Weatherford Democrat

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April 22, 2014

Interactive reading program comes to Curtis

By SALLY SEXTON

A new reading trend has been sweeping the country — Wandoo Planet, an interactive reading program that allows kids to choose books based on their interests.

“It’s an engagement platform that is similar to Netflix or Spotify,” Lindsey Hill, lead for reading engagement initiatives at Evanced Solutions, which developed Wandoo, said. “Based on the interests of the child, Wandoo Planet recommends books and movies that kids can consume and helps get and keep them engaged.

“They get a recommendation and they can take it to their library or, in some cases, their own bookshelf.”

In March, Wandoo representatives set out from Austin on a country-wide journey to visit different campuses and introduce the platform. The tour ends in June in Las Vegas.

Last week, Wandoo Planet’s 18-foot van showed up at Curtis Elementary to speak with students and staff.

Inside the van, students can interact with Whatchu Wandoo, the platform’s website. 

The concept involves students playing a game to determine what their interests are. The interests when start to grow into an interest tree that may “bud” with suggested kid-friendly content directly related to their interests. Students may also pass along their interests to others.

“Wandoo Forest grows out of kids consuming and watching and reading different content pieces based on their interest,” Hill said.

Hill, who taught for 14 years, said the idea behind the program is to really get kids involved.

“We’re trying to get as many kids in the beta process as we can,” she said. “We’ve involved kids from the naming of the product to the content in the game.

“We surveyed around 1,500 kids to try and capture different interests. There’s an outgoing learning system behind it.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to help students improve reading proficiency as 72 percent of students in Texas are not proficient in reading by the time they reach the fourth grade, Hill added.

Anyone interested in finding out more information about the program can visit www.wandooplanet.com or go to wandooplanet.info.

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