[Editor’s note: This is the third in an occasional series of guest blogs from a variety of AceReader users.]
I have always been an avid reader. Since the time I was three or four, I had a book in my hands, and I was reading by the time I was in kindergarten. During my elementary, junior high, and high school years, my whole family made weekly trips to the library, pestering the librarian for new titles and piling up the books to absorb for the next seven days. Even in college, where I managed to graduate despite taking only one English course, and that in business writing, I would read intensely for my own pleasure on the weekends.
Many years and two career changes later, I was working as a reading efficiency instructor at local businesses, government agencies, and military installations. I was using a software program to complement the course material, but it was so limited in its scope and abilities that I wasn’t happy with it; I resolved to find a better program. After searching the internet and testing out a half dozen programs, I discovered AceReader, and it felt like the whole world had opened up. Here was a program that would engage my students and that would teach them the strategies they needed to become faster and more efficient readers (and would let me boost my reading skills, as well). I contacted Bernie Marasco, AceReader’s co-founder, and set up a program for supplying my classes. I was thrilled with the results, and so were my students. Every student who put in the effort to learn what AceReader had to offer improved over the course of the class. I had bleary-eyed students come into class saying they had stayed up all night telling themselves, ‘just one more game, just one more game.’ It provided the perfect complement to the rest of the class material, and it always received high marks on evaluations.
In addition to teaching reading, I am also a writer and editor, and after a short time, Mr. Marasco contacted me to find out if I would be interested in helping to update and develop some of the AceReader’s content. I immediately said yes, and a decade later, I am the primary content developer for the program. I work to expand the type of content available to users (i.e. Specialty Test Sets, leveled reading material, and eBooks that come with the program), as well as to develop strategies, drills, games, and custom content required by a number of K-12 schools and universities. I also handle the press releases, blogs, website, and marketing material.
I no longer teach the reading class, but I do have a number of individual students who come to me for reading support, and I use AceReader with each and every one of them. One student had to take the MAP-R exam (Maryland’s reading placement exam for eighth-graders), and he spent the two weeks before the exam focusing almost exclusively on working with the program. As a result, he did so well that he was placed in Honors English the following year. Another student who puts in about 20 minutes three times per week has improved his effective reading rate (reading speed multiplied by comprehension) by 75%. A third student has more than doubled his effective reading rate, not just in the program, but on all types of reading materials. And the beauty of it is that I can tailor the content, level of difficulty, and activities to meet each student’s specific needs, ensuring that all will see some measure of success.
I am continually inspired by Mr. Marasco and his technical development team’s dedication to providing the most comprehensive and effective program possible. They listen to the educators who use the program in their schools. They listen to what the literacy experts say they need the program to do. They listen to individual consumers. And then they revise AceReader so that it reflects its users’ needs. The new cloud-based version, with its updated content and addition of vocabulary exercises and reading tips is so far ahead of the competition that there is no comparison. I know, because I decided to try out the other major programs again and was sorely disappointed in each case.
I am proud to be a part of the development team that constantly pushes the boundaries of what is possible with reading efficiency software. I love watching my students’ faces as they see their reading abilities grow. I would recommend this program to any of my colleagues looking for an effective instructional tool, and to any of my friends who just want to be better readers. Reading is such a critical part of life that every person, no matter what their job or position, must be proficient to succeed. If you are patient and persistent, and if you put in the practice time necessary, AceReader can be an integral part of that success.