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Computer-Based Instruction that Produces Catch-Up Growth

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Funnix Reading Instruction

Funnix is computer-based reading instruction program containing a carefully sequenced series of small-step reading lessons developed by the author of Direct Instruction.  It is inexpensive, effective, and requires no teaching experience.

Funnix was designed for use by parents but can be used by classroom aides, trained volunteers, and teachers with up to 5 children at a time. In this video, a parent teaches two children who are on a first grade level.  One of the two had been struggling with reading.    

In the school environment, Funnix can be used as an intervention program, as a supplemental program, as a summerschool or after-school program, or as a program for children with learning challenges.  Funnix has been extensively researched and field tested in homes and classrooms.  

Each lesson introduces a few things that are new and weaves them into applications that involve familiar words and skills. Around 10 % of each lesson is new. The rest is made up of familiar parts.

Children do not struggle with Funnix because each lesson is designed to avoid introducing anything that will be over the child’s head.  If they are challenged, the material is reviewed repeatedly in succeeding lessons.  Completion of the 220 thirty-minute lessons virtually assures reading mastery to the second grade level.  

The goal of Funnix is to teach K-2 reading skills in a way that is both enjoyable and effective.  It does so by ensuring that the child learns how to decode accurately and fluently while reading stories written in “authentic language,” not the highly stilted prose that occurs in some phonics programs (Jill will fill and spill).

The Funnix narrator provides expert instruction controlling for time spent on new materials, adequate practice, teacher feedback, and sequencing of skills. Lessons do not focus on an individual skill, rather each lesson works on five or more skills that are practiced and applied in multiple successive lessons. Phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary are addressed.

For an extended look at a parent-led lesson, click here.  For a free Funnix demo and downloads, click here.  For more information about Funnix features, design, development, research, and usage guides, visit the Funnix website: https://www.funnix.com/

Tips for Teachers and Tutors

Funnix is easy to use and effective because every step has been tested and refined on the basis of feedback from teachers and children. Here is a list of practical tips drawn from their experience: TIPS FOR USING FUNNIX

Empirical Studies of Funnix

Parlange, L. A. (2004). The effects of the Funnix beginning reading program on the reading skills of preschoolers (Unpublished paper, Eastern Washington University).

Pindiprolu, S. S. & Forbush, D. (2008-9) Evaluating the promise of computer-based reading interventions with students with reading difficulties. I-Managers Journal on School Educational Technology 4 (3), 41-49

Stockard, J. (2010). Promoting early literacy of preschool children: A study of the effectiveness of Funnix Beginning Reading. Journal of Direct Instruction, 10(Winter), 29-48.

Watson, T., & Hempenstall, K. (2008). Effects of a computer based beginning reading program on young children. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(3), 258-274.

Comprehensive Bibliography on Direct Instruction:


Foreword to The Science and Success of Engelmann’s Direct Instruction by Jean Stockard:


Available on Amazon

Clear Teaching by Shepard Barbash