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Don’t worry – you don’t have to! When a new learner goes onto StepsWeb, they’ll automatically do a Spelling/Placement Test, which assesses their literacy level and places them on the right level of the Course. They’re then ‘locked in’, so that they have to do all the activities in the right order (and successfully!) before moving forward.
That’s because your login is an educator login. When you login using your own username and password, you’ll see all of the educator functions.
When your child logs in using his/her student login, they will see the activities. If you want to see the activities at any point, you’ll need to log in through your child’s student login.
No, you can just add another student login to your existing account. This is how you do it: https://support.stepsweb.com/166/create-a-student.
Not necessarily. If you’re home-schooling, we’d recommend that you’re also using the workbooks. However, most parents just want to reinforce what their child is doing at school and fill in any gaps they’re aware of. In those cases, it’s usually quite sufficient to use the online activities. If you feel your child does need more than that, consider printing out some of the printable reinforcement worksheets, which are available for every list on StepsWeb. We can give you some advice about which ones to use.
That depends a lot on individual circumstances. In most cases, we would recommend 2-3 sessions of about 30 minutes in a week. In other words, about 1 ½ hours. The sessions can be shorter or longer, depending on what suits you both.
As a general rule, the further behind a child is, the more time they will need on the programme, but there always needs to be a balance. Don’t forget to do extra reading with your child – and the hands-on games can be very valuable as home resources.
Also, of course, take every opportunity to discuss what they are doing and what they see around them. These are crucial activities for language development and comprehension. No online programme (however good!) should aim to replace that direct language interaction, which is so important for children.
That depends. Older children can usually work fairly independently. We’d recommend checking their logs, of course, so you know they have been doing what they were supposed to!
However, with younger, or high needs learners, it’s important to be available to help if necessary. Many learners in this category have difficulty when they first tackle a new activity, so make sure they understand what they’re expected to do. There’s a help button to give you this information.
Often the main ‘teaching process’ is actually doing an activity together, so you can talk them through what they’re doing. When tackling a new activity, it’s quite usual that a child needs help the first couple of times they do that activity, but then becomes confident to tackle it themselves.
There’s a section on the Support Site about ‘scaffolding’, which tells you about ways of helping your child with particular activities they may struggle with. The link is here: https://support.stepsweb.com/304/scaffolding-techniques-intro
If your child is struggling on particular activities, you’re also welcome to give us a ring. Our education consultants are happy to advise on individual cases.
There are a number of activities which a 5-year-old can usefully do on StepsWeb, but the Course should only be used when they have a reasonably good understanding of their letter sounds, which for most children comes at around 6 – 6 ½ years of age.
At the younger ages, we’d recommend doing lots of oral language activities, including games, listening to stories and hands-on games. There’s no reason why a 5-year-old shouldn’t also have a go at the alphabet or phonic activities on StepsWeb, but they should be doing this with a parent, of course. You’ll find lots of activities in the Schools Gameset which are suitable, particularly the Alphabet Set and wipe-clean gameboard.
One of the most useful things you can do is to make a personal list with words which cause particular difficulty. There’s no reason why your daughter shouldn’t work through a small number of personal lists, as well as following the main literacy Course. If you’re making a personal list with particularly ‘tricky’ words, you might want to limit the words to a maximum of about 6-8 in a list. Otherwise, it can easily be overwhelming!
StepsWeb is a highly effective remedial literacy resource, but it is also designed to be a whole-class (or whole-school) resource. If used in that way, it does the following:
StepsWeb can be used as a classroom presentation tool, using a data projector. The teacher can display a spelling rule or pattern and the class can do an activity together before tackling the task individually on their own computers or devices.
StepsWeb can also be used to generate classroom materials. A huge range of supplementary printable materials and assessment tests can be printed from the Support Site, but StepWeb will also generate printable reinforcement for any list created by a teacher or student. Easy to generate written resources on any topic or subject area.
Well yes and no! Yes, each learner may have a different pattern of difficulties. Some learners have major phonological difficulties, some struggle with the visual aspects and many have memory or language problems. An approach which focuses on only one aspect cannot possibly cater for all of these learners.
However, StepsWeb is different. It can work with every learner because it covers all of the processing and perceptual difficulties associated with literacy development. It doesn’t matter if the learner is dyslexic, has other learning difficulties or just needs extra structure.
Learners with remedial needs obviously do need more structure than whole-class learners. See our Four Tier Model, which illustrates how we recommend StepsWeb is used with different categories of learner.
Non-remedial learners are fine with just the online activities, plus a selection of printable reinforcement as required. However, we would strongly recommend that all remedial learners are also on the workbook courses. Research shows that learners with processing difficulties, such as poor phonological awareness or weak memory skills, don’t progress with just computer activities. It’s important to incorporate that ‘transfer’ to written materials. It’s been shown that some dyslexic learners can be taught to type a word correctly on a computer screen, but then struggle to write that same word on a piece of paper, or as part of their other written work.
Learners at the very beginning stages of literacy should ideally have hands-on reinforcement using the printable games or resource sets from the Schools Gameset Pack. This is because these learners are the ones who need considerably more support and reinforcement. Carefully-chosen games, including those from other reputable sources will provide much-needed variety and enjoyment – for both students and teachers!
Very appropriate. StepsWeb was originally designed to meet the needs of dyslexic learners and it has a strong emphasis on all of the processing and perceptual skills which are needed for literacy, but often weak areas for dyslexic learners.
Be aware that high-need learners will need the supporting workbooks and probably hands-on game materials as well. It is also necessary to make sure that these learners do not progress too quickly through the programme. Keep checking retention and it’s always a good idea to go back to previous lists, reading materials or exercises to reinforce new knowledge and skills. Have a look at our Four Tier Model for some ideas on group size and supporting materials.
Absolutely. StepsWeb can support any well-structured, research-based literacy materials. You can adapt StepsWeb by building your own complete custom course to support your favourite materials, or by ‘dipping in’ to access specific wordlists or activities when required.
However, you may find it easier to use the structured literacy Course, which already has workbooks and incorporates a huge amount of reinforcement and over-learning. The choice is yours!
Certainly – provided that the language is an alphabetic one. You can enter and record words, sentences and definitions – and even add images.
No problem. When you enter a word into a wordlist you are creating, StepsWeb will show you the sentence or sentences which already exist for that word. However, those sentences may not reflect the context or literacy level you intended. In this case, it’s easy to enter the word with your own choice of sentence and definition.
Have a look at this example:
Existing sentence: The sky is blue
You want to say: I was feeling really blue this morning.
Just enter your choice of sentence into StepsWeb and record it! Quick and easy!
Be aware that the spelling test is a normed, standardized test, which gives you a spelling age. This type of test is designed to be used once a year, but can be done every six months. However, any more frequent than that is not going to be a valid reflection of progress.
We would recommend that your students do the spelling test when they first start on StepsWeb and at the end of each academic year. Bear in mind that you can see progress from their records at any point.
You could, of course. However, we’d recommend thinking about the overall strategy here. The disadvantages of doing a spelling list with the whole class each week are:
Instead of doing your weekly test, we’d recommend that you put your students onto the structured Course. This provides every learner with a structured, logical literacy progression, which incorporates phonic patterns, high frequency or irregular words, word families, etc. It also ensures that every word is seen and used in context.
Every learner can progress at their own pace – it’s easy for you to monitor and manage 30 learners on 30 different levels! Also, StepsWeb will automatically analyse all of their errors and create regular individualized reinforcement, including online and printable activities.
That depends. If they’re new to StepsWeb, then yes. This will give you their Spelling Age on starting StepsWeb and will also place them on the right level of the Course. We’d then recommend testing them again at the end of the school year so you’ve got a record of their progress for school reports. However, when you re-test them, the setting needs to stop their Course position being changed automatically.
If your students were already on StepsWeb last year, then there’s no need to re-test them at the beginning of the next year. One of the main benefits of the Course is that there is continuity from one year to the next. Students simply carry on from where they left off the previous year.
There are very extensive reporting facilities within StepsWeb. We’d recommend having a read through this section: Comprehensive Reporting.
You will be able to see every error a student makes and exactly how they have been spending their time. Also, bear in mind that StepsWeb is automatically analysing each learner’s errors for you anyway, and will produce individualized revision and reinforcement.
In addition, StepsWeb will analyse their overall performance and give you percentage accuracy for:
You don’t need to. The high frequency words are built in (and comprehensively reinforced) as part of the structured Course. There’s no need to teach these separately. Likewise, the Course includes phonic patterns and rules, word families and common grammar points, such as plural rules.
This is an interesting one! Many of the learners on StepsWeb have learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. It’s not uncommon for a bright dyslexic with good compensatory strategies to be reading at a much higher level than they’re spelling. Basically, they’re using the context and other clues to help with the reading process. Particularly in these cases, the spelling age is a much better indicator of what the learner understands about text.
One danger for these students is that they may have little difficulty reading well in the early stages, but if their understanding of text doesn’t develop, they are very likely to struggling with reading and reading comprehension later on in school, when texts and subject materials become much more complex.
The other aspect is that the StepsWeb spelling test is designed to identify gaps in the student’s knowledge and to place them at the right level to fill those gaps. This is why teachers and parents are sometimes surprised at how low a learner has been placed on the Course. However, learners in this category (i.e. good readers, but poor spellers) usually progress very quickly through those earlier stages of the Course. The most important thing, of course, is that they’re filling in those gaps!
This is not an uncommon situation and there are several things to bear in mind.
Firstly, the programme is designed to be a bit conservative when placing learners on the right level of the Course. Obviously one test cannot tell you everything about that learner’s literacy knowledge. If a test placed a learner too high, this could be incredibly damaging to their confidence and self-esteem. On the other hand, if they are placed a bit too low, the worst which will happen is that they will go fairly quickly and successfully through the first few units until they catch up to their rightful position. This can actually be quite a valuable process – it’s surprising how many gaps you identify!
Secondly, the learner may be making his judgement purely on the basis of seeing the first list of words at that level. He may well be able to read all of those words, but can he independently spell them, break them into phonemes, remember them, use them in context, write them from dictation, etc?
What we’d recommend is this:
It may seem time-consuming, but in reality, time spent on earlier levels is rarely wasted. Consolidation and reinforcement are some of the most important aspects with struggling learners.