Review by Andrea Meyers, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2019

Literator

Handy app helps structure and track reading conferences

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.
Pre-K–8
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Pros: Literator puts over 2,000 Fountas and Pinnell question stems just a tap away for teachers to use when conferencing with students.

Cons: Neither the app nor the website have data import and export capability for teachers to use with student management systems. No privacy policy available.

Bottom Line: Once teachers are all set up and organized, this can be a useful tool for conferencing and tracking student progress.

Use the mobile app to organize your small reading groups and collect data on their progress. Bring it to your reading conferences and simply tap a button to rate a skill. The dashboard gives you a quick glance at the areas where students need the most help. Use that information to make small groups of students for reading workshop. With the small groups, you can rate all of the students on a particular skill at once or rate each student individually. A quick look at the Students screen tells you the Fountas and Pinnell level for each student as well as the last time you conferenced with them. With a paid license, you can use the online tools to analyze your students' progress and plan for instruction. The online Calendar helps you to plan conference days with each group, but it's not available in the mobile app.

The knowledge base and support resources are still growing, and there are a few to check out. The Phonics Survey is used to identify knowledge gaps that might prevent students from progressing to the next level. Another helpful resource is the Reading Level Correlation Chart for converting F&P levels to DRA, Lexile, Basal or PALs, grade level, and age. For teachers who want a printable of the full list of skills and thousands of prompts that come with Literator, that's also included. And students can make their own reading skills charts with the Student Progress Tracker.

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Literator is a reading intervention tool that helps teachers gather on-the-spot data and use it to plan guided reading instruction. Using the free iOS and Android app -- or the paid web platform -- teachers confer with students and make observations with the help of 2,000 relevant question stems and prompts to support the skills assessment process. Once a student demonstrates mastery of skills and is ready to advance to the next reading level, the teacher taps a button to "level up" the student. 

The mobile app is designed for quick data collection; the web platform is where teachers and administrators can analyze reading progress across grade levels, a school, or a district. Charts and filters help teachers visualize data to inform instructional decisions, including sorting by demographics to tackle equity issues. Teachers can quickly scan the skill areas and create goals for students as well as record achievements. This is useful in particular for schools that form reading groups across teacher teams and have dedicated reading specialists, enabling transparency and consistency for the collaborating teachers. Schools can also create their own custom skills and achievements.

Guided reading is a critical part of the Reading Workshop model, and Literator enables teachers to keep detailed records on student reading skills using the research-based Fountas and Pinnell system and levels. By combining formative running records with the data recorded in the app, teachers have powerful information to support lessons that focus guided reading instruction on the highest-priority needs, such as in traditionally underperforming demographic groups. It will take some time to set up initially and then learn how it functions and organizes info, but the good news is: A lot of this complexity is in the interest of helping teachers customize it to their liking. It must be said, too, that at the time of this review, we couldn't locate a privacy policy, so make sure to check with the technology decision-makers at your school before using.

Overall Rating

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

The updated design is easy to use, which is important when using the app while working with students. Teachers will appreciate the consolidated data and demographic filters on the paid web version.

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

Grounded in research-based guided reading practices, Literator provides a strong foundation for making student conferences more effective and putting students on a path to mastering core reading skills. 

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

It's cumbersome to add students one-at-a-time. At-a-glance data is useful, but more so with the paid web version. Skills, goals, achievements, and more are customizable. It'd be handy to have extension and differentiation ideas.


Common Sense Reviewer
Andrea Meyers Instructional Facilitator of Technology

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