Wonderful things can happen when you are open to unexpected possibilities. That's one lesson I take from the story that starts with a software program called Singing Coach. Carlo Franzblau had wanted to learn to sing since he was an off-key teenager with musical theater aspirations. In 2000 he developed Singing Coach, software with an American-Idol-in-training vibe. Users sing karaoke-style into a microphone and the software tells them whether their pitch is too high, too low, or in tune.
While performing quality-control tests on Singing Coach, Franzblau received some unexpected feedback: one of the first testers was a middle school student named Ashleigh who happened to be a struggling reader, and her mother reported that the singing software was improving her daughter's reading.
Franzblau pursued this unexpected finding with gusto. He teamed up with literacy professor Dr. Susan Homan at the University of South Florida to conduct a research study to see if Ashleigh's finding represented a genuine effect. Dr. Homan found that struggling readers benefited greatly from the program, raising their test scores by more than a whole grade level after nine weeks of training with the singing program, which has been redeveloped specifically as a reading intervention called "Tune In to Reading." The kids who used Tune In To Reading sustained their gain, continuing to make progress six months later even when they were not using the program.… Read more