Thor Reading Lessons - Parent & Teacher User Guide

Welcome to Thor!  Our personalized, interactive phonics reading lessons are available for everyone, on mobile devices.  This Guide offers an understanding of how Thor works, and how to make the most of this learning tool with your learners.

Prerequisites

1.    Thor is best used on any Android device, 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.

3.    Learners who have not yet registered for Thor will need to do so.  Learners who have not logged into Thor will need to do so.  Once they are logged in, learners will be on the DASHBOARD page.

The First Step

All learners begin by tapping on “FIRST STEP” on the left of the top navigation menu. Thor will display a series of up to 8 sentences for the learner to read out loud, one at a time, to assess their current reading ability. This “first step” should be done with the parent/guardian or teacher to help accurately assess the responses.

After reading each sentence, the learner is asked if it was easy to read, or not.  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.

After the first step series is complete, Thor will give 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 lessons available will be displayed as gold buttons. The learner selects the lesson to work on by tapping the button for 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 speaks to the learner, first giving instruction on what to do (e.g. “Type this sentence”) and then clearly says the sentence (or word).

The learner then follows the instructions by using the virtual keyboard and taps the letters of each word.

Note: the learner must wait for all verbal instruction to be complete before being able to type and complete the exercise. When the verbal instruction is complete, the background color of the input field will turn from gold 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 an incorrect letter. If an error is made, the background of the screen immediately turns a red color and Thor says “Please try again.” The certainty of learning starts here. *See image 7 below.

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

There is also an image of an ear beside the “?” icon.  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 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