Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2015
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WriteReader Pro

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Versatile, easy-to-use book maker for beginner writers

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Grades
Pre-K-1 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Touch keyboard offers several options, including uppercase, lowercase, letter names, and phonetic sounds.

Cons: Teachers shouldn't rewrite every word or even sentence of kids' compositions, though some may be tempted to do so.

Bottom Line: Empowering tool will make kids want to write.

WriteReader Pro does digitally what early-elementary students and teachers are already doing on paper. Instead of kids drawing a picture and writing a few sentences about it, with teachers rewriting some words to show kids the spelling (or translate so parents can read it), kids do all of that in-app. Plus, they can publish their writing in an ebook that can be easily shared with parents. Also, supporting documents about the app and its method are included on the developer's website, and they're a great boon to teachers and parents alike.

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WriteReader is a research-backed writing tool that lets kids write their own stories in their own words. Teachers can then translate kids' writing using proper spelling and conventions. Books can be shared, printed, or published, with a teacher permission and assistance, using the in-app library. Kids can also read other kids' writing that has been published in the library. The developer's website includes the research supporting this form of writing practice as well as tips for developing kids' writing skills, both within the app and outside of it. 

To create their own books, kids tap the plus sign to add a new book and then give their book a title and author and add a cover image. They can then add text, voice narration, thought or speech bubbles, and images to each page of the book, which can have up to 40 pages. Kids can tap the speech icon to have their teacher's comments read aloud.

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The features included -- feedback from teachers, the opportunity to publish, the ability to customize with pictures and speech bubbles -- make writing fun for kids, which is exactly what encourages kids to write. And the more they write, the better they write; the more they read, the better they read. WriteReader ties writing and reading together, letting kids write original texts, read each other's writing, and reread their own writing. The keyboard is customizable, too, letting kids see the letters in caps or lowercase and hear audio of letter names or letter sounds as they type. Overall, this is a great  tool for making reading and writing accessible, empowering, and fun.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Adding their own images to illustrate their ideas and then sharing their writing as published work will motivate and encourage kids to write. Reading what other kids have created can help them to take risks in their own writing.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids can write, read, get feedback, and publish their writing using this age-appropriate, easy-to-navigate tool. Teachers can easily revise or translate kids' writing on the same page.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Impressive resources (on the developer's website) include the research backing the method and tips to improve reading and writing outside of the app.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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