This page demonstrates a new kind of reading support technology that can help learners of all ages learn to read and/or improve how well they read. It’s called the Magic Ladder because it adjusts it steps to fit the ‘reach’ of each learner.
Try it. Click on any word (and keep clicking it until the box turns green).
Clicking any word on this page instantly results in a pop-up help box that guides learners through the process of recognizing the specific word they clicked on. Clicking through the available levels of support, learners can see the word broken into more readable segments (where applicable), can see and hear the word’s individual letter sounds, can see and hear the word’s group-letter sounds, can see and hear an animated sounding out of the entire word, and finally, can have the word read to them.
The instructions are this simple:
1 Whenever you see a word that you don’t recognize, click it.
2 Once the word pops up in the blue box, try to read it again. If you still don’t recognize the word, click it (click inside the blue box). Watch and listen to how the letters are spoken and change their looks. Try and read it again.
3 If you still don’t recognize the word, click it again, watch, listen, and try again to recognize it. Watching and listening to the letters will help you figure out the word. Keep clicking the word and trying to read it until you recognize it.
By forcing learners to step through the initial levels of help before having the word read to them, the system focuses and guides their learning to decode (rather than short-circuiting the process by just reading the word for them). By controlling the process with their clicking, learners choose just the level of help they need to recognize the word. Once they recognize the word, the popup disappears and they continue reading right where they left off.
This ‘live on the edge of learning’ guidance not only helps learners recognize the word they clicked on, it is the most neurologically optimal way to learn to read. Rather than abstractly teaching the relationships between letters and sounds (and hoping it will be later applied in the ‘live’ stream of reading), this approach supports learners while they’re in the ‘live’ stream of reading.
To learn more about the Magic Ladder’s PQ Pop-Up, please click here.
To experience a collection of stories featuring this and other reading supportive technologies, please click here.
To install the Google Chrome Browser extension version of the PQ Pop-Up (and be able to use it on sites including: ReadWorks, CommonLit, Newsela, Wikipedia, Gutenberg, Google News, and millions of others), please click here.