When a large box arrived on my doorstep, I got very excited! It wasn’t my birthday, not my anniversary, but I was convinced I was getting a present of some sort. It was heavy too! And although it turned out not to be a present of any sort, but a product to review, I was a little bit excited anyway. The Comprehension Box looks mighty impressive on the outside.
On the inside you’ll find 150 comprehension cards along with corresponding answer cards and a teachers’ guide book. Each comprehension card contains a different piece of text, from poetry to stories to non-fiction. On the back of each card are some multiple choice questions. The idea, is that children get to answer the questions, then they can get the corresponding answer card and check whether they are correct or not.
Relevance to Curriculum Aims: 4/5
It’s difficult to fault the programme for helping children to consolidate comprehension strategies. While really no different to a book with the answers in the back, this package is simply a more colourful and more interesting version of this. An advantage of the packaging is that a child will find it difficult to cheat as they will have to answer the questions honestly before checking the answers on the separate card. There are a number of useful assessment photocopiables, which are ok.
Teacher Usability: 3/5
Picture the scene. “OK Johnny, time for your comprehension work. Go to the Comprehension Box and do one of the Emerald cards.” Johnny goes to the box, takes out a card and then asks for a piece of paper or gets his copybook. The company missed a BIG opportunity to make the cards dry-wipe here. Anyway, a few minutes later Johnny has the answers written down somewhere and asks the teacher for the answer card. The teacher gives him the appropriate card and Johnny corrects his work. Johnny then self-evaluates on one of the photocopiable sheets and he’s done….and so are you! (Apart from checking out how Johnny did, obviously!)
As a pack in itself, it probably doesn’t need many extras but, like many of these packs, they miss the ball when it comes to ICT integration, which would be so easy to do. An accompanying CD-ROM with the comprehension cards in electronic format would be great for Interactive Whiteboards. If they were really clever, they could have created a “Design your own Comprehension Card” set where children could create their own printable cards. Alas, this isn’t the case, but maybe in a future version.
The Comprehension box is a decent pack, which will give a slightly different way to teach comprehension strategies. The content is excellent, there’s no doubt about that, but it would have been nice had they pushed the boat out a little bit more to make it more interactive.