individual student progress. Teachers set up a class or group and then add each reader.

Once teachers have set up the account, choosing the handwriting style and letter case, kids focus on activities related to a set of six letters at a time. They trace the letters, saying the letter sound, and then build words using those letters. Once they've mastered the letters, they move on to reading short books focused on the letter sounds mastered plus a few sight words. The books include a quiz that tests word recognition, which must be mastered before moving on to the next set of letter sounds. If kids answer incorrectly, a few choices are eliminated and they can try again. They can replay books and letter sounds until they've mastered them.

PocketPhonics Stories is a complete program for teaching kids to read, starting with single-letter sounds and advancing to blends and long-vowel sounds. A teacher can set up an entire class or multiple classes easily. The reports are handy for keeping parents informed about how kids are progressing, as well as for teacher monitoring. Kids earn certificates for completing levels, which may help with motivation. The books are short, though not especially high-interest. While the learning approach is very effective, this isn't a jazzy, fun app like so many others geared toward kids, so it may not be an app kids choose to explore on their own. However, this could be a great choice for early childhood educators or for parents looking for a solid phonics program for young children.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Though gamified a bit with a star rating and certificates, PocketPhonics Stories is more about instruction than fun; however, the increasing challenge may keep kids engaged.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Readers advance from single-letter sounds to blends and digraphs and long-vowel sounds to become fluent readers. They'll focus on 12 six-letter sets, practicing reading, writing, and spelling with each set.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Teachers can set up classes online or in-app and receive reports of progress and time spent on activities. Teachers can give parents access to see an individual student's performance, too.

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Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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