LeVar Burton unveiled Reading Rainbow’s new classroom app and site today.
It’s called Skybrary School and it offers hundreds of children’s books that provide audio support for the text, tons of videos, and lots of lesson plans. Teachers can create virtual classrooms that track the books students read and the amount of time they spend on the site.
The cost is $179 annually for a classroom with thirty-five “seats,” and you can also get a free thirty day trial. It’s quite easy to sign-up for the trial — in fact, much easier than you’ll find anyplace else. No credit card number is required, and it takes just about a minute-or-two. They are supposedly giving away lots of subscriptions to teachers, but it’s unclear to me how you apply for it. They have a “pilot school” registration form, but all the information appears to be a year old.
It’s primarily geared toward K-3 students, though could obviously be appropriate for older English Language Learners, too.
After I registered for the free trial, I quickly tried out the site. The books seem like good ones, and the audio is high-quality. The books I tried had some pretty decent writing prompts for students to respond to after they read it but, unfortunately, it seems like they have to respond to them on paper. It’s unfortunate that they can’t write their responses online. It’s fine that they don’t have the typical low-level comprehension questions that are typical at these sort of sites, but I think not having students write on the site is a big missed opportunity.
The video “field trips” and older Reading Rainbow videos are nice, too, but I’m quite surprised that they don’t appear to be closed-captioned. That’s another missed opportunity for literacy development. Perhaps some are – the ones I viewed were not…
It seems like a nice site. I hope they make it better.
You can read more about it at Education Week and watch this video: