Rosen’s LevelUp | Reference Database Review

An online platform with nonfiction and fiction ebooks, LevelUp offers literacy instruction and adaptive, assessment-based recommendations for students and a full range of instructional tools and resources for teachers.

URL levelupreader.com

Grade Level PreS-Gr 2

Cost For a price quote, please ­contact (800) 237-9932.

Grade Level PreS-Gr 2

Content An online platform with nonfiction and fiction ebooks, LevelUp offers literacy instruction and adaptive, assessment-based recommendations for students and a full range of instructional tools and resources for teachers.

The database features more than 2,300 books, including about 700 Spanish language or bilingual titles.

When a student first logs in, a 25-question “intake assessment” must be completed to determine reading level according to the Lexile scale. The quiz includes short passages of text with multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank answers. Next, the student is brought to a “bookshelf” page populated with covers of developmentally appropriate titles. After the student completes a book, a “because you read…” section suggests related texts. Titles can be added to a “my favorites” list.

The controls are not always immediately intuitive. In order to zoom, readers must click first on a magnifying glass icon and then click again inside the book. The zoom function has only one setting, rather than a sliding scale.

Books are easily accessible from the database and may be projected to a screen for whole-class read-aloud or instruction. LevelUp functions within a web browser on mobile devices, though the design is not fully optimized for the reduced screen size of a phone. Text on the mobile version is small and difficult to enlarge.

Users have the option of a “read-aloud” function, with automated highlighting that moves along as the text is narrated. When navigating within a book, readers must advance page by page rather than jumping directly to a particular page. Neither citations nor bibliographic information for nonfiction resources is included.

An interactive phonics program helps students build awareness of phonemes, beginning in kindergarten with identifying capital and lowercase letters and progressing through eight units to compound words, apostrophes, and homophones in first grade.

The phonics lessons can be self-paced if assigned to students individually, but there is no obvious indicator for when a particular page is finished and it’s time to click to the next page.

Books or phonics lessons that are not completed appear in a “continue reading” bar and may be opened again wherever the reader left off.

One of the more unusual aspects of the platform is LevelUp Land, an expansive and immersive game environment similar to Minecraft or Fortnite, where students earn credits, or stars, for each book and assessment completed. The credits may be spent within the game to acquire characters and props and to unlock additional scenes. Navigation with a mouse or arrow keys can be somewhat awkward, as can determining the progress and organization of the game. But students used to 3D electronic game play should adapt quickly.

Teachers may restrict the amount of time a student spends in the game during school hours, or even block a student from the game altogether.

Student and teacher resources Both teachers and students have a “bookshelf” page, with search box and lists of book suggestions, either from selected categories (history, health and daily life, etc.) or based on reading history.

The teacher account includes a “my collection” tab for organizing a sort of classroom library (student accounts have a “my favorites” tab). Teachers also have access to a “my classroom” tab, which displays a student list with current Lexile level and quiz frequency setting, as well as a toggle that allows the teacher to include short answer questions in the otherwise multiple-choice quizzes and to trigger a progress monitoring or new intake quiz.

Icons next to each book allow the teacher to add it to “my collection” or to assign it to groups or to individual students.

When a book is opened from the teacher account, a pop-up window appears with links to printable resources such as book report templates or a compare and contrast organizer; a printable PDF of the book is also available.

Students have a “my report” page that logs books read, pages read, quizzes completed, and stars earned.

An administrative account provides comprehensive reports, including books and pages read, quizzes taken, and average quiz score. Reports may be filtered by grade level, language, and school in the case of a district level administration.

Verdict In light of the coronavirus pandemic and widespread stay-at-home orders, many school systems are working overtime to shore up or to create new plans for distance learning. Ebooks and online content platforms are in demand right now.

Despite some quirks and occasionally frustrating navigation elements, Rosen’s LevelUp is a smooth, reader-friendly ebook platform, similar in experience to myON or TumbleBooks, coupled with a broad set of instructional tools for teachers and utilities for classroom management and data reporting.

Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson M.S., Falls Church, VA

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