Tech Tools for Reading

As our schools delves into how to address reading strategies with our students, we thought we would add a few suggestions of Tech tools and tips that may be useful to achieve this goal!  There are many websites, apps, and add-ons that help engage and support students in reading. Here are four that we think are useful:

 

  1. Immersive Reader in Word 

What is it?   Feature already available in online or desktop Word. Many other tools also include text-to-speech features.

What does it do? Reads aloud text that students have typed or that a teacher has prepared in a Word document. Useful to understand handouts and proofread during peer review.

How does it help with reading? “Text-to-speech tools helps students access content that’s difficult for them,” says Emily S. This means you can maintain rigor when the content requires reading. But text-to-speech “will not actually improve a student’s reading skills,” so be intentional about how you have students use this tool.

How do you access it? Go to the View tab > Immersive Reader in online or desktop Word.

 

 2. Insert Learning

What is it?   Chrome extension

What does it do? Lets you transform a webpage to support instruction by adding annotations, questions, discussion questions, videos, and more.

How does it help with reading? The variety of ways that Insert Learning transforms a webpage lets you scaffold website reading without having to print a huge number of different handouts and version of your classroom materials. The comprehension questions you can add promote analysis and critical thinking about the reading.

How do you access it? Install the extension from the Chrome Web Store or go to https://insertlearning.com/

 

 3. Rewordify

What is it?   A text-modification website

What does it do? It allows teachers to simplify a paragraph with easier vocabulary.

How does it help with reading? It increases the accessibility of a piece of text.

How do you access it? Copy-paste the text you need to adapt into the website https://rewordify.com/index.php

 

4. Britannica Schools

What is it?   Website Database available from Canvas or

What does it do? Students can use it to look up any information, just like a traditional encyclopedia. However, they can select which level they would like to read at and switch back and forth between languages.

How does it help with reading? It helps students to understand complex subjects and build content knowledge by reading it in both languages.  It is great for research projects or for students to strengthen their understanding of a topic.

Pro Tip: Encourage students to read it in English first to get the big ideas. Then switch to Chinese to understand more fully. Finally, switch back to English again to build academic language.  Some students may also prefer to read both in English and Chinese side by side.

How do you access it? Students and teachers can access Brittanica School directly from your Canvas account or they can go to https://school.eb.com/ . If they are on the school network, they will be logged in automatically.

 

Read Aloud Any Text in Mac!

Have you ever wonder what is the use of the “Speech” function in Preview? Well, literally, it can read you the selected text of the document.

 

Why should I listen to a text?

It may because you are tired of reading after a whole day’s work or you just want to try something new. Listen to a text activates a different part of your brain for decoding and comprehension. Listening to something also requires you to be focused in a different way than reading.

Why should my students listen to a text?

Although the computer-generated voice may not be the ideal choice for mimicking, students can adjust the speed, volume, gender and many more features of the sound so that they can follow along.  Also, if you ever have encountered a situation that after a whole unit of study on a certain topic, students still can’t say the key vocabulary out loud – it is reminding you to create more listening and speaking practice opportunities. The Speech function is easy and quick – when switched on from the system setting, the computer can read any selected text in Word, Preview, Browser, etc. It allows students to figure out the pronunciation by themselves in a very short time. Not even necessary to copy, open a dictionary app, paste, click for reading aloud. The keyboard shortcut can make it possible in a second.

How can I enable Speech function?

Step 1: In System Preferences, search Speech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Click on Speech, then enable the function by selecting the box. The default shortcut is Option+Esc, which I personally feel very easy to use. You can change to your preferred combination by clicking on the Change Key button.

Step 3: Select your preferred voice feature. Gender, region, speaking speed are all changeable.

Now, select any text on this page and try it out! Once you press the shortcut to speaking, you can switch to a different app/page and the text does not need to remain selected.

Endnote: If you have a student who struggles to speak any English, show him/her this feature and encourage him/her to use it outside the class. Language production requires a massive amount of input.

Happy reading/listening!

Tech Tools Inventory

As you go into planning a lesson, do you always go back to the same strategies? Are you getting tired of using the same programs every week?  Or do you ever get stuck just wishing you had a new way to engage students? Whether you are stuck in a rut or just needing a refresher, check out our new Tech Tools Inventory to get some new ideas!

Various Tech Tools are organized into categories by how they might be used in class. Looking for a new way to do an Exit Ticket? Try Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter, or Go Formative! Looking for a new way for students to process information? Try Mindmeister or Padlet! Wondering how you can have students present information in a new way? Try using CoSpaces or FlipaClip. Your NCPA Tech Ambassadors are always adding new ideas to the Tech Tools Inventory, so check back later for some new ideas.

We want to hear from you! Do you have a Tech Tool you want to share? You can also add to the Padlet with your ideas! Also, contact a Tech Ambassador if it is something you would like to share on the EdTech Blog or in a Breakfast Slam.

 

About Padlet Permissions

(Who is using Padlet? Chris R and Liza F, for starters.)

If you’re using Padlet in class, make sure you’re using NCPA’s subscription so you aren’t limited in the number of boards you can make. You’ll want to change the permissions of your padlet, though. By default, boards are private and no one else can see them. To change that, click the “Share” button in the top right:

Then, click on “Change Privacy”

The best option is to choose “Secret.” This will let you share a link with students and they won’t need to log in.

If you choose “Org wide,” students WILL have to log in to see the board, AND everyone at NCPA will see the padlet show up in their feed. You don’t want that.

If there is a situation where you want the students to have to log in, then contact the Tech Ambassadors (learninginnovation at ncpachina dot org) to learn about how students access their accounts.

 

Introduction to Nearpod

What are your “Catchphrases”?

One of my 7th Graders does a fantastic impression of me. Apparently, my three catch phrases are, “Class, class!” “Right now, we are going to…” and “Nearpod”.

So today, in the EduTech blog I want to share with you one of my favorite tech tools: Nearpod!

 

This week I will introduce you to what it is, key features, and how to sign up. Next week I will go into more detail on how to use it to collect and analyze data.

 

What is it?

Nearpod is a presentation tool like Powerpoint, but so much more. You can upload or create slides on Nearpod.com. Then you can add interactive elements, like polls, quizzes, short-answer questions, drawings, or even review games. Students go to Nearpod.com and enter in a code. This allows them to see the information on their own screen.  It allows you to share information and embed formative assessment. It also collects and stores data from all activities, so you can look back at it at any time.

 

Try it out! Go to Nearpod.com

Enter in the Code WZYMH to see a sample I made for MS teachers last year and try out some of the features.

Benefits of Nearpod:

Engagement-

Nearpod allows you to quickly and easily assess student understanding. If you just presented a few slides of information, put in a quiz to see how much they understood. Add a “Draw It” to ask them to draw their take-away from the information.  Use the “Time to Climb” game to engage students in a review of material. Students become involved in their learning, and you get immediate feedback on what they understand.

 

Proximity-

Since the information is on their own computer, iPad, or cell phone screen it allows everyone to see it clearly. When using a projector or tv screen, some students may have trouble seeing from around the room. With Nearpod, every student has easy access to the information. I have seen students take screenshots of key information or diagrams to save it for later as well.

If we are taking notes in class to introduce new vocabulary, I will put it on Nearpod. This allows all students to see the words more clearly.

 

Features in Nearpod:

With a free account:

Slides- Upload a PPT or make slides in Nearpod

Draw It- Students can draw pictures or annotate photographs to respond to a question

Quiz- Give questions with immediate feedback of score

Poll – Give questions to see overall class answers (great for pre- and post- assessment!)

Open-Ended Questions – Students type longer answers to respond to a question

Collaboration Board– Students can post ideas to brainstorm, just like a Padlet

3D Simulations- Explore 3D models, can take a screenshot and label in Draw It

 

With Gold Account:

Matching – Match words to picture or definition

Embed Web Links – Take students directly to a website, as if it were a slide in presentation

PhET Simulations – Embedded simulations in the lesson

Student Paced Lessons- Give students a code, and let them go through the Nearpod at their own pace. This works as homework, notes, review, or just in class to let students go through as they need to.

How to Sign Up:

Go to Nearpod.com and click on create an account.

 

Teach with Real-time Captions in Powerpoint!

If you use Microsoft Powerpoint Online to teach, you NEED to try this feature. What you say in class will be automatically captured and shown on the screen. A good tool to use if you know some students are struggling to understand English instructions.

To use this function,  you have to save your Powerpoint slides in your OneDrive or Sharepoint.

You will then need to change the settings for the slide show:

 

Choose English for both the Spoken language and the Subtitle Language.

You can choose Chinese as well! Just remember to select Chinese for both Spoken and Subtitle language.

Then choose where you want the subtitle to be – below slides works perfectly.

 

 

 

When you present the slides, click the subtitle button down in the left corner:

A confirmation page will show up the first time you use this function. Now anything you say will be transcribed on the screen!

 

Pros:

Scaffold Listening

If you have students who may shut-down for verbal instructions but do just fine with readings, this function may help them to process and decode spoken English.

Student Engagement

The time when Palacios and I accidentally switched it on, the students were amazed by being able to “see” what they hear. They paid close attention to what we said and were definitely cross-referencing that with the captions on the screen.

Easy Set-up

Since every teacher at NCPA has an Office 365 account, this function is ready to use. No need of registering /authorizing/linking your account with another website!

Go Wherever You Need

You may think you will have to stand right next to the computer so that it can pick up your words. However, real-use in the classroom has shown that the computer is able to detect utterance from the other side of the classroom (AQ1). Depending on your own setting, the situation may be slightly different – be flexible.

Cons:

Possible Longer Processing Time

Bilingual students process language in different ways – seeing English words may trigger Chinese translation on their minds. It is possible to cause some students a longer time to fully understand the whole situation because of the bi-sensory circumstance.

Only on Office 365

If you are not a fan of Microsoft Office, or if you prefer to use the app version of Powerpoint, you can’t use this function.

One Mic

You need to make sure you are the only person talking otherwise the subtitle will not make sense. Your computer is very sensitive to noise. It also means that if a student answers a question in English, Powerpoint can help to transcribe it.

 

Give it a try to see if it works for your class!

 

Acknowledge:

Thanks to @Palacios to notice this Powerpoint feature!

Resources:

Present with real-time, automatic captions or subtitles in PowerPoint

 

Seeing your Parent-Teacher Schedule

Until recently we haven’t had teachers log into SchoolsBuddy, the platform we use for ASA registration. However, we’re using SchoolsBuddy now to facilitate parent-teacher conference signups in the high school. HS Teachers, see the information below:

  1. How to see your parent-teacher schedule in SchoolsBuddy
  2. Make your parent-teacher conference schedule show in your Outlook calendar (note: the instructions use the URL “outlook.com” for your email in step 6, but you should use “mail.office365.com” as the URL.

Teacher apps for classrooms with 1 iPad

If you only have one iPad in the classroom don’t worry here are a few apps that you can use with all of your students.

Ibrainstorm
Use this app to create an interactive whiteboard, suited for brainstorming.


Wheeldecide
Sometimes it’s very quiet in the classroom when you ask a question. Try
using wheel decide to randomly pick out students. Change the words on the wheel into names, questions, calculation, terms or translations. Spin the wheel and let students solve the question or calculation.This one can be used on your computer as well as the iPad.

Pick teams
If you would like an app to randomly select teams, groups, or presenters this is the app for you. As a teacher it can be hard to evenly distributed groups of students for classroom exercises this app will help randomly select students and pair them up. With the pick teams app you can categorize your students on a scale of 1 to 8 and then quickly divide those students into any number of balanced groups or teams with the push of a button.