The students’ choice for reading practice
In case you missed it, eSpark celebrated the back-to-school season this year with the release of a revolutionary, AI-powered reading experience called Choice Texts. This new activity type harnesses the power of student choice and agency to make every reading lesson a unique, highly personalized experience for students based on their interests.
Of all the work we’ve done over the years to build and improve eSpark, the response to Choice Texts has been emotional in a way we haven’t experienced before. This holds especially true for reluctant readers, who have approached their personalized texts with wonder and excitement, impressing their teachers with how immersed they become in the reading, and how much more engaged they are in the lesson.
Here’s a comprehensive overview of both the teacher and student experience:
Traditionally, the concepts of “student choice” and “personalization” in online learning programs have been limited to algorithmic sequencing of pre-built lessons based on student proficiency levels or superficial changes to lessons based on small illusions of choice. With Choice Texts, each student’s lesson is quite literally evolving in real time based on their inputs.
That means that instead of every student working from pre-selected texts that may or may not be relatable or interesting to them, they will now be able to learn from texts they help to create and topics that align with what they care about. All students are still learning, practicing, and mastering the right skills based on their levels and learning gaps, they’re just doing it in a much more personal environment.
How Choice Texts works
Students encounter Choice Texts in most K-8 Reading Literature and Reading Informational Quests on their adaptive path, and in dozens of new assignable Small Group Skills. Early readers will also experience the magic of Decodable Choice Texts in their Reading Foundational work. The activity starts with their co-creator, Rocky, walking them through a series of prompts that will shape their story. In the Reading Literature domain, these prompts include both pre-selected options and freeform text fields, enabling infinite possibilities with every story. Reading Informational Choice Texts feature hundreds of possible branches ranging from science and nature to YouTube personalities, all of which have been pre-vetted for integrity and age-appropriateness.
Once all the choices have been made, Choice Texts generates a story in real-time, transporting students to a world of their making with characters and themes they’ve helped to shape. Nothing compares to the look on their faces as the story unfolds in front of them. The experience includes multiple layers of scaffolding, including the option for students at different reading levels to make the text easier or get audio support.
But the story is just the first step. Once a student is done reading, they will be presented with comprehension questions aligned with the standard they’re working on. If they get one wrong, Rocky will jump in with real-time feedback to point them in the right direction. Choice Texts is like a game, reading assignment, assessment, and remediation tool all in one!
Why Choice Texts works
Numerous studies have shown what teachers have always known to be true: engaged students learn more. There is also ample evidence that student choice, even in the early grades, can be a “powerful motivator” for students, leading to higher levels of buy-in and improved student outcomes. Choice Texts works because it makes the learning process fun and exciting for students—every lesson is a student-centered, choose-your-own-adventure experience that gives students a level of agency not previously possible.
Unique insights for teachers
Because teachers can see every Choice Text created by their students, we see this as a great opportunity to keep your finger on the pulse of your classroom throughout the year. It should prove especially helpful early in the school year as you get to know your new students for the first time.
A playfully personalized vision for the future
As technology continues to evolve, the entire concept of personalized learning is changing before our eyes. Students now have access to more real-time feedback, differentiation, and support than ever before. eSpark remains focused on being the students’ choice for instruction and practice, combining standards-aligned lessons with a unique sense of ownership and fun. This playfully personalized approach keeps students engaged and motivated while promoting consistent growth and improved outcomes on standardized tests.