Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Into The Book: Student Area

Into The Book: Student Area

Fall 2008 Website
Ages: 7 - 11 yrs.
Designer: eduweb
Developer: eduweb
Producer: Wisconsin Educational Communications Board
Review:
Web site tools for children often fall into one or more of three categories - "designed by educators," "developed by publishers" or "commercially branded." Into the Book is a learning tool for young readers that was most certainly conceived of and developed by educators. The site helps define reading strategies and skills, and then tests those skills with point accumulation games. (A "How to teach Into the Book" guide is available from links throughout the site.)

There are carefully created modules for each of eight reading strategies, plus one group-strategies module, with graphics and animations to support and differentiate each. The modules model each skill, and give viewers the option to "try it yourself" or to see the model again. "Try it yourself" takes a viewer into an area where the lessons are tested and reinforced. In the case of "making connections," a character has to connect a phrase given to him with one in his bag in order to pass over bridges and to make it to the top of a mountain. The connections are not always direct - some are parallel themes or lessons. Incorrect answers result in additional teaching opportunities, and the viewer learns how to make better connections in order to succeed at the game.

As the games may last some time, it was wise of the creators to provide opportunities to save where one is and to log back in - the log-in area is very simple and only requires a first name to create a key. Providing a key on log-in gives a user access to stored games so picking up from the last progress point is easy. The "using strategies together" link is the only button that is more text than icon. As such, it doesn't stand out to a first-time user. Once that button is dragged to the book (the means of starting each module), the viewer is presented with a full story to read, and activities that support all of the strategies. Into the Book is well developed and worth the learning curve involved to get started.

Fran Wilde   ©2008 Parents' Choice
Fran Wilde is a writer, 3D simulation and web developer, and educator. She is an Interactive and Immersive Narrative Designer with Rezzable Inc. of London, England, was the Director of Web Services at The Park School in Baltimore, MD, for 10 years, and taught web design and programming at both Loyola College and at the University of Baltimore's Interactive Design and Information Architecture program. Her freelance clients include schools, corporations, and non-profit groups. She edits a group blog about family travel, www.travelswithchild.org, just for fun. Fran and her family currently live in Philadelphia, PA.

Look for this product at:
Wisconsin Educational Communications Board
http://www.ecb.org

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