Virtual Reading 'coach' helps local Cleveland students

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- When students start school, they learn how to read, but soon they must read to learn. If they fall behind in those early years, school can be difficult.

Now one organization has stepped in to make sure local students won't miss out on opportunities reading can provide.

Mound Elementary students have a special coach to improve their reading skills.

MindPlay is a virtual reading coach that customizes the learning experience to each individual student. It may look like video games, but it targets where the student needs the most help.

"The kids need to be engaged. They need to be active. It's not a passive learning environment," said Dr. Ruth Friedman, a educational representative with MindPlay.

"My favorite thing is when you have to type the keys to type in the word," said Kenyoa, a Mound Elementary student.

Follow student Janay agrees, and adds, "I like the spelling."

The State of Ohio passed the third grade reading guarantee, which has schools evaluate students to determine if they are reading at their grade level. If they are not, schools must start a reading improvement plan.

"Being able to create this program, which will help kids read by the third grade, we think is absolutely crucial. So we have invested in the program and we will continue this program," said Kurt Karakul, president and executive director of the Third Federal Foundation.

The Third Federal Foundation purchased MindPlay for the four elementary schools within the Slavic Village community in Cleveland.

"We can actually see students making progress in 15 hours," said Dr. Friedman.

The foundation also provided money for tutors to get students started using MindPlay, and to encourage them to continue using the program at home on tablets or Smart phones.

Students want to stick with reading, because of how it makes them feel.

"I feel proud of myself," said Kenyoa. "I feel excited," said Janay.

"I feel more confident," said Beautifull.

"We have put together this program with Third Federal that we hope can be modeled throughout the city of Cleveland," said Dr. Friedman.

WKYC, along with Third Federal, has launched the "We Read Here" campaign to encourage parents to spend 20 minutes a day reading to their kids.


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