Zinc Reading Labs: To Enhance College-Ready Reading and Thinking Skills


Zinc Reading Labs: To Enhance College-Ready Reading and Thinking Skills

Description: Zinc Reading Labs empowers students with the college-ready reading and thinking skills they need by engaging them with diverse text, choice and gaming.

Harnessing the power of technology, we equip educators with detailed analyses of their students' literacy strengths and weaknesses, supporting data-driven instruction and targeted interventions. Zinc has three key components: English vocabulary games with words from upper primary through university level, engaging diverse text with short self-guided assessments, and detailed reporting for data analysis.

Pain Points/Needs: Common Core Standards; Game-Based Learning; Individualized Education Program; Language Learning; News; Question & Answer; Student Assessments; Study Aids; Test Prep

Platform: Web

Usability:

Here are a few use cases:

Use Case 1: High school users who have a great core ELA program, but want supplementary text, vocabulary integration and a source for quality, high-interest independent reading. School can use Zinc to fill those needs. Generally, the teachers have students use Zinc during the class warm-up/do-now period at the start, for the first ~15 minutes. Students use Zinc for free choice reading, for reading relating to the upcoming lesson/unit and to complete vocabulary assignments, which complement the text from the core curriculum.

Use Case 2: Schools who have integrated SAT/ACT prep into their school days, and they find that Zinc is an ideal online prep tool. These users assign already created SAT and ACT specific word sets, and also assign word sets for middle school and early high school grades to get struggling readers moving up to the SAT/ACT vocab-level goal. These users appreciate how text questions are written in a style similar to these tests and that they require critical thinking. They love that correct and incorrect answers are explained to students, so they can use Zinc independently and grow. Also, what schools find useful is the embedded test prep strategy in the program, so are training students on how to excel on standardized tests. One example of that is the feature that requires students to write their prediction of the correct article quiz question before they can see the multiple choice answers. It's recommended that students use a similar strategy of mentally coming up with a prediction before viewing answer choices on the real exams.

Use Case 3: A middle school teacher who is using Zinc for his reading intervention class. He appreciates the diversity of our text in terms of topics and levels. The individual student report is very helpful as he works with each student in that small reading intervention class. They use this report to track progress, target skills/standards and to go over quizzes and correct misunderstandings.

Walkthrough:

For Students: After signing up on the platform, you can check the various articles and add filters according to your requirements. Mention a category that interest you and add reading time, common core skill, difficulty level and zinc skills. You can also select from the top channels that are displayed on top of the page. Once you are done with all the filling all the filters, the list of matching articles appear select one and read the article. Based on the reading, you have to answer the questions. Before getting the MCQ choices, user must need to predict and write the answer only then you can unlock the MCQ choices. Get points for all the answered questions. You can also check the reports thereafter.        

For Teachers: Teachers begin by registering online and creating a profile. Once logged in, they search for articles and assessments by selecting a topic channel such as sports, world, psychology, or pop culture. They can filter their search by using drop down menus to select particular Common Core standards, difficulty level, reading level, or length.

Once they have selected an article to assign to students, teachers are prompted to preview new vocabulary words that will be taught to students when they start reading the article.  If teachers wish to assign students additional or test preparation vocabulary to accompany the text, they can search their ‘Vocabulary’ dashboard for ‘sets’ or vocabulary instruction. To view student assessment score reports, teachers select their ‘Reports’ dashboard. Reports can be generated for individual student performance, class usage and performance, assignments performance, and class reading skills.

Pricing: The app is free for students. If teachers/schools want to use Zinc with full access to reporting and assignment creation and monitoring, there is a fee of $10 per student. The price is reduced for purchases of more than 500 licenses.

Zinc Reading Labs from colette coleman on Vimeo.

This online library of informative articles is a great way to enhance the vocabulary and work on the skills for any individual. The vocabulary lessons and assessment is a great way for both educators and students to keep in a loop and work together. The option to add filter makes it easier for educators and makes it easier for educators to focus on students individually. With the feature of reports, students and teachers can analyses the weak and strong areas and work accordingly. All together, the tool is good for those looking to enhance their vocabulary bank or is having SAT/ACT vocab-level goal. 

You can create a free one-month trial account as a teacher at https://games.zinclearninglabs.com. You can create a free student account at that same address at any time.

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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