OUR MISSION: Helping children read at grade level through singing
Seventh grader James was in special education at a Minneapolis public school, reading at only a second grade level because of dyslexia.* His teacher started students singing with TUNEin to READING (TiR) software. During that school year, James began to read fluently! He now says, “Being able to read while enjoying music helped me stay motivated…because of the repetition and having more of a rhythmic understanding…and being able to pronounce words with a beat and the fluidity of singing and reading.” The next year, he was placed in advanced classes. “Being in a class with ‘smarter’ kids, I realized that I was smart, too,” he says. Yes, he was—he just hadn’t been able to read. James is now a student at St. Olaf College.
*Brain research has revealed that dyslexia is actually a rhythmic processing problem in the brain.(Dr. Usha Goswami)THE REALITY
Thousands of Minnesota children are failing to learn to read well enough to succeed in school and beyond. 59% of Minneapolis and St. Paul public school students are not proficient in reading (2016 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments). Our urban public schools have one of the largest achievement gaps between children of color and white students in the nation, and it has not substantially narrowed since data was first collected in 1992. If students can’t read, they can’t succeed. Many drop out of school.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Reading is not a natural activity for the brain—struggling readers need activities that develop their brains to the fullest extent. It is well-documented by neuroscientists that making music, moving, and creative play develop a brain that is more capable of acquiring language, reading, focusing, planning, creating, focusing, and more.
WHAT'S THE SCIENCE?
Neuroscientist Dr. Nina Kraus’ research studies of auditory processing studies reveal that the brains of children who receive music instruction are able to match sounds to letters earlier, better understand speech in noisy backgrounds, and read at a higher level. Also, children who can’t keep a steady beat usually struggle with reading. Neuroscientist Dr. Usha Goswami’s studies of the brains of children with dyslexia show that it is caused by a poor sense of rhythm—their brains are less able to detect the “beats” in sounds that pulsate rhythmically. This can be remediated by beat-related activities such as speaking nursery rhymes and singing songs while keeping the beat.
THE ROCK 'N' READ PROJECT
Co-founded in 2014 by Bill Jones and Ann Kay, this nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization first purchased a retired city bus and created a mobile computer lab with 32 used computers and a software program that uses singing to boost reading achievement. In summer 2014, the bus served 200 students at a Minneapolis Public Schools summer school and the YMCA in North Minneapolis.
In May 2016, the MN Legislature awarded The Rock 'n' Read Project a $100,000 grant to launch a state pilot project with at least three schools. It will be overseen by the MN Department of Education in the 2016-'17 school year.
The Rock ‘n’ Read Project is now in five schools serving hundreds of struggling readers. The future goal is to reach all children who are not yet reading at grade level.
SINGING WITH SOFTWARE = 1 YEAR OF READING ACHIEVEMENT IN 13.5 HOURS
We are currently using TUNEin to READING (TiR), an individualized software intervention for struggling readers. It is easy, fun, and students love it. Research at the University of South Florida found that struggling readers who sing with TiR three times/week for 30 minutes for 9 weeks (13.5 hours) gain 1 year in reading achievement (avg.). TiR users outperformed non-TiR users on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in year-over-year gains for 5 consecutive years.
MINNESOTA RESULTS AFFIRM THE RESEARCH
Students at a Minneapolis public school achieved up to twice the reading achievement gain in 13.5 hours of TiR use than students who did not sing with the software. This affirms the results of research already conducted.