What is Stretch?
"Stretch" is a speed reading program that offers exercises designed to improve reading speed and comprehension. These exercises are an extension of the flash-card method used in school, but with much greater scope for vocabulary and the capability of flashing more than one word at a time. Stretch comes with a magnificent electronic manual and is easy to use in spite of having many features.
What does Stretch do?
Stretch flashes a group of words whose number is set according to your ability (set either manually or; automatically in a random test or by the mentor algorithm if in use). This number can be anywhere between one and one-hundred words flashed at a time (corresponding to between 100 and 10,000 words per minute estimated reading speed). While we remain sceptical about thorough reading speeds above 1200 words per minute, we have allowed sufficient room for you to prove us wrong. When you respond to a word flash by typing words in, Stretch assesses your accuracy and scores your performance based on the number of words, flash duration, use of capitals and/or punctuation, etc... As in any computer game, you play against your best score.
Stretch keeps a record of your performance, offers the option of multiple choice and restricted vocabulary for those new to English, tests to assess your progress, allows extensive configuration to tailor the program to your needs, and has comprehensive help files.
Current test results
Beta testers found Stretch enjoyable and even "addictive". Reading speed improvements were generally between 50-100%. Furthermore, the flash-card method, on which Stretch reading exercises are based, has been used successfully for years by primary school teachers to upgrade student literacy skills from phonic to the much faster and more comprehensive sight reading. For this reason, the effectiveness of Stretch is a forgone conclusion. Particularly in view of the favourable findings for the methods used by Stretch - See How does "STRETCH" Work? for more detail.
- The Stretch Advanced Sight Reading method that is an extension of the Flash Card system used in schools. Instead of flashing just one word, a number of words can be flashed together to allow for multiple word glance or multiple word flash capacities to be developed.
- Rapid consecutive attenuation exercises that use an all new scrolling flash of multiple word groups to help translate a good flash capacity into a rapid reading speed.
- Memory exercises using a multiple consecutive flash to help stretch your memory and allow greater increase in flash capacity.
- Extensive range of literature exemplifying nearly all subjects - See list above.
- Limited Vocabulary option and Multiple Choice option for ESL students
- Progressive and random testing that is positively addictive!
- Challenging Mentor Algorithm and Extensive Help Files
- Robust, state of the art package with customizable settings
- Import and rating facility for any new texts you may prefer
- Text pre-highlight to help with learning or improving your attenuation
- Optional case and punctuation assessment
- Repetition, control lock, sound, and typing speed options.
A list of the source material for Stretch is as follows:
- Abdu’l-Baha, 1913, Paris Talks, Religion.
- Aesop, 1887, The Parables of Aesop, Fiction, Parables.
- Boswell, J., 1791, The Life of Samuel Johnson, Biography.
- Bulfinch, T., 1863, Legends of Charlamagne, Fiction, Fantasy.
- Cooley, C. H., 1922, Human Nature and Social Order, Socialogy.
- Dante, A., 1321, The Divine Comedy, Fiction, Spiritual.
- Darwin, C., 1859, Origin of the Species, Biology.
- Darwin, C., 1882, Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants, Botany.
- Dickens, C., 1859, A Tale of Two Cities, Fiction, Classical.
- Doyle, A. C., 1908, The Bruce Parlington Plan, Fiction, Mystery.
- Einstein, A., 1920, Relativity: The Special and General Theory, Physics.
- Fabre, J. H., 1912, The Life of the Spider, Zoology.
- Fiske, J., 1872, Myths and Myth Makers, Mythology.
- Freud, S., 1900, The Interpretation of Dreams, Psychology.
- Gould, G. M., & Pyle, W. L., 1896, Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, Medicine.
- Headley, J. T., 1851, The Imperial Guard of Napoleon, History.
- Healy, A. H., 1906, Heroic Romances of Eire, Fiction, Ancient.
- Holmes, O. W. Jr., 1881, The Common Law, Law.
- Kant, I., 1871, The Critique of Pure Reason, Philosophy.
- Lang, A., 1912, The Faery Books, Fiction, Children’s.
- Lyell, C., 1833, Principles of Geology, Geology.
- Machiavelli, N., 1517, The Prince, Politics.
- Mendel, G., 1865, Experiments in Plant Hybridization, Genetics.
- Mohammed, 622, Quran, Scripture.
- Montgomery, L. M., 1908, Anne of Green Gables, Fiction, Social.
- Parker, K. L., 1905, The Euahlayi Tribe, Anthropology.
- Pasteur, L., 1878, Germ Theory and Application to Medicine and Surgery, Pathology.
- Pasteur, L., 1879, Papers on Fermentation, Biochemistry.
- Scott, W. D., 1911, Increasing Human Efficiency in Business, Commerce.
- Smith, A., 1776, Wealth of Nations, Economics.
- Stoker, B., 1897, Dracula, Fiction, Horror.
- Tolstoy, L., 1869, War and Peace, Fiction, Epic.
- U.S.A, 1971, The Constitution of the United States of America, Legislation.
- Verne, J., 1870, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Fiction, Science.
- Wallace, L. 1880, Ben Hur, Fiction, Adventure.
- Williams, R. P., 1896, An Introduction to Chemical Science, Chemistry.
How can Stretch assist the improvement of reading skills?
There are three ways that Stretch can assist in the improvement of reading skill (More information on How Stretch Works):
Firstly, the arcade/computer game scoring method is well known for challenging people to very high levels of skill in computer games. It is known that by injecting a little of this self-competition into a program, one can inspire the user to better her/him-self in the skills required in that program. The development of high scores in computer games, are a prime example of this fact. It is possible that the biggest advantage of "Stretch" is that it is fun, and has even been described by some people as, "addictive". Learning is second nature when one is having fun, and in this application the fun is to be had in bettering your own score. If anything, it is this that drives the effectiveness of this program. Markstahler(1990) found that the greatest learning success was achieved through the use of entertainment in the learning programme.
Secondly, the flash card method is employed to help the user to absorb more and more words at a glance. This will improve reading speed by increasing the amount of text that is absorbed in each glance in the same way that replacing phonic reading with sight reading increases reading speed. It is also documented that comprehension is improved by the flash-card method (DeVries et al., 1975). I would further suggest that the larger the clause or phrase that can be taken in at a glance, the longer and more complex a sentence structure that can be read on the first pass.
Thirdly, the user is required to type in a complete answer. This approach is known to improve spelling (Cohen et al., 1988). Included are texts from a wide range of subjects are employed to offer material in different dialects or writing styles of English. The default text, "Paris Talks", is a collection of notes taken by different people from various talks translated by different people. The style of English varies widely, and it would seem to be a good all-round text.
Cohen, A. L., et al., 1988, “Improving Speed and Accuracy of Word Recognition in Reading Disabled Children: An Evaluation of Two Computer Program Variations.”, Learning-Disability-Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp333-341.
Markstahler, M., 1990, “Increasing Sight Vocabulary Skills of First Grade Students: A Three Step Approach.”, M. S. Practicum, Nova University, 52 pp.
DeVries, David L.; et. Al., July 1, 1975, “Teams-Games-Tournament (TGT) Effects on Reading Skills in the Elementary Grades.”, Reading and Communication Skills (CS002075) Report No. 200, 27pp.