How I Use It
I use it during our reading rotations (read to self, read to me, read/listen on laptop/iPad, read to peer) and as a homework assignment once in awhile. Students love it because they earn stars for every step that complete, such as read a book, listen to a book, or answer questions. They may take the quiz as many times as they would like until they score a 100% and earn even more stars. The stars are used to purchase virtual items for their virtual spaceship. Students also earn "military" ranks that increase as students read more and more books. I check the site regularly to make sure that the level each student is on is not too challenging for them, but is still at an appropriate level. You can always switch students from level to level, even if they did not complete all of the books for each level. Teachers can award extra stars for things related to the website or as an extra incentive for something else in class.This is a great prize box award since it costs nothing and keeps the students interested in the website. For my students who struggle with decoding, I also allow the Bookroom feature to be activated. Here, they are able to read any book in any level. That way, I can still assign them books to listen to in order to answer comprehension questions at their level, but still have them read books that are at their comfort level as well.
Raz-kids.com, in conjunction with ReadingA-Z.com, is a great learning tool because it can be easily differentiated for the students in your classroom. With a wide range of reading levels, students can be placed according to their reading level. While I have found the level s of Raz-kids to be significantly harder than the DRA or Lexile levels indicate, but you can always adjust to make it work with your kids. I also love that there are features for students to listen to a book being read to them, read the same book to themselves, and a comprehension component. This works great for students who have a high listening comprehension, but have difficulty decoding, to keep them exposed to higher order thinking skills, vocabulary, etc. You can also keep track of students' progress, which types of questions they miss frequently (vocab, cause/effect, etc.), and even have them record themselves so that they can listen to their prosody skills.