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Reading for Meaning Reviews

This review reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, and is provided as a service to Education World readers. The review in no way constitutes an endorsement of the product or its manufacturer by those teachers or by Education World.


Reading for Meaning by Tom Snyder Productions is designed to improve student reading comprehension and provide practice in such skills and concepts as main idea, inference, sequence, cause and effect, and compare and contrast. The program includes 35 lessons, complete with authentic literature by such authors as Robert Frost, Jack London, Louis Sachar, and more. In addition, teachers can use the graphic organizers with, and apply the four-step process to, their own literature selections. All lessons can be used with a whole class, small groups, or individual students.

Recently, Education World asked five reviewers, all teachers or educational technology specialists, to check out Reading for Meaning with real students in actual classroom situations. Each teacher was asked to use Reading for Meaning with his or her students for a period of at least one month, note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program, record personal observations or suggestions -- both positive and negative -- and rate the software on a scale of 1 to 4.

The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!



overall chart

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"I am definitely requesting that we purchase this program."

At this point, the reading teachers in my school have indicated that unless our own content can be added to this program, it would not be widely used. We are using a graphic organizer we already own to work with some of the skills presented in this program very effectively.


"No problems."

"All this was fine."

"No problems encountered. Simple install."

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"Overall, screen presentations were intuitive. There was one page for teachers, titled Learn More Classroom Lessons, in which icons appeared to be clickable but weren't."

"Students liked using the software individually. Because we did not have headphones for everyone, things got a bit noisy when they played selections -- but they were still happy."

"It would be nice if work sheets could be viewed onscreen before printing. We couldn't figure out how to do this."

"This program was very effective for group instruction and OK for individual instruction as well."

I found this program very usable. The tutorial was very informative, and I felt well prepared afterwards to use it with students.

The software is well organized and does not need much teacher intervention to work well with students. I would not, however, assign this completely independently, as it has been our experience with students who are struggling readers that they do not use tools even this good without guidance and periodic intervention by the teacher. I would suggest some of the work should be individual, and some should be presented in a group format for discussion prior to individual students completing their work. We now use most managed software this way.

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"We have thin clients running from a server and load times were acceptable."

"Download time was slow using a DSL line. Schools without fast connections might have an issue with speed."

"No performance problems were encountered."

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"In Texas, our students do lots of drills using very structured software that looks and acts just like the TAAS test format. They found the Reading for Meaning format to be a welcome change. Teachers liked the fact that the TAAS skills were presented but in a different manner."

"The students really liked the sound."

"The selections were read well."

"I was especially pleased with the selections, quality, interest level, and variety of the reading material. Readings were grade-level appropriate and allowed for varying abilities."

"The graphic organizers in this program were a compelling feature. They are excellent tools, well planned for the various goals."

"The software was engaging and held student interest."

"Students were very excited every time they used this program."


"I would like to be able to add my own selections of reading and could not figure out how to do so. If this is not a current feature, it would be a very good one. If we were able to add our own reading and fit it into this format, it would be a more useful tool. This is, however, a good remedial tool for those students who are in extra remedial reading classes.

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"Online support was fine for our needs."

"I did not have to contact technical support; however, I have used the Tom Snyder technical support in the past and found them extremely supportive and easy to work with."

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