An Overview of the RocketReader Instructional Techniques

Figure 1 details the instructional pathways available to the user in the RocketReader software. The user initially logs on with his or her username and password. RocketReader enables users to create their own account, where all their activities are saved. This allows them to track their progress.
The user is then required to choose a lesson plan, which are arranged by session lengths of 10, 20, 40 or 60 minutes. Once a lesson plan is selected, RocketReader will guide the user through a series of exercises specially designed to train the user within the available time. Training exercises are varied so a user who always chooses a short lesson plan will be trained in a variety of different skills over time. Alternatively, the user can opt for a custom lesson, and create a self-directed session of exercises they would like to focus on.
During the session, users can see the status of three key indicators in the top left hand corner of the main window:

  1. Time — how many minutes the user has been training with RocketReader
  2. Effort — how much effort the user has expended during their RocketReader session; effort is a measure of total progress and is analogous to ‘calories burned’ on a computer exercise bicycle.
  3. Level — RocketReader has two databases: advanced and basic. The user commences at the basic level and when they have demonstrated a sufficient level of skill¹, RocketReader promotes the user automatically to the advanced mode². Selecting basic or advanced mode affects the level of difficulty of phrases used in flash training, and. the texts and comprehension tests used in the skills testing modules.

RocketReader’s training exercises are presented in a main skills window. In a predetermined lesson plan, this window will guide the user through different exercise components, on the completion of each prescribed component. As explained above, the user can choose which exercise components to complete in a custom lesson. Each exercise component is summarized briefly below.

  1. Flash Training. This RocketReader exercise involves flashing randomly selected words and phrases of a particular character count very quickly on the screen. The user must then type the flashed text. When they score a certain number of correct answers, the level of difficulty increases. This exercise improves word decoding, fixation width, and helps mitigate the bad habits of eye skip back (regression) and eye overwork.
  2. Grouping Training. The RocketReader grouping exercises use smart shadows that turn into words. This exercise develops the ability to read chunks of text, as opposed to reading word-by-word.
  3. Speed Training. The RocketReader speed training involves displaying a single phrase of text at a time on the screen, with the rate of display progressively increasing, training the user to read more quickly. The user can adjust the speed at which the words appear, to a more or less challenging level. This exercise helps mitigate eye skip back and eye overwork.
  4. Practice Readings. The RocketReader practice readings allow the user to choose from a broad selection of texts on a range of different topics such as science, sport, history and fiction. All practice readings are followed by comprehension tests to ensure reading is accompanied by high comprehension. Font size, colors, text width and text display speed are customizable to user preferences.
  5. Memory Training. The RocketReader memory tests prepare the user for tests or exams, and help them to learn facts and figures. The user can choose any of the built-in memory tests: in the areas of mathematics, science, SATs, or English; or in any of the hundreds of RocketReader practice readings. Advanced users and teachers can create custom memory tests.
  6. Skills Test. The RocketReader skills test measures progress on reading speed and comprehension. HTML reports and graphs can be generated to detail the level of progress made. The texts used in the speed tests are carefully selected to be of uniform consistency, so the user receives accurate and appropriate feedback on reading progress.

  • To be promoted the user must register a high comprehension on a sufficiently difficult reading.
  • This automatic promotion occurs in the educational version of RocketReader; the non-educational version of RocketReader allows the user to prescribe the basic or advanced levels at will.