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.

 

Create Fillable Forms in MS Word

If you don’t have PDF editing software like Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can still easily create fillable forms using Microsoft Word. Avita recently used this feature to create internal forms for the counseling department.

Follow these instructions from Microsoft to create your form or watch this video from a guy on YouTube.

Office for Mac Fast Insiders Enables Real-Time Co-Authoring in Desktop Apps

The desktop Office apps are more powerful than their Online counterparts, but the current release doesn’t support the real-time co-authoring that helps us collaborate. Luckily, you can opt into the “Fast Insiders” version that enables this key feature. While it’s technically an unsupported release, feedback from users so far is that it’s stable and gets rid of those “locked for editing” errors that happen when multiple users use the regular desktop apps.

Get instructions on signing up direct from Microsoft’s support site: https://products.office.com/en/office-insider?tab=Mac#Tabs_section

E-Mail Merge with Excel, Word, and Outlook

If you need to mass-email parents, you can save a lot of time by using Word’s e-mail merge feature!

To do this, you need to

  1. ​Create a spreadsheet containing the students with incompletes, the name of the assignment, and their parent email, each in its own column. You can download this information from sqlReports 4.
  2. Set up your mail account in Outlook for Mac​.
  3. Make sure Outlook is your default mail program – use Apple Mail.app to change it if necessary​.
  4. Write your form letter in Word.
  5. Do a mail merge​ by telling Word to look at the spreadsheet you created in step 1, and then inserting merge fields.
  6. Use the Merge to E-Mail button to send out all of your emails.​

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See the video below to see all of these steps in action.

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