Title: Rhyme and Analogy

Summary:
Volume A sets out to develop phonological awareness skills among beginning readers and/or failing readers
who require an intervention strategy. It consists of listening, reading and writing activities based on rhyme
and analogy to help improve a child's understanding of phonics. It can be used either with an individual child
or perhaps a small group of children to re-enforce and consolidate work done with the whole class. A
multisensory approach is used with good use of simple graphics and animations and clear auditory instructions
and feedback. A total of 18 activities are included on the CD-ROM. Listening, reading and writing activities
are included.

Overview of Teaching with this Title:
Rhyme and Analogy supports the English Language curriculum areas and the following strands: Language:
First and Second Class: Strand - Receptiveness to Language, Strand Unit: Reading: developing strategies.
Special needs students could use Rhyme and Analogy as it allows for a student to work through the "books"
at his/her own pace. The program has a built in help feature and has the facility to repeat instructions for a pupil.
However the process of selecting a students name from a list could be improved as the size of the scroll arrows
to scroll to their name. There are also problems with clicking on a blank name or to the right of a name. The program sometimes stops working! What Rhyme and Analogy offers over traditional methods of teaching phonological
awareness is the ability for the pupil to receive instant feedback, to have instructions repeated as often as needed
and to progress through the activities at his/her own pace. I introduced the whole class to the program by using a
large screen television display connected to the computer. I had previously typed in all the children's names into the
program and I gave them a brief introduction to how to select their name from the scrolling list and how to select a
"book". The program has 6 "books" that the teacher can either allow pupils access to or lock out an individual
book as needed. Each "book" has three activities thus 18 activities are offered on the CD-ROM. My class of Senior Infants/First Class spent approximately 10 minutes each day in groups of two "playing" with the program. Initially
I only gave the children access to the first "book" so that they would familiarise themselves with the program but I
later gave them access to all the books to choose from as they liked. Several times during our use of the program
we had whole class discussions on the program and what we had learned from it. We tried to find words that rhymed
with words in the program and we drew pictures of our favourite program activities. Rhyme and Analogy's strength
is that it gives pupils another means of developing phonological awareness through an interactive multimedia format.
In the classroom we had minor problems with the size of the scroll arrows in the login box. The program records
whether a pupil completes an activity or not but not how many attempts a pupil took to compete and activity.
Several pupils clicked on all available options until the correct one was found. The program did not record this.

Content:
Phonological Awareness is one of the major areas of modern research into understanding how children learn to
read. Rhyme and Analogy follows this research model and is therefore up-to-date in its methodology. I am not
aware of any cultural, racial or gender bias in the program. The language used in the program is appropriate for
the age group I used i.e. 5-7 year olds. Any pictures the children were unfamiliar with could be "spoken" by the
computer for the children and repeated as necessary. There were no problems with the English accents in the
program. Each "book" has three activities increasing in difficulty - a listening activity, a reading and recognising
activity and a "reading and writing" activity. The program attempts to allow the teacher to match the level of
difficulty to the ability of the pupil by locking out complete "books" or any of the three activities within an individual
book. For example, you could allow access only to listening activities in a book or set of books. The teacher can also
set the program to automatically move to the next activity when the previous activity is completed or give the pupil the
choice of repeating the activity. When all three activities have been completed the pupil can return to the main menu
screen where a different "book" can be selected or a new pupil can use the program. A multisensory approach is
taken by Rhyme and Analogy in that aural, visual and linguistic approaches are used.

Design and Navigation:
On screen help is used appropriately and is available at all times. Instructions can be repeated, the name of a picture
can be spoken by the computer and the program offers clues when a pupil has difficulties with an activity. The accent
used is clear and as "neutral" as can be achieved i.e. not too American or too British. I am not aware of any features
that would allow pupils with special needs to use this program e.g. there does not appear to be a single switch option
available for pupils who use such technology. The program is easy to use and could be used without reading the documentation but as with most programs reading the documentation reveals the full features of the program. The
introductory sequence can be stopped by clicking on the introductory screen and you are then brought to the main
menu.
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