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A PreK EdTech Platform to Support Early Literacy

February 27, 2019

One of my favorite parts of an EdTech conference is meeting the folks behind the tools that are changing the way we think about technology in education. At TCEA in San Antonio this year, I spent some time with the team at Waterford.org, including the president and CEO of Waterford, Benjamin Heuston, Ph.D. Waterford has an exciting program for PreK-age students. It is designed to help children grow their literacy skills as they prepare to enter kindergarten.

WaterfordUPSTART School Readiness Program

The Waterford UPSTART program is designed to target common challenges in early childhood education. The team at Waterford.org wanted to address traditional barriers to site-based PreK like geography and transportation. Finding a quality PreK option can be a challenge in some regions of the country. Waterford UPSTART offers parents kindergarten preparation right at home.

What does it look like to be kindergarten ready? Using adaptive learning software, ebooks, songs, and activities, students explore early literacy content and reading skills. The curriculum covers phonological awareness, phonics, comprehension, and vocabulary as well as language concepts.

One of the big talking points in the world of education tech right now is screen time. So while I was chatting with the Waterford.org team at TCEA, I asked them about their usage. I learned Waterford UPSTART is designed to be used fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, which is well within the guidelines of the American Pediatric Association. In addition, parents receive supplemental activities they can complete offline with their child one-on-one outside of the digital lessons.

EdTech Platform for Early Literacy

What does Waterford UPSTART look like in action? Waterford UPSTART offers children and family access to a robust online curriculum. It is a computer-based, kindergarten readiness program for students right at home. On this platform, you’ll find more than 2,500 reading, science, and math lessons. Children also have access to hundreds of digital books and animated songs, covering more than 450 instructional hours.

The team at Waterford.org were also excited to share a recently released study, showing the program’s effectiveness. An independent research firm conducted the Utah High-Quality School Readiness Expansion (HQSR-E) report and found Waterford UPSTART had significant positive effects on early literacy development. The report also showed Waterford UPSTART was especially effective among at-risk children. You can read the full study of the program here.

Waterford.org & Curriculet

Waterford.org is a nonprofit education partner that creates personalized, cloud-based instruction through curriculum, content, and assessment for children in PreK to 12th grade. In addition to learning about the Waterford UPSTART program at TCEA, I talked with their team about their other offerings.

Curriculet is designed for students in upper elementary, middle and high school to provide deeper reading experiences. It provides access to curriculum and assessments for thousands of book titles, across a wide range of genres. I believe in the power of using digital tools to elevate and energize traditional reading experiences. This is a topic at the center of my book Taming the Wild Text, so I was excited to learn more about Curriculet.

Whether students are reading a book online or offline, Curriculet gives all students a personalized reading experience. Students have access to rich media annotations, quizzes, and open-ended questions encourage reflection at regular checkpoints throughout a text. At the same time, teachers can collect information on student needs. Then they can address them in real-time.

Between their kindergarten-readiness program and offerings for K-12, there are certainly a lot of exciting things happening at Waterford.org! To learn more about their powerful kindergarten-readiness program, visit this landing page with information on the Waterford UPSTART school readiness program.

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Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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