Guest Blog: AceReader Teaching Tips by Mike Downey – Part 1

[Editor’s note and disclaimer: Mr. Downey is a classroom teacher and ACT prep instructor with extensive experience using AceReader. After being a customer for several years and seeing first-hand how much AceReader was helping his students, he now works part-time in AceReader sales. His original version of the Teaching Tips was too long to fit in one blog entry; as a result, we have divided the material into two sections.]

AceReader can be seamlessly used in classrooms without changing curriculum. Only 2 or 3 sessions of 15 minutes per week will vastly improve reading speed & skills. Class start time is best, while teachers take roll, collect make-up work, and prepare for class. Last 15 minutes of class is also fine. Students completing 2 of 13 levels average 25% reading speed increase with same or improved comprehension. After several weeks, students will be reading faster, so more class material can be covered more quickly. Thus, AceReader will allow teachers to cover more of traditional curriculum.

Teacher as Motivator

Because AceReader is such a powerful, absorbing tool, completely automatic in Course Mode, the teacher has little “teaching” to do. After the first day or two, students will know how to complete all activities: play games, do drills, take comprehension tests. Teacher’s main role is to be a motivator.

Classroom Management

(Videos & Quick Start Guide show how to set up classes and log in students. These tips are for increasing AceReader’s effectiveness in classrooms.)

Walk the room, look at screens. Don’t let students go to other websites or do social media. Only one browser tab, the one for AceReader, should be open.

Most teachers have everyone use Course Mode, which is completely automatic. After initial 3-level Assessment Test [Assessment is the 3-passage tests from Levels 1, 3 & 5.], the default setting to begin is Level 3. If students are struggling, have them change Course to Level 2 or 1. It only takes about 15 minutes to do a session of 5 shaded activities in Course Mode. After completing Level 3, most students do Level 4, then 5, etc. An excellent reader may get bored with lower levels. They should change Course to a higher level; but if they go too high, they may get frustrated. Moderation is key. Reading improves at any level.

After a month or so of Course Mode, introduce variety by using Menu Mode, where readers select types of passages, levels, ways to view text, forced reading speed, game levels, and assessment & comprehension tests. After a week or two in Menu Mode, return to Course Mode to use the training way AceReader is designed. The week before an important test (like ACT), have students Max Out by seeing how far they can successfully go.

Congratulate students mastering games. Tell students 4 kinds of people play AceReader games well: athletes with good reflexes, good video game players, musicians who use fingers to play instruments, and good readers. Ask which they are. (If none of the 4, winning games shows they can become good readers.)

If students have trouble playing games with mouse or one hand, they may do better using 2 index fingers to hit arrow keys. It’s faster to push arrow keys than to move the cursor to click on tabs at bottom of screen. If students get way behind in a game at home or in class, they just click Reset Game to start over.

AceReader licenses last 12 months. Students may use the program during summer to greatly improve reading skills. Most students lose half a grade level of reading competency because for 90 vacation days, the only things they read are text msgs of 140 characters, lol, J.


Give regular grades, evaluating time spent, improved speed & comprehension. Always give extra points for extra work outside class, especially over vacations and long weekends.

At least once every week or three, review Summary Info with each student (number of logins, % of levels completed) and Test Results (dates logged in, speed & comprehension scores). This takes about 1 minute per student and can be done on the student’s or teacher’s computer. Praise often. Nearly all students will show improvement when comparing Effective Reading Rates (Initial Assessment WPM to Latest Assessment WPM). Base Reading Speed (BRS), which is the Current WPM, is often even higher because it is the speed of the last story scoring at least 75% in Course Mode.

Review Test Results, which lists dates, WPM & scores of every comprehension test. View Graphs: ask students what the graphs of speed and comprehension scores mean. Often speed and comprehension scores will trend up and then go down because student advanced to a higher level. The improving up trend usually begins again. Even if a student’s speed stays the same, if Course levels increase, he/she is really reading better.

For parent conferences, review (& praise) student work as described above, showing Summary Info, Test Results, etc. At home, students should show parents the same information. Emphasize that more reading at home means more reading improvement. Show parents the 2-minute video “Better Readers Make Better Learners” and/or the 3-minute video “Welcome to AceReader” from the dashboard. A student might demonstrate how AceReader works.

Come back next week for Part 2 of this blog post.

Author: AceReader Blogger

The AceReader blogging team is made up of specialists in a number of different areas: literacy, general education, content development, and educational software. For questions about posts, please submit them in the form below. For suggestions about blog topics, please email them to

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