Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rock 'N Learn Sight Word DVDs: A Product Review

As a reading specialist, I spend a great deal of time teaching and reinforcing sight words, or "lightning words", as I call them (because you need to be able to read them lightning fast!).  Because sight word instruction can be a little dry and I get bored as easily as the kids do, I am always on the look out for interesting, creative, and multi-modal ways to make it fun. 

When I was contacted by Educents to review Rock 'N Learn's sight word DVD's, I knew immediately that this product was something I just had to have to add to my "bag of tricks"!

What did I receive? 
I received a total of four DVDs:  Letter Sounds, and Levels 1,2,3 for sight words.
** I received complimentary copies of the DVDs for the purpose of reviewing these products on my blog.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Letter Sounds DVD cover at an angleSight Words Level 1 DVD case at an angleSight Words Level 2 DVD CoverSight Words Level 3 DVD Cover 

A little background information:
These videos can be played on a computer that has a DVD driveThey cannot be played in a CD player.  However, they can be played on a DVD player that is attached to your television.  These DVDs encourage learners to participate along with the program through singing, reading, dancing, and playing along with the games.

On the Rock N Learn website, they include a correlation to Common Core State Standards for each DVD. Here is an example for the Sight Words Level One DVD:

Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.
Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g., the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does).

Highlights of the Letter Sounds DVD
  • Includes (11) songs for a total of sixty-two minutes of viewing time
  • Reviews upper and lower case letters in a logical progression:  letter identification, sounds, segmenting, blending.
  • Presents letters and sounds in isolation and ends with reading the words in context (sentences)
  • Includes some initial blends
  • A feature that I really like is that an on-screen mouth is shown with the lips moving to show how to make the sound
  • Pictures are included for each sound to help students to anchor the sound to the letter and a picture
  • A game is included for students to try and say the letter sound before the character does
  • Other games include "Spell It" and "Swap the Sound"
  • Some pre-primer sight words are included
  • Integrates appealing graphics and music
  • At the end, the words are presented in sentences, which appear on the screen. Readers have an opportunity to read the sentence before the character does.  I like how when the character reads, each word is highlighted, which promotes one-to-one matching.

Highlights of the Sight Word DVDs
  • There are three sight word DVDs:  Level I, II, III
  • Each DVD is between fifty to sixty minutes long

  • Level I  explains what sight words are and why they are important to learn ("you know them when you see them").  The Pre-primer Dolch words are presented as well as the top twenty words form Fry's first one-hundred words.  There are sixteen songs.  Appropriate for preschool and early kindergarten or students that need extra practice.

  • Level II  picks up where Level I left off.  All the Primer words from the Dolch list are presented along with many Fry words.  I like how at the beginning, the character has to rearrange the word cards to make a complete sentence.  The first song, "Use Your Words" explains why words are important.  Appropriate for preschool to kindergarten or for older students who need additional practice. Sixty-eight words are presented.

  • Level III  includes all the first grade Dolch words and some of the Fry words.  At the beginning, some of the words from Part I and II are reviewed. Over seventy words are presented in various formats. Throughout the DVD character traits such as helping others, kindness, exercising, and healthy eating habits are integrated into the story line.

Click the picture below to view a video clip of one of the sight word DVDs:

My Review
I viewed all four DVDs and watched the Sight Words Level III with my six and seven year old sons. I found the DVDs to be very well made with appealing animation and bright, vivid graphics, likable characters ( a talking armadillo, Brad, a "rock star" teenage boy who plays the electric guitar, an alien in space ship, just to name a few).  The setting for the animation has a modern feel to it that my boys liked.  It held their attention for the entire fifty minutes which isn't an easy feat. The music and songs are catchy and add to the interactive nature of the program, as kids are invited to sing and dance along as they are reviewing or learning sight words.  When I asked my boys what they liked the best, they both responded, "the music!"

The words and sentences are presented on the screen so students can see them as they read aloud or sing them, thus reinforcing their learning by involving multiple modalities. As well, when the character reads the sentences, one-to-one matching and visual discrimination are emphasized with the words being highlighted as they are read, or by the "dancing dot" (my words) that appears over each word.

 In addition, students have opportunity to sing, dance, use hand movements, read aloud, and play games (e.g., by trying to read a word or sentence before the character does).  Adults can easily pause the program to provide more information or explanation.  The main menu presents all the songs in a clear and organized fashion, making it easy to select which segment you want to watch.

In short, I can understand how these DVDs have won so many awards!  They keep students' interest with the animated story line complemented with the "rock" music.  These DVDs would be perfect to use as an introduction to sounds, letters, sight words, as a review, to use as a "brain break", or to use in a literacy center such as a Smart Board or computer center.  However, they also would be appropriate to use in small groups, as a whole class, or in one-to-one instructional settings.

You can grab a fantastic deal on Educents for a limited time only!  They are offering Rock N Learn DVD bundles at up to 50% off!  Click the picture below to see the deal and to order your set!  I'm positive that you will be as excited as I am to use these this school year to review and reinforce reading skills!

 Main Rock N Learn Logo

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  1. I am so glad that you reviewed these because I was debating purchasing them. Now I know that they WILL be something I can use! Thanks so much!

    Reading Toward the Stars

    1. Yes, Andrea, they are well worth the money! I'm going to use the letter and sound one for a student I tutor. My boys loved the DVD for Level 3 and the format was easy enough for them to manipulate and find songs on the main menu. :-) Lauren

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