Texthelp’s excellent chrome add on Read & Write for Google Chrome is a great way for teachers to allow students of all abilities to increase their knowledge and use of meta-cognitive strategies that will allow them to become better at comprehension and decoding when reading, as well as better writers.
In the past, any student with a technology support request written in their personalized learning plan (IIP) was given the opportunity to use Kurzweil, a program that allowed students to listen to written digital texts, as well as provide answers through voice and/or through predictive text. It also featured a dictionary, the ability to segment words into syllables, the ability to listen to any given word, etc. The biggest drawback with this software was that it was licensed, expensive to buy, slow, had poor design that wasn’t intuitive to workflow needs, and always crashed.
As you might imagine, both the teacher and the student using the program quickly felt that it was unreliable, and this was a big wrench in terms of teaching said students to gradually use the software independently with success. The negatives outweighed the positives, and therefore teachers balked at using the tech, because it was such a headache.
This year a ray of sunshine has come to our classrooms in the form of Read & Write for Google Chrome. This app is everything Kurzweil should have been. The trick now is to try and convince other educators to not be wary, and to try using this in their classrooms. I have a large number of students in my classroom reading at least two grade levels below their grade. I have found that after training them in how to use the tools in R&W through direct instruction, students have all been able to quickly begin to use the program, and as a result are able to read grade level texts, and share their answers in a way they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Even students who are reading at grade level are benefitting because the tools are teaching them to be more self-aware of the strategies they are using already, and to understand that building a ‘tool-kit’ of these strategies will make them a better reader/writer.
*I should mention that I am in no way affiliated with Read&Write for Google Chrome, and this outpouring of love is genuine. Thanks for making my students have the ability to work at their true ability, unimpeded by any learning issue that may otherwise be affecting their ability.
Anyways, check out the video I made for my coworkers on how to install, and how to use R&W.