Could reading for pleasure be a game-changer?

Reading for pleasure (3)

It is widely accepted that learning to read is an essential life skill, even if there is not total agreement about how this skill should be taught. Once acquired, reading is used everyday but it seems that fewer and fewer people are choosing to read in their leisure time. This decline is not restricted to adults who arguably have less leisure time at their disposal. Children are also choosing to read for pleasure less often.

But is this important? If children have the ‘basics,’ does it matter what they do outside of school? How can immersing yourself in a good book be beneficial, especially in a day and age where ‘reading for pleasure’ feels like a thing of the past?

There is a growing body of educational research evidence that links a number of benefits of children reading for pleasure. The key findings include;

  • reading for pleasure is important for both educational purposes as well as personal development and it has positive emotional and social consequences
  • there is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment
  • there is a positive relationship between reading for pleasure and attainment in a wide range of educational areas including maths
  • reading enjoyment may be more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.

This last point is of particular interest as despite increased focus, and in many cases funding, a child’s socio-economic background stubbornly remains the single biggest indicator of a child’s future educational outcomes. What if developing a love of reading holds the key to levelling the playing field for so many children?

The research also examined children’s perceptions of readers. It concluded that a greater percentage of primary than secondary aged children view themselves as ‘a reader’ and a greater proportion of primary aged readers (than secondary aged) and non-readers believed that their friends saw readers as happy and people with a lot of friends.

It seems that the argument in favour of reading for pleasure has been won and so how can we encourage children to choose to read in their own time? One of the reasons cited for children avoiding books is a lack of reading confidence so removing some of these early barriers becomes essential. Introducing children to picture books with simple vocabulary is a great start. We know that once children can read a wide range of common words by sight they are more likely to go on to become confident, fluent readers. These common words are those that children typically recognise within approximately three seconds. Amazingly, fifty percent of our written material is made up of one hundred of these most frequently used words and this is where game-based learning can help. Games like Skoolbo enable children to learn these words effortlessly and in hugely enjoyable way. Children love games and are fascinated by new technology. Teaching these early reading and spelling skills in an exciting interactive learning environment allows children to get more from their reading. This builds confidence, freeing  them to tackle more challenging words and focus on the story or poem’s meaning which, in turn, leads to increased enjoyment.

Confidence, however, can be fragile and fleeting if we are not careful. Children love sharing books with friends and trusted adults and when very young they are often very happy to read aloud. Reading silently or ‘in their head’ is a skill that develops much later, but reading to an adult in a formal school setting can be daunting for some children. It introduces an element of judgement and can result in a drop in confidence. Innovations in educational technology can help children develop as readers independently and free of judgement until they are ready.

Zippy Shine is one such innovation which allows children to practise and record their reading independently. In this reading and performance app, children can choose from a range of exciting adventures with familiar characters or they can try their hand at telling a joke, re-recording as many times as they like until they are happy with their performance. As they listen back to their own reading, they instinctively self-assess, recognising where previously unnoticed punctuation may have indicated a pause or change of intonation. They begin to have an awareness of audience and develop their performance accordingly. Children remain in control of their own reading development and only share their performance when they feel they are ready. Teachers will soon be able to receive recorded performances via their online teacher dashboard, providing opportunities for encouragement and informing planning for the next guided session. Similarly parents will soon be able to listen to the recordings in their parent dashboard, involving them in their child’s learning. It can also be a great source of pride and enjoyment for both parent and child.

Technology may not be able to replace that special time curled up in your favourite place with a well-thumbed, slightly shabby, much-loved paperback but it can go a long way to helping us develop the skills necessary to get there!

New to Skoolbo? Register your child, class or homeschool now for FREE and join the Skoolbo movement!

codie-footer-for-LP-2

The final day is here!

This is it – the final day!

Team Australia had a magnificent final day and will be tough to beat but come on let’s give it our best effort!

Team USA will also be the ones to beat, as don’t forget the time difference means that they’ll still have plenty of playing time long after we’ve gone to sleep! We need to get our score as high as possible to stop them sneaking past us!

1

We know that Team GB is made up of lots and lots of hard working children and so we’d like you to meet three lovely students from  Thorndown Primary School’s Chameleon Class. They’ve been helping Team GB in the Skoolbo World Cup, in fact they are on Skoolbo all year round.

IMG_2931

 

We were recently contacted by their teacher Mrs Burke who wanted to let us know that their Skoolbo Super Champ trophy was looking a little deflated.

“At Thorndown Primary we have a weekly competition to see which class has scored the most Skoolbo points. The winner receives the inflatable trophy. My Year 1 Chameleon class has worked very hard and won the trophy! The children were thrilled. They kept touching the trophy and holding it up like champions. After the week the trophy looked a bit deflated, so we pumped it up and took it back to assembly. The next week we won again. More holding of the trophy ensued and by the end of the week the trophy needed lots of blowing up. Following even more hard work Chameleon class won the third week in a row. In assembly the head teacher asked what had happened to the now totally deflated trophy and my only reply was that ‘we loved it too much’.” Claire Burke

We’re glad you’re on our team!

Map

 

Here are the rankings as we go into the last day –

schools

classes

pupils

Let’s get a few more Union flags on those leader boards!

Join in for the final push!

Follow the challenge #SkoolboWorldCup

UK email_3 Banner

Or register now!

button-register

 

Day 3 and Team GB make the half million mark!

It’s the start of day three here in the UK and the leader boards reveal that Team New Zealand, Team GB and Team USA are fighting a close battle but it is Team Australia who are seemingly impossible to topple!

1

However, here at Skoolbo, we firmly believe that anything is possible so come on Team GB, let’s get ready to take on the Aussies!

We have passed the half million answer mark and now that Team Australia and Team New Zealand are sleeping we have a chance to cover some ground and get more UK schools into the top ten. Here’s how the leader boards looked this morning –

schoolAustralia’s John XXIII Catholic Primary School and St Clare’s Primary School are looking comfortable at the top with St Michael’s School sneaking into fourth place. Team USA had a good day and have four schools in the top ten. Beverley Manor Elementary are continuing their good run as are Irma Dru Hutchinson Elementary and Melba Elementary School. Spring Creek Elementary are also up there flying the Stars and Stripes!

Team GB have Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park in seventh position. These students are experienced challengers, having been absolute stars in The London vs NYC challenge last year.

Northern Ireland’s Knockloughrim Primary School are only just behind them in eighth place. These marvellous students have answered over 66,000 questions so far and show no sign of slowing down! They took these wonderful photographs of students participating in the challenge. What an inspiration, keep it up guys!

Comp 1

Comp 2

map

Don’t be fooled by Team New Zealand’s temporary absence on the schools leader board. They are holding on to second place overall and have some dedicated classes determined to oust Team Australia and claim glory –

class

Go! GB Kids Go!

Follow the challenge – #SkoolboWorldCup

UK email_3 Banner

Or register here –

button-register

Are you ready to win?

10

It’s time to show the world what team GB can do. On Tuesday, the 6th December children across the UK will compete with children in Australia, New Zealand and the United States for the title of World Skoolbo Champion. Answer as many questions as you can on reading, maths and languages during the 4 day event.

Here are the wonderful students from Papakura Normal School in New Zealand in anticipation of the challenge-

 

Would you share with us your World Cup preparations?

Stay tuned for more news on the World Cup coming in the lead up to December 6th…

Go GB Kids! Go!

Whale Hill Primary School – ClassBo Champions!

Whale hill

A new school year is beginning full of excitement and new opportunities. We hope everyone has enjoyed the summer and is looking forward to the term ahead.

One Skoolbo school ended last year on a high and we’d like to share their success with you. We’re sure that these great students will inspire others to follow their wonderful example.

John Frost is the Computing Leader for Whale Hill and has been busy motivating students to improve their maths, literacy and language skills by rolling out Skoolbo across the school. The teachers are also brilliant at sharing students’ successes across social media which has helped to tell their Skoolbo story as it unfolds.

Year 4 were the first to appear on Twitter, demonstrating just how engaged they are with their learning on the platform –

Year 4 Skoolbo

Each year group had been set a Mega ClassBo Challenge to answer 25,000 maths and literacy questions over a two week period and Year 4 took an early lead –

Whale Hill Twitter 2

The regular Twitter updates revealed some very close competition and Year 2 were also early ClassBo stars –

Whale Hill Twitter

By the end of term all this effort had paid off and not just in terms of the amazing learning progress, Whale Hill Primary School had shot straight to the top of the leaderboard –

Whale Hill leaderboard

And it wasn’t just Whale Hill students who were winners as a result of participating in these ClassBos, WaterAid UK will benefit from every ClassBo successfully completed last term (more to follow).

As you can see from the fabulous comments below, the children are adept at reflecting on their learning and have come up with some great suggestions for developing Skoolbo in the future. We’ll certainly take these ideas on board so thank you!

What do you enjoy most about Skoolbo?

You get to play games and learn at the same time. (Y1)

It looks really good on the iPad. It doesn’t feel like learning but you are. (Y2)

The games are short so you can play for a long time or a short amount of time if you want. (Y4)

Where do you play Skoolbo most? at home, at school, in the car?

Almost half of children in Y2 and Y4 had used it at home including downloading the app. Y3 and Y5 was more than a quarter. All have had the opportunity to use it in school a number of times (Mr Frost)

How has the ClassBo challenge made learning more exciting?

It tells you how many points you have so you want to get more and be better. (Y2)

When the teacher shows us the points you can see your own score and you want to get the most so you play more. (Y3)

You get to see how close you are getting to the target and you only have 2 weeks which makes it feel like a competition. (Y5)

Do you talk to your friends about Skoolbo/ClassBo?

The children have said that they often talk about it with each other in school. More than half in Y4 and Y5 said they had talked about Skoolbo, even if it was to compare points (Mr Frost)

We are always looking for new and exciting things to add to Skoolbo. Do you have any suggestions for us? new lands, new languages, new rewards, new vehicles?

Rockets in space, underwater (on a shark’s back) and on the moon!

How do you feel when you master a new game?

I feel really proud. (Y1)

It makes me want to keep going and do even better. (Y2)

I feel more confident. (Y3)

It makes me feel like I’m good and getting better at maths and English. (Y4)

I want to master more topics and improve further. (Y5)

And here are some comments from the teachers –

It has been wonderful to see the level of enthusiasm for Skoolbo that children across the school have. We thought they would like it but they don’t. They love it.

I have seen children who lack confidence in Maths and English lessons fist-pump the air with pride as they achieve a personal-best score. Children who will easily disengage in lessons have tentatively asked when we will next be able to use Skoolbo in school. Quiet and timid children have flourished with the healthy competition that the year group leaderboard provides.

Furthermore, the opportunity to set targets as a ClassBo challenge has appealed to the children. It has provided them with a specific aim and given an explicit purpose for using Skoolbo as well as enjoyment and learning. The Water Aid focus and the resources provided have helped us as teachers to make cross-curricular links from Geography to Science to PSHCE.

On the last day of the year, the children were allowed to bring in their own toys and games to play. Within an hour, Y4 were asking if they could play on Skoolbo. That they would choose it over free time with their friends and their own toys says more than I could put into words.

Whale Hill Primary School – you are amazing!

Whale Hill map final

Whale Hill Primary School is based in Eston, Middlesborough. Here are their aims and expectations –

At Whale Hill we value all of our pupils equally, respecting their individuality and seeking to develop their fullest potential.

Our aim is:

  • To nurture happy, lively and well-balanced children with active and enquiring minds.
  • To develop childrens knowledge and enhance their skills.
  • To foster tolerance, respect for others and increase childrens awareness of moral and spiritual values.
  • To help children to become active participants and responsible citizens, able to live their lives as completely as they are equipped to live.

Our expectations of children are always high. We want them to work hard, enjoy school life, behave appropriately and take responsibility within the school.

“Continuous Improvement towards the very best imaginable”

Groggan Primary School’s Year 5 are ClassBo Champions!

NI

We’d like to introduce you to the fantastic students of Groggan Primary School in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Despite being relative newcomers to Skoolbo they have quickly got to grips with the program to become one of the top performing schools in the region. It was therefore no surprise to find out that these super learners are also very articulate when it comes to describing what they like best about Skoolbo.

Year 5 Teacher and ICT Coordinator Mr Chris Robinson revealed that the sixteen wonderful comments we received from his students represented only a small selection! They were so overwhelmingly positive that we thought we’d use them to create this special word cloud. We think it describes their thoughts perfectly!

Word cloud

And here are some of those comments in full –

“Skoolbo is the best learning game ever”

“I like the way you can personalise it”

“I like the way there are challenges, that way I can see how good I am at my Maths”

“Excellent Graphics”

“It’s great the way you can customise your character”

“ A safe way to play with people all over the country”

“ It can increase our intelligence”

“Skoolbo isn’t just an App for kids to play on, you can learn from it too”

NI 2

Mr Robinson explained more about how he is using Skoolbo in his classroom.

Skoolbo has only been in our school for 4 weeks, but it has made an impressively large impact on the classes in school. It is addictive to play and the customisable aspect engages children of all learning abilities and styles to play.

A ClassBo success story!

As a teacher it is exciting to see children participating at home, this is where we see most of the Skoolbo games happening. I have also used to teacher function to set my class challenges, first of all I set a classbo 5000 challenge, and got 6,500 answers in 48 hours. I then threw caution to the wind and set a 14 day 25,000 correct answer challenge. I was completely blown away by the response, 25,000 correct answers in 6 days!

Quick and easy set-up!

It is one of the easiest administered Apps I have used also, as ICT coordinator, I found the set up quick and easy and the children’s login is also straightforward and accessible to all.

We’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to this wonderful school for getting in touch to share their story.

unnamed

Groggan Primary School opened on its current site in June 1936. The school occupies a beautiful rural site on the outskirts of Randalstown. The school has been winner and runner-up of the ‘Best Kept Small School’ in recent years.  Currently the school has 117 pupils in 5 classes.

Principal Mrs Humphrey believes that community plays a big part in Groggan Primary School. They endeavour to hold events when their doors are open and everyone is made welcome. The school staff strive to help pupils discover not how clever they are, but  how they are clever. They help pupils use this to their full potential, regardless of ability,  through a range of experiences both in and outside school.

Llanedeyrn Primary School flying the flag for Welsh Schools!

Welsh Flag

Today we take a trip across the Severn Bridge to meet the wonderful students of Llanedeyrn Primary School in Cardiff. They are one of the top performing schools in Wales and terrific ambassadors for Skoolbo. A quick look at the home page of their website will tell you all you need to know about how far these students are prepared to push themselves to suceed as the photograph of some of them at the 886 metre summit of Pen Y Fan shows.

We have been following their astonishing story of achievement and improvement on Skoolbo as it unfolds and we thought it was about time we met the stars of the show!

image 2

Using tablets, they have made an astounding 31% improvement in Maths and Literacy collectively since starting on Skoolbo and they are showing no signs of slowing down!

image 3

Mr Price has been the driving force behind getting Skoolbo established in the school and he has even made a special Skoolbo widget for the school website!

Website tab

We think this is a great idea as it enables children to quickly sign in and begin learning whether they are at school or home. It’s also helpful for letting parents and carers know where they can register for a parent account so that they can keep track of their child’s progress.

If this isn’t enough, they have made this fabulous video highlighting everything they love about Skoolbo. Here you will see students ‘Zippy Shaking’ and taking part in the 60Sec Slime with Dr Weevil. Both available through the free Teacher App. They also showcase how much they enjoy their Maths and Literacy learning, finishing off with some personal feedback on what they love most about Skoolbo.

“I like using Skoolbo because it is fun and educational” Harvie R – Y5

“I like using Skoolbo because I keep winning!” Sam B – Y4

“Skoolbo is awesome and sometimes there are levels that are hard” Cody S – Y3

“Skoolbo is a challenging game, helps you learn and I enjoy playing it” Jibram – Y4

“I like Skoolbo because it has maths in it so I can challenge my brain and it will help me with my growth mindset.” Sunny M – Y4

“I like Skoolbo because you can earn points and unlock new things if you do good in the game.” Kallum R – Y6

“I like Skoolbo because you can decorate you own house and unlock new and cool things” Chloe S – Y6

image 1

This is a wonderful example of both independent and collaborative learning and this feedback from the teachers makes for great reading as well –

“Skoolbo is the best interactive learning game we have ever used in our School. I love the fact the teachers can monitor the children’s progress and set them challenging tasks. The children also love looking at the weekly class reports to see how they did.” Mr A Price

“I love it when the children use Skoolbo in our class. They always want to show me their results and how well they are improving.” Mr L Jenkins 

“We love using Skoolbo in our class. It is a fantastic app!” Miss C Stone

Congratulations to all the amazing students and hard-working staff! You are outstanding!

Llanedeyrn Primary School caters for 419 students and is based in Cardiff.

Their vision is to create a unique, forward thinking school that sets and achieves high standards for its learners whilst recognising its responsibilities to the wider community.
They strive to ensure that everyone within the school is happy, healthy, safe and successful, ensuring equality of opportunity for all.

They believe their school is special because parents, staff, governors and the community work alongside one another to give all children the opportunities to develop their full potential.

The school values the contribution that ICT can make for the benefit of all pupils, staff and parents and governors. To this end, the school ethos actively promotes and utilises ICT opportunities across the whole school structure, with the emphasis toward the promotion of learning and teaching. It is their policy to keep abreast of new and innovative practices.

llanedeyrnprimary banner

Skoolbo Welcomes Erwin Huang

Skoolbo is delighted to have the valuable support of our new local partner Erwin Huang.

Erwin huang

Erwin is a well respected e-learning and social enterprise pioneer and graduate of Boston University. He also studied at Occidental College, MIT, Harvard Business School and Beijing’s TsingHua University.

Erwin started his prestigious career at Apple in the US and in 2009 he participated in a Hong Kong reality TV show where he was able to experience first hand, the impact that poverty was having on people. As part of the show he worked as a refuse collector earning HKD 50 a day in a densely populated residential area, consisting of several large public housing estates. This greatly influenced his subsequent career and today he is well known for his passion for promoting and extending the use of technology to improve people’s livelihoods, particularly in helping the elderly and the disadvantaged. His many notable achievements include –

  • Founding CEO for the ‘Bridge the Digital Gap’ social project “WebOrganic” in Hong Kong which provided low cost technology solutions to create a level playing field for over 300,000 disadvantaged families
  • Helping to found eLearning Consortium, a non-profit association of IT companies,  education content publishers, educators and parents brought together to work as a bridge between stakeholders of the Hong Kong Government’s eLearning initiative
  • Helping to found Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA), a self-financing social enterprise and charitable organisation in Hong Kong that offers 24-hour personal care and emergency assistance services to the elderly and others in need through the use of technology and people-oriented services. The contribution of SCHSA has been recognised locally and worldwide.

We are very happy to announce that Erwin is now busy flying the Skoolbo flag in Hong Kong.

HK 3

Happy 15!

Recently Erwin introduced the ‘Happy 15’ project to a packed audience of students, parents and teachers. The project aims to alleviate inter-generational poverty problems and provide upward social mobility opportunities to underprivileged children. By improving children’s English language skills it is hoped that there will be an increased interest in learning, leading ultimately to greater academic achievement.

HK 5

The 15 minutes a day of fun, motivational learning on the Skoolbo platform is already having a positive impact on children’s enjoyment and engagement with learning.

HK 6

Although it’s still early days, results are looking very good with the participating schools regularly featuring in the top ten on the weekly live leaderboards

Leaderboard

This is absolutely fantastic! Keep checking back with us as we’ll be updating you on how the students from these five schools are getting on.

HK 4

The participating schools are

  • Father Cucchiara Memorial School
  • PLK Dr Jimmy Wong Chi-Ho (Tin Sum Valley) Primary School
  • Baptist Rainbow Primary School
  • Lam Tseun Public Wong Fook Luen Memorial School

Tweets of the Week!

We love it when schools take to social media to celebrate the great learning taking place in their schools. It’s even better when we see that the cause of all that engagement and enjoyment is Skoolbo!

Take a look at these marvellous images of children having fun while securing those important maths, reading, grammar and spelling skills.

Well done to Year 1 at North Ormesby Academy who are demonstrating some great collaborative learning!

NO Gyazo

Year 5 got the ball rolling at Water Lane Academy…

Water lane Yr 5 Gyazo

…and just look at how well the school are performing on the leaderboard now!

Leaderboard

This is simply awesome and today we heard about the brand new Skoolbo lunch time club!

Water lane Gyazo

How’s this for dedication!

Shelton gyazo

Thank you for sharing your good news and great photographs – you are all outstanding!

Join the conversation!

Twitter

Withinfields Primary School Joins the One Million Club!

Withinfields final

Today we take a look at a wonderful school from the Yorkshire and Humber region. Withinfields Primary School recently became a Skoolbo SuperSchool when they collectively answered over one million questions on the platform!

We knew there had to be some very special individual efforts that deserve recognition and so we were delighted to receive this lovely photograph of the marvellous Molly from Year 5.

Molly Broughton

This is what the school had to say about her –

Molly Broughton is a brilliant student! She has taken Skoolbo on board from the first day we’ve introduced it in school and she has been very enthusiastic in using it extensively to improve her Maths skills, Literacy – reading, spelling and comprehension.

Her parents are impressed with the way her skills have improved and are encouraging her to keep on using the platform.

She is our school champion at Skoolbo with an impressive amount of 27,000 answers.

You may recognise this young man as he recently helped his dad (Nick Negoita) deliver a wonderful presentation all about Skoolbo in front of a large audience. You can read all about this in our earlier blog post  Meet Mihai – Our Newest Skoolbo Presenter

Mihai Negoita

Nick has now left the school to take up a new post. A little bird told us that he is busy introducing Skoolbo to his new students meanwhile Mihai remains at Withinfields to carry the Skoolbo flag!

Mihai Negoita, Year 3 has been conquered by Skoolbo even before the launch of Skoolbo UK and he has been very keen in reading all the stories on Zalairos adventures, as he found the game even more interesting after he lived so many adventures with the characters from Bo City and the surroundings. He also helped me present Skoolb platform in a CAS Meeting inn Kirklees back in  December 2015, being an amazing assistant.

He has managed to answer more than 13.000 questions on Skoolbo UK, and his reading skills have been immensely boosted by using the app.

He has also adventured in the Language Dragons section, learning most of the Spanish units…

I think this platform has been the best app/learning platform used in our school since I started working for Withinfields Primary School back in September 2015. It had a tremendous impact in our learning, children relations and behaviour.

It was specially useful in raising confidence levels in using computers and other devices for our EYFS and KS1 pupils.

Finally, I just want to add that we found Skoolbo extremely useful in working with small groups targeting the gaps in their achievement in Literacy and Maths.

Before he left Nick made this fabulous poster to celebrate the great achievement of reaching one million answers!

Withinfields

Congratulations to all the students of Withinfields Primary School. We can’t wait to see what you achieve next!

Withinfields Primary School is a happy and inclusive school where inspiring teaching and learning supports all children in recognising and achieving their potential. They have 6 Core Values which are central to their school community:

  • Friendship
  • Forgiveness
  • Fairness
  • Happiness
  • Trust
  • Respect