Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? We have answers. Check out the following FAQ.
Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? We have answers. Check out the following FAQ.
What is the underlying philosophy of Amplify Reading?
Engagement is in the DNA: Every lesson and activity engages students through compelling storytelling and powerful narrative. Students persist longer and learn more deeply than when they are working on repetitive worksheet-like programs.
Instruction and practice: Amplify Reading 6–8 gives students practice as well as instruction in the key concepts they need to master. And the instruction is interactive, not passive.
Emphasizes deep conceptual understanding: Backed by the latest research and designed with experts, Amplify Reading focuses on ensuring that students have a deep understanding of the concepts. And those skills transfer from the program to the real world.
What is the research basis behind Amplify Reading?
Amplify Reading is a supplemental digital literacy instruction program that provides students with practice and explicit instruction in the underlying phonics, phonological awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension skills that are essential for fluent reading with good comprehension (e.g., Cartwright, 2010; NICHD, 2000; Oakhill, Cain, & Elbro, 2015). The overarching goal of the program is to provide engaging individualized instruction and practice in the skills and strategies that have the most impact on literacy, while making it explicit to students that the skills they are practicing are things that good readers do while they are reading. As repetition with variety is an essential part of effective literacy instruction (e.g., Schuele & Boudreau, 2008), after a brief introduction to each activity, students are given repeated opportunities to practice these skills with varied stimuli. They receive immediate feedback for their responses and are given more explicit instruction in areas that are challenging. The instruction provided incorporates documented principles of effective instructional delivery; the activities engage students in multiple opportunities to practice critical skills at an appropriate pace with consistent feedback and prioritize student engagement and motivation, helping students to see their own growth toward reading goals (Carnine, Silbert, Kame’enui, & Tarver, 2016; Gersten, et. al., 2009; Deci, & Ryan, 2012.). Activities build on an existing computer-based intervention that has been documented to improve the decoding skills of students in multiple experimental studies (Richardson & Lyytinen, 2014). Since learning is promoted when students use their knowledge across tasks (e.g., Merrill, 2002), generalization is encouraged through ebooks with embedded activities that reinforce skills recently practiced in related games.
Instruction is closely aligned with the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards (CSSS) for literary and informational texts and the North Carolina English Language Arts standards. The program was designed to include content that is most effective at building the word reading and comprehension skills of elementary students (e.g., NICHD, 2000; NIFL, 2008), including at-risk and struggling readers (e.g., NICHD, 2000) and English language learners (e.g., August & Shanahan, 2006). The content focuses on foundational reading skills (i.e., phonological awareness and phonics) as well as vocabulary and reading comprehension.
At the middle school level, Amplify Reading intentionally focuses on close reading skills and helping students read like writers. Research shows that close reading—the intensive analysis of high-quality text “in order to come to terms with what it says, how it says it, and what it means”—is a key component of college and career readiness (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, 2011; Shanahan, 2012). Close reading instruction is linked to significant gains in reading proficiency and students’ self-perceptions around reading, particularly for struggling readers (Fisher & Frey, 2014).
Research also shows that by providing students with contextualized learning experiences and rich engaging stories, narrative-centered interactive learning environments increase student interest, self-efficacy, and feelings of involvement and control in their learning (McQuiggan, Rowe, Lee, & Lester, 2008).
How is Amplify Reading structured?
Amplify Reading is designed hand-in-hand with experts, and each of the program’s games maps to specific skills and aligns to the most rigorous reading standards.
For middle schoolers, Amplify Reading takes the form of an interactive graphic novel called The Last Readers. This story is set in a dystopian future world run by Machines, where people are told what to read and what to think. But dissent is afoot. Recruited for the rebellion, students are trained in the powerful ways authors convey meaning and affect their audience.
The story is divided into three books with chapters focusing on a different skill or concept.
Each chapter follows the same structure:
- Interactive instruction: Students engage with a specific close reading concept using digital manipulatives.
- Guided close reading: Students apply knowledge of the concept to a complex text.
- Creative application: Students use their knowledge of the concept to create new content that solves a story-based problem.
Literary and informational passages are paired with carefully crafted, text-dependent questions and technology-enhanced items that prepare students for the same types of questions they’ll face on high stakes assessments. All along the way, teachers receive reports that visualize activity and progress, and highlight areas of improvement. Teachers can also leverage the original content generated by students in each mission as a rich classroom discussion piece.
Combining content and pedagogy with the creativity and purpose of storytelling results in an experience that truly motivates students and gives them the skills and confidence to tackle complex text.
You can view the full scope and sequence here.
What is the impact of Amplify Reading on student achievement?
Over the course of our early efficacy study, kindergarteners using Amplify Reading grew an average of 16% more than kindergarteners who didn’t use Amplify Reading. First graders using Amplify Reading grew 23% more than first graders who didn’t.
We compared growth rates for students in classrooms using Amplify Reading with those from a very large database (over 500,000 students) of same-age children. The treatment group comprised 198 students in seven schools representing both urban and rural populations across four states and included Tier 1 and Tier 2 students. The outcome measure was growth on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Composite Score. Students were tested at the beginning and middle of the 2017–2018 school year. For both kindergartners and first-grade students, average growth was significantly higher for students who played Amplify Reading.
Middle schoolers in our early study saw significant improvement in their performance, as measured from pre-test to post-test after an average of 3.5 weeks of instruction. Students gained an average of 6.52 scale score points—an increase of over 14%
You can view the growth study here.
Is Amplify Reading aligned to Core Standards?
The practice of close reading lies at the heart of the Common Core standards for English Language Arts. Instruction in close reading enables students to become attuned to the essential elements of authentic texts: from key ideas and claims to specific details and evidence; from the effects of single words to those of larger textual structures; from the significance of individual texts to the interrelated meanings of entire corpora. These are precisely the skill areas addressed by the Common Core.
The Common Core’s focus on close reading is reflected in the text-dependent questions that populate Common Core-aligned assessments of ELA proficiency. Text-dependent questions address students’:
- understanding of vocabulary;
- understanding of syntax and structure;
- understanding of literary and argumentative devices;
- understanding of themes and central ideas.
Amplify Reading, through its instruction and practice, gives students the essential skills and confidence they need to address text-dependent questions and therefore the standards to which they refer.
Additionally, each book of The Last Readers emphasizes at least one Common Core reading anchor standards associated with each of the ELA standards strands:
Book 1: KID 1 / C&S 4 / IKI 8
Book 2: KID 1, 2, 3 / C&S 4, 5, 6 / IKI 8
Book 3: KID 1, 2, 3 / C&S 4, 5, 6 / IKI 6, 7, 8
See the full scope and sequence for complete standards alignments.
How does the adaptive algorithm work?
Amplify Reading allows younger students to progress through the curriculum along a pathway that best fits their developing abilities. Students are placed into the program based on prior data and the system maintains a rich profile for them as they master each skill level. Amplify Reading also provides adaptive support, meaning that the degree of scaffolding, instruction, and practice adapts within each game based on student performance.
Students are served up content that’s appropriate for them within each quest. If a student struggles with a particular content set (3 failed attempts), the set is removed from the quest and presented to the student in a later quest after they’ve had more practice with the prerequisite skills.
When this happens, the teacher dashboard will indicate that the student is “stuck” through the class view and the student view.
If the teacher taps on the student’s name, they can see the specific content that the student struggled with. This allows teachers to provide additional support for the student. The progress bar will go back to green when the student has mastered the content set at a later date.
How often should my students use Amplify Reading?
For younger students
Amplify Reading is a supplemental reading curriculum designed to support a student’s development in key early literacy skills through play. The games in Amplify Reading are meant to engage students individually on their own unique path. As a result, there are numerous ways you can use Amplify Reading with your students.
We recommend you allow students to play for 10–15 minutes per session, 2–3 times a week in some of the following ways:
- As part of a work station or literacy center
- During reading blocks or choice time
- With students not in intervention groups during intervention time
- During transitions between periods (or at the start or end of school)
- In a computer lab
- In after-school programs
- At home (students may use logins to practice on Amplify Reading at home)
For middle schoolers
Amplify Reading is designed for students to work independently as they progress through the units (or “chapters”) of The Last Readers. It is flexible and can be incorporated into the curriculum in many different ways. The most popular implementation is to have students work on the program one to three times per week for 20–30 minutes at a time, but some teachers assign it one day a week for 45 minutes, while others assign it every day for 15 minutes. Each chapter takes a student approximately one hour to complete. This varies by student. The way you use the program with your students is up to you!
Because students work on the program independently and at their own pace, teachers are free to use this time pulling individuals or small groups of students for personalized instruction, conferences, etc. Or, if the whole class is working on the program independently, you can monitor student progress and provide support for students who raise their hand.
Teachers can easily review student work and incorporate concepts from The Last Readers into their core curriculum instruction. Some teachers choose to create group projects, essays, and other assignments that require students to apply the knowledge of literary and rhetorical devices that they honed in The Last Readers to their core curriculum texts.
Teachers who use Amplify ELA as their core curriculum can also use documentation in our Teacher Guide for recommendations on how to make connections between their core curriculum texts and the knowledge and skills students build in Amplify Reading.
What program supports are available for ELL students and struggling readers?
For younger students
Students propel the storyline in Amplify Reading forward as they take on quests in Bookerton. This narrative is available in both English and Spanish. Students can toggle between the two languages through their settings menu.
In addition to the overall narrative, many of the games have features that support ELL students and struggling readers:
- Many of the games have read-aloud text or are picture-based so that students can work independently, whatever their level of language proficiency.
- Supports such as cognates are provided for vocabulary words in Amplify Reading interactive eReader.
- Amplify Reading has games that cover phonics and phonological awareness, including at the syllable level, to support pre-readers who need robust instruction in these areas.
- Amplify Reading has games that provide explicit language instruction, for example connectives and anaphora, as well as strategy instruction in comprehension monitoring and morphology.
For middle schoolers
Because each classroom represents a wide range of reading abilities, teachers can assign students to unique learning tracks that are tailored to provide the level of support each student needs.
After your students have enrolled in a class, you can assign them to a particular level in Reporting. All students will be automatically enrolled in the Core level. It is recommended that you assign all students to whatever level is most appropriate for them before they begin chapter 1. You can change a student’s level at any time.
The Extra Support level provides more scaffolding around vocabulary as well as differentiated texts where appropriate. This allows those students to access the same narrative as their peers while receiving the support they need.
What are the technology requirements for Amplify Reading?
Supported Devices and Network Requirements
To ensure that your hardware and network meet the minimum technical requirements for optimal performance and support of Amplify Reading please see Amplify’s customer requirements page
List of IP Addresses to Allow
To make sure Amplify Reading is accessible at your district, you can add the appropriate URLs to your district’s firewall whitelist. Please see this article for more information.