Reading Mentor FAQs

How can I make sure my brand new Reading Mentor™ is working properly?

Carriage Lock: Move the Carriage Lock Switch (located on the bottom of the unit next to the Battery Compartment) to the unlocked position. The Reading Mentor™ will only operate in the Unlocked Position.

Power Source: Please make sure that four C batteries are inserted properly into the Battery Compartment or the AC adapter is securely attached to the unit and plugged into an electrical socket. Once this has been established, turn the unit on using the On/Off/Volume Control switch on the right side of the unit. Power being on is designated by the red Power Light being lit.

NOTE: For optimum performance of your Reading Mentor™, we strongly recommend using the AC adapter that is provided with this product. This adapter was designed specifically for use with the Reading Mentor™ and protects the unit from fluctuations in power that can be harmful to the unit's motor.

How to best ensure that rods are read correctly by the Reading Mentor™:

Make Sure the Rods are Clean and Unscratched: Clean, unscratched Reading Rods® are read with a much higher degree of success. Wipe with a non-abrasive clean, moist cloth to ensure cleanliness.Reading Rods are Read On Top: The Reading Mentor™ reads the letters on the topmost surface of the Reading Rods®.Use the Correct Mode: Make sure the correct mode has been selected. For example, only letter rods can be used in Letter Mode (picture rods cannot be read). In Sentence Mode, only whole word rods and word ending rods can be used. Make Sure the Rods are Attached Firmly: Please make sure the rods are firmly attached to each other as loosely attached rods are difficult for the Reading Mentor™ to read. Are the Rods Compatible? Make sure only compatible Reading Rods® are being used. The Reading Mentor™ cannot read Spanish Reading Rods®, rods with red print, picture rods or blank rods with hand printed letters.

Are they the real "Reading Rods®"? The Reading Mentor™ exclusively reads Reading Rods® branded products, which can easily be distinguished by star-shaped opening on the bottom of each rod. The Reading Mentor™ will not read imitations of Reading Rods®.

How long does it take for the Reading Mentor™ to read the rods?

It will vary, as the Reading Mentor™ filters through Over 23,000 Words, Sounds or Letters to find and pronounce the correct one: The Reading Mentor™ uses state-of-the-art Optical Reader technology, but because it has such a large memory (over 23,000 words, sounds and letters), the Reading Mentor™ needs time to accurately read, display and speak the Rods that have been inserted.

What has occurred if the unit beeps and shows (****) on screen?:

Rods were not Read Correctly or a misspelled word was entered: This error tone indicates that one or more of the rods were not read correctly. Please make sure the rods that were inserted are clean and securely attached and insert the rods again. For a misspelled word, the Reading Mentor™ will display the word, but will also beep and will not pronounce it. The word can also be sounded-out if the "Sound It" button is pressed. Make Sure to Use the Correct Mode: Confirm a mode has been selected. NOTE: If in Sentence mode, only whole word rods and word ending rods can be used. Blocked (Inappropriate) word entered: A blocked (inappropriate) word was entered. The Reading Mentor™ will not display, read or sound out blocked words.

Word Not Found in Database: A word not found in the Reading Mentor™ database was entered. The Reading Mentor™ has a dictionary of over 23,000 words, including every letter, sound, word and sentence used in all Reading Rods® activity guides. Occasionally a user might insert a word that is not recognized, the Reading Mentor™ will sound out the word (through phonemes), but will not read unknown words.

What should I do if the rods get stuck?

Don't Worry, Be Gentle: To release Rods, please follow this procedure - Press the Release Button on the back of the Reading Mentor™ and while holding this button down, turn the unit off, then unplug the adapter from the unit. While still holding the Release Button down, gently free the object from the channel. Do not push or pull rods out of the Rod Channel as this can cause damage to the motor and/or the belt.

NOTE: Use this same procedure if any foreign object becomes lodged in the Rod Channel.

What should I do if there is no sound?

No Sound Through Speaker: Check the Volume Control lever on the right side of the unit to make sure the volume is at an audible level. Also, make sure there are no headphones plugged into Headphone Jack A, as this mutes the speaker. No Sound Through Headphones: Check the Volume Control lever on the right side of the unit to make sure the volume is at an audible level.

Check the Power Source: Confirm batteries are fresh or recharged.

What if the headphones are plugged in but there is still sound coming from the speakers?

For Quiet Use: To disable (mute) the speaker, make sure one set of headphones are plugged into Headphone Jack A, which mute's the speaker.

What does "No Rod Entry. Please Try Again." on the display screen mean?

Rods not far enough into Rod Channel: Rod(s) have not been placed far enough into the Rod Channel. Gently push rods into the Rod Channel until they begin to move forward on their own.

How can I adjust the contrast on the screen?

Use Contrast Control Dial to adjust: You can adjust the contrast of the screen using the Contrast Control dial on the left side of the unit, move the dial toward you to make the screen lighter and away from you to make the screen darker.

NOTE: A very dark screen with reversed out *'s are a signal that the Contrast Control dial should be adjusted to a lighter setting.

What if the sound is unclear or the scanning is incorrect?

Check Volume Levels: If volume is distorted (too high), lower the volume level. If increased volume is needed, attach any standard computer speakers for amplification.

Check Power Supply: Make sure the power supply to the unit is sufficient. The AC adapter must be properly plugged into the unit and the electrical outlet or fresh batteries must be correctly installed.

Word pronunciation by the Reading Mentor™:

Words Spelled the Same, but Pronounced Differently: The Reading Mentor™ uses Standard American English pronunciation. In the case of more than one word spelled the same but pronounced differently (homographs), the Reading Mentor™ will use the more common pronunciation and meaning of that specifically spelled word.

Does the Reading Mentor™ read all existing Reading Rods®?

The Reading Mentor™ Reads Most, but not all Reading Rods®: The Reading Mentor™ will not read Spanish Reading Rods®, Rods with red letters, or blank rods with letters hand written.

Does the Reading Mentor™ recognize punctuation?

The Reading Mentor™ only recognizes certain Punctuation: The Reading Mentor™ recognizes some punctuation like question marks and apostrophe's, it does not read or display periods.

Does the Reading Mentor™ read rods from other companies?

Reading Mentor™ only reads Reading Rods® Branded Rods: The Reading Mentor™ was created exclusively for use with Reading Rods® branded products, which are easily distinguishable by their star-shaped opening at the bottom of each rod.

How many students can use the Reading Mentor™ at one time?

Great for individual use or Small Groups: The Reading Mentor™ was designed specifically for individual use or in groups of up to 4 (i.e. Reading Centers, independent use, paired practice, etc). With headphones, up to four students can use the Reading Mentor™ at one time. The Reading Mentor™ is not intended for whole class use or broadcasting.

Does the Reading Mentor™ come with Reading Rods®?

Very few: There are some Word Ending Rods included that are meant for use with Sentence Building or Simple Sentence rods (not included). The Word Ending rods cannot be used on their own. To get the most effective use of the Reading Mentor™, it is recommended that a sufficient amount of Reading Rods® are available for use with this product, and that the rods support a specific area of language.

When sounding out words, the Reading Mentor™ will occasionally combine letters, why?

The Reading Mentor™ teaches through individual sounds: To teach students proper pronunciation, the individual sounds in each word must be provided and practiced. The Reading Mentor™ has the unique ability to separate every word in its database into individual sounds, or phonemes. Even if it means that two or more letters (like "sh", "th", "ph", etc) make up an individual sound, or digraph, the Reading Mentor™ has the capability to group the letters together to correctly teach that individual sound, or phoneme.

The "voice" of the Reading Mentor™:

The Reading Mentor™ teaches many different students at many different levels: The Reading Mentor™ is not meant to teach fluency. It teaches word study and basic pronunciation through phonics activities, and grammar through sentence structure activities.

The "silent E":

The Reading Mentor™ also has the ability to distinguish and teach the "silent e" in words.

NOTE: Though the "silent e" in Reading Rods® Activity Guides is taught with the "e" on the white rod, the Reading Mentor™ will teach this principle with any color rod that has an "e".

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