User Guide for parents and teachers

Thor Reading Lessons

Welcome to Thor!  Your children or students or friends can use our reading lessons on any Android device.  This Guide will tell you how Thor works.

The people you are helping will be able to make the most of Thor.

What you need to start

1.    Thor works best on Android devices, along with a recent version of Chrome as your browser.  Apple and other devices, and Safari or other browsers, produce confusing results.

2.    The learner must know how to use the keyboard on the Android device.  Ideally the learner should know where some of the most common letters are.

3.    Learners who have not yet registered for Thor will need to do so.  The learners can register for the first time by clicking "Register for Free."  They will be asked to submit their email, login password, name, age, country code and promotion code.   Once registered, learners who have not logged into Thor will need to do so.  Once they are logged in, learners will be on the DASHBOARD page.

4.    For new learners, detailed vocal instructions must be given by the teacher on how to use the lessons.  The teacher must also watch the learner's progress closely during the first few lessons.  This is to ensure that the learner fully understands how the lessons work.  At the same time, the teacher may review the audit report (as recorded by the Thor software) to make sure the learner is clicking properly, trying to master the lessons, without skipping quickly over to the next lessons.

The First Step

All learners begin by tapping on “FIRST STEP” on the left of the navigation menu, at the top of the screen. Thor will show up to 8 sentences, one after the other.  The learner will read each sentence out loud to the teacher. This “first step” should be done with the parent/guardian or teacher to help accurately assess the responses.

The learner must read out loud to the parent/teacher, so that the learner's reading level will be evaluated accurately.  If the learner has no problem with any of the letters in the sentence, then "Yes" will be tapped.  If the learner hesitates at any letter in the sentence, then "No" will be tapped.  If the learner taps “Yes,” then a more difficult sentence appears.   If the learner taps “No”, then an easier sentence appears. *See image 1 below.

When the first step series is complete, Thor will show the learner the starting lesson at their appropriate learning level based on their responses. *See image 2 below.

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How Thor Lessons Work

To begin a group of lessons, the learner taps on the green arrow image (*see Image 2 above.) The five lessons in that step will be shown as gold buttons. The learner taps one of the lessons to work on it. *See image 3 below.

The next screen displays “A Basic Phonics Lesson for Beginning Readers” with a green flashing arrow. The learner taps the green arrow to begin. *See image 4 below.

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Thor then speaks to the learner, first telling the learner what to do (e.g. “Type this sentence”).  Then the voice clearly says the sentence (or word).

The learner then follows the instructions by tapping the letters of each word on the screen's keyboard.

Note: the learner must wait for the voice to stop talking, and only then type on the screen. When Thor's voice stops talking, the gold color will turn to green. Green allows the typing to begin. *See images 5 and 6 below.

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Thor will not allow the learner to enter a wrong letter. If an error is made, the screen turns red.  Thor says “Please try again.” Mastery learning starts here. *See image 7 below.

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If the learner gets stuck on an answer, there is a “?” on the screen that can be tapped. Thor will then show the answer to the learner. However, the learner will still have to type the right letter. This helps the learning process.

There is also an image of an ear beside the “?”.  Tapping the ear will cause Thor to repeat the word or sentence out loud. *See image 8 above.

When each part of the lesson is finished, a green arrow will appear. The learner taps the green arrow to continue.

When the entire lesson is successfully completed, some fun short movie clips will appear. *See image 9 below.

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To begin the next lesson, the learner taps on the “Home” button in the bottom right corner of the screen (a house icon image.) This will display the five lessons available again, and show the ones completed with a green background. The learner taps on the next lesson to start again. *See image 10 above.

Notes

The Thor phonics reading program contains a total of 505 lessons in three series:

  • SERIES A contains 180 lessons. It features the short vowel sounds of “a, e, i, o, and u” – as in “hat, men, bit, got, and run.”
  • SERIES B contains 180 lessons. It deals with beginning and ending consonant blends - as in “drip and milk.”
  • SERIES C contains 145 lessons. The work is with vowel pairs - such as “ee and ea.”

The lessons within each series are divided into groups of five, e.g., lessons 1-5, 6-10, etc.  Each lesson includes ten words, and each word has approximately five letters.

Each group of five lessons emphasizes one or more letter patterns.  These include the beginning consonant blend “sn,” as in “snap” – or the ending consonant blend “1p,” as in “help.” The learner always works with complete sentences. The sentences build slowly on these letter patterns. There are more than 1,000 sentences in the phonics program. Each learner works with all of them.

The words "a" and "the" are the only words in the whole phonics program that do not have the "regular" sounds of the other letter patterns. The word "a" appears in Lesson 1. The word "the" is first used in Lesson 221.

Note:  The most important point of teaching phonics is to help learners acquire the skills needed to decode English letters instantly. Odd sentences – such as “Can a big pig jig?” are frequently used to serve this purpose.

Other words used in the program that are not usually given to beginning readers offer extra vocabulary development. For example, small words such as "nab" and "gab" fit nicely into a phonics approach to instruction.

Thor uses the same “mastery learning” as Khan Academy. Each step must be mastered, before the next is begun. Also, each of the lessons must be finished correctly, before the next one is started.  Most English words can be sounded out correctly, from the letters. These words are taught first.

The phonics lessons enable the learner to master the “regular” sound of each letter. Learners gain confidence from learning the rules, which are usually reliable.

Later, learners learn the exceptions. But most important words sound as their phonics would suggest. 

Below is an image of what a Progress Chart looks like:

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Educational Theory Behind Thor

  • Word decoding should be separated from word comprehension.
  • If you can spell it, you can read it.
  • Never show incorrect responses.
  • Always provide instant feedback, keystroke by keystroke
  • Require mastery learning at all times:
    • Never move on until the current material is mastered
    • Build on previous content when introducing new materal