Elementary, middle, and high school students across the district now have access to tools that can assist the reading and writing process on the computer when necessary. One such tool is Google Read & Write. It is a Chrome extension (a program that is added to a Google account which adds features on the Internet). Google Read & Write for Chrome reads any website aloud and includes additional capabilities when students need the help.
150 students are piloting Google Read & Write and teachers and students alike are praising the tool.
One 4th grade student at Cragmont likes using the word prediction tool when she’s writing in Google Docs. Google Read & Write offers the writer a list of possible words as you type. She shared, “It’s good when you hear the word. It can read it back to you to make sure you pick the right one.” She also noted that she sometimes uses the highlighting tools to highlight important words.
Another student in the class uses the read aloud feature in Google Docs. “I’ve been using it to correct what I write,” he said.
A third classmate concurred that this is his favorite feature. “I use playback when I finish a sentence — just to make sure every word is good.”
A student at Berkeley High noted appreciating these same features:
“I use it for all its different purposes but mostly for having it read back to me and to highlight an article from the internet. The highlighting feature is an underrepresented aspect of Google Read & Write but I think it is one of the most important. What you do is, when you highlight all the different key sentences in the article, you can press a button and it will take all the highlighted sentences and put them into a Google Doc. This aspect of Google Read & Write is really helpful for writing big essays because it takes sentences that either you can base your thesis on or quote as evidence. The other feature that I use the most is the read back feature. This feature can be used to read articles to me but more importantly it can be used to read back an essay. When reading back an essay you can catch mistakes that you might have made or better ways to say things.”
Jeni Wendel’s entire fifth grade class at Thousand Oaks Elementary added the extension during the argument and advocacy unit. Students used the read aloud tool while researching debatable issues using sources available from the elementary school library website. Jeni recently noted, “I think it will be useful when we start working on the research information unit.”
Theresa Hove at John Muir Elementary works with a number of fifth graders using Google Read & Write in the classroom and afterschool. She reported that this tool is helping students access the curriculum and feel more a part of the group. She noted that students have mastered the use of the tool and are using it without prompting. “When a student sees a red line indicating a misspelled word, the student fixates on it. This distracts them from getting their ideas on the page,” she shared. Google Read & Write is helping students capture their ideas.
Students using the tool agree. All of them recommend it. One of the 4th graders at Cragmont declared Google Read & Write is: “the go-to for word prediction and playback!”
If you would like to learn more about Google Read & Write, check out this guide. Note that a premium version is free for all educators who register. Click here to register for a free premium educator account.
– Mia Gittlen, K-8 Instructional Technology TSA