Review by Sandy Wisneski, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2019
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Rivet: Better Reading Practice

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Free, leveled library has promise despite missing pieces

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts

Skills
N/A
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.
K–5
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Pros: The high-interest, leveled stories focus on current topics and even draw from YouTube videos.

Cons: Lacks data on students' comprehension skills, and vocabulary feature is tricky.

Bottom Line: The free library of high-interest content is handy, but the lack of data and learning features will require supplements and supports.

Teachers and parents can use Rivet to encourage kids to independently practice reading. Invite kids to filter the library of 3,000-plus books to meet their interests and find something they like. To help organize things, teachers can set up separate profiles for each student with custom reading levels. Unfortunately, Rivet isn't currently integrated with Google Classroom, so each student will need to share a login and locate their profile. Teachers can view the number of pages students read and how long they read for; however, there's no way for teachers to monitor students' understanding of texts. Teachers will want to supplement Rivet with some assessments to make sure students are progressing and being challenged. While the app is pretty intuitive, teachers will want to show kids some of the learning features and encourage them to use these features. For instance, show them that they can tap on words to find out more information, and encourage kids to use the pronunciation feature, which gets them to read the word aloud to earn rewards (if spoken correctly). Teachers might also direct struggling readers to the subset of books with the read-aloud option.

 

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Rivet is a free early reading app featuring leveled books in high-interest, current topics. The 3,000-plus books range from Lexile level BR to 650 and cover a wide range of topics (organized in categories like vehicles, science, and animals). Unlike some competitors, however, the books won't necessarily feature kids' favorite characters or entertainment properties. The real unique standout, though, is the "YouTube Books" category, where kids can read books adapted from popular kid-friendly YouTube videos. Extra info and help are available for words, and some lower-level books have a read-aloud option. Colorful realistic photos and images as well as a modern and bright design help capture kids' interest.

Rivet is easy to use and navigate, but there's no automatic importing of roster. Students will need to use the same login, and teachers will need to make sure each student has a custom profile.  To this end, each student can have a special avatar and theme as well as reading level. Teachers can view what books have been read and how long students have been reading in the dashboard. Beyond these two data points, however, there's not much else, including no indication of fluency or comprehension.

Rivet has a vast number of engaging books on topics that are current, connecting students to reading, and it's free. This makes it a good option for cash-strapped teachers who want a library of books students can use to practice reading. The interface is easy to use and allows students to dig into areas of interest. There are some learning features, but they're pretty limited. For instance, when students tap on a word, they can then tap again on an atom icon (which isn't intuitive at all) to bring up the definition and pronunciation of the word. Students also have an option to record themselves saying words; they get immediate feedback on whether they did a good job or not. Outside of these two features, there's not much in the way of learning. There's not even a specific vocabulary list for each book, and only some books have a read-aloud feature. Furthermore, those that do have a basic robotic voice reading text.

The program tracks the books students read along with their time spent reading. Importantly, there's no way for students to demonstrate their understanding of books via follow-up questions on comprehension or assessments.  Students can complete a basic rating of books, which triggers similar suggested books for future reading. In this way, Rivet is focused predominantly on motivating reading vs. tracking and building reading skills. This means teachers will need to use it tactically and supplement Rivet with other ways to make sure students are building reading skills and challenging themselves.

Overall Rating

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

There are 3,000+ high-interest stories with some great imagery.  The interactivity, however, is limited to vocabulary pronunciation, a final "pop-a-balloon" game at completion, and a simplistic book review.

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

Leveled stories cover a lot of content. While fluency and pronunciation is the main objective for each story, follow-up comprehension and critical thinking questions could deepen students' understanding. 

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

There's in-text vocabulary, but it's not intuitive to use. Read-aloud books are handy, but they're pretty robotic and not available for all stories.


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Sandy Wisneski Classroom teacher

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