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Lexia Learning Systems Review by Christine Field

2 Lewis Street
PO Box 466
Lincoln, MA 01773800-435-3942

Since 1984, Lexia Learning Systems has recognized that, "Our world begins with reading." Any higher level of subject knowledge depends on reading mastery. Lexia offers us computer programs for early readers (ages 4 - 6), beginning readers (ages 5 - 8) and older readers (ages 9 through adult). The approach of each program is drawn from the Orton Gillingham system, which has been successfully helping struggling readers for over 50 years. The products focus on phonemic awareness, sound-symbol correspondence and decoding - skills essential to reading success. In each program, students work independently, listening to verbal instructions and clicking on images with a mouse.

So what is phonological awareness? It is the ability to analyze the sound structure of spoken language. It incorporates rhyme, segmenting words into parts, and blending those parts back into words. Early reading involves learning to isolate sounds (or phonemes) within words. When this is accomplished, the child can develop and apply a word attack strategy.

Lexia Early Reading (ages 4 - 6) gives our students a wonderful opportunity to master phonological awareness. Students are guided in a variety of activities by a cheerful cartoon character named Lexie the Lion. Four activities are available to choose from. Rhyme Time offers 11 units to increase awareness of the patterns of rhyme in spoken language. At each screen, three pictures are displayed, each representing a word. The computer highlights and names the word and then asks the student to click on the two that rhyme. The 350 words available range in difficulty from one-syllable words to two-syllable words with a suffix.

Sound Match is a game to help increase ability to identify beginning and ending sounds in words. There are 12 units for a total of 350 words which range from one-syllable words with three sounds to one-syllable words containing sour sounds. In all units, three pictures are displayed with the computer highlighting and naming each. In the first 7 units, the student is instructed to click on the word(s) that begin with a certain sound. In units 8 - 14, the student is looking for words that end with a certain sound.

Word Snip is designed to increase awareness of syllabication. A picture is presented to represent a word. Some balls are displayed beneath the word. The student is asked to drag down one ball for each segment in the word.

Sound Slide shows three pictures representing one word each. The student hears a word with a pause between syllables or sounds. They must then click on the picture that represents the sound. A total of 400 words are available in this presentation.

Lexia Phonics Based Reading (ages 5 - 8) offers three levels of learning activities. In Sort B, D, P, the student sorts letters or letter clusters which include the letters B, D, and P. In Touch and Listen, the student matches spoken words with their corresponding short vowel sound. In Match It, the student matched a word, phrase or sentence with a picture. In Consonant Castle, the student listens to a short word and clicks on its initial consonant. Each correct response helps to build a castle at the side of the screen. In the Bridge game, the student clicks on the correct short-vowel letter to complete a dictated word.

Level 2 activities begin with the game Change, where the student replaces a letter or cluster of letters to spell a new, dictated work. In Spin It, the student matches words with pictures. In Balloons, he student sorts long and short vowel sounds. In Score, the student clicks on vowel sounds to complete a word with a missing letter. In Word Hunt, the student must click the correct word to fill in a blank in a series of sentences.

Level 3 activities include fun word building activities such as Train, Pirate Ship, Word Stairs, Elevator and Water Works.

The third product I reviewed was called Lexia Reading S.O.S. (for ages 9 - adult). This program offers five levels of engaging learning activities to strengthen older readers. They range in level of difficulty from identifying short vowels and consonants to completing sentences to learning Latin affixes! The material was presented respectfully and would not be considered baby-ish by the older student.

Each program offers a record keeping feature to track progress and generate achievement reports. Everything you need is here to help your beginning or struggling reader. Best of all, kids love Lexia! They can work independently for a short period of time each day and master some basic skills by using this fun program. Based on solid research into why children struggle with reading, these programs can help you clear the reading hurdles in your student's life.

-- Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine