Review by Andrea Meyers, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2018

Literator

Useful app and website combo has potential to fuel guided reading

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts

Skills
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K–8
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Pros: Literator includes over 2,000 Fountas and Pinnell question stems for teachers to reference while working with students.

Cons: The app is relatively new, and the knowledge base and support pages are still in the early stages. More video tutorials and step-by-step instructions would be helpful.

Bottom Line: This is a pedagogically sound tool that, while still a work-in-progress, has real potential for teachers looking to upgrade their guided reading assessment and instruction.

With Literator, teachers use a mobile device to quickly track students' reading progress and skill mastery when working with students; just tap a button to rate progress based on observation and conversation. Teachers can use the free mobile app for iOS and Android in the classroom without a subscription, but it lacks the robust features and support provided in the Premium web app. It'd be helpful if teachers could try out the app to see if it's useful for them. If so, look into a demo of the full version of Literator.

As of the time of this review, Literator is pretty new, and the knowledge base and support resources aren't robust. There are, however, a few resources to support guided reading. 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 program (with both a free iOS and Android app as well as a web-based platform) that helps educators gather on-the-spot data and use it to plan guided reading instruction in the classroom. Teachers use the app to confer with students and make observations with the help of 2,000 relevant question stems and prompts to support the skills assessment process. In guided reading groups, teachers can use the app in Observe mode and rate students' demonstration of skills. Review mode shows the flagged skills for each student, which helps teachers plan and focus instruction. 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 Premium web platform aggregates all of the data gathered through the app (or entered into the website) and displays individual, class, grade level, and school progress. Classroom teachers, reading specialists, and administrators can use the charts to track progress over time and inform instructional decisions. Teachers can quickly scan the six skill areas and create goals for students. The dashboard suggests students for guided reading groups based on current reading and skill levels. This is helpful in particular for schools that form reading groups across teacher teams, enabling transparency and consistency for the collaborating teachers. Notably, Literator is also meant to tackle equity-based issues, and this mission is evident in the unique way Literator allows progress to be broken down across key demographic categories.

 

 

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. With the data recorded in the app, teachers can make informed decisions that help focus guided reading instruction on the highest-priority needs. The app was created by a teacher for teachers to use in the classroom, and it hits many of the high points for supporting reading instruction. As a new app, there is room for improvement, particularly in the online support and tutorials, and the general design and organization of the app. That being said, with continued development, Literator has the potential to become a tool that any school reading program will want to check out. 

 

 

Overall Rating

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

The clean design is fairly attractive, although the app feels cramped on small screens and could use better organization of questions.

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?

The Premium subscription knowledge base offers a small number of resources and videos to help educators get started. The app offers a simple GIF-based introduction. Demographic data in the dashboard helps foreground equity.


Common Sense Reviewer
Andrea Meyers Technology Assistant and graduate student in instructional technology

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