Spinout Stories Review


by Elizabeth Gowing
Norwood Achievement Partnership, UK






 I am a member of the Norwood Achievement Partnership ICT working party, a group of teachers from seven schools (secondary and primary) who meet every half term to share feedback on new software we have tried in the classroom. I used Spinout Stories with children in an inner city secondary school and both myself and the children found it an inspiring extension to our more traditional ways of teaching reading comprehension.

The CD ROM gives integrated support of reading, writing and spelling. I found the reading particularly helpful and really easily differentiated (there are three levels of difficulty for each story and a comprehension quiz, cloze activities, worksheets and wordsearches to accompany them). I also liked – and the SEN children I worked with really appreciated – the fact that the ICT skills you need to use the programme were basic, which meant they could focus on their development in English. They also liked the clear instructions and the ease of getting around the programme, with attractive illustrations.

The children I focused on were SEN children in secondary schools and when I shared what we had done with the rest of the ICT working party, the primary teachers felt it would be useful for mainstream work in Key Stage 2. And, although you can choose not to use this function, it is also particularly appropriate for EAL pupils as the text can be read out – in an authentic Neighbours Australian accent! It didn’t take long to set up as a teacher and it wasn’t just a ‘worksheet on screen’ – there were appropriate expectations of what the children should be doing. It was supportive enough that they could work independently and with constant reinforcement was suitable even for children with a short concentration span.

Spinout Stories is definitely a useful addition to your resource bank for teaching comprehension skills within reading and you will no doubt find – as I did – that your children thank you for using it!