Every day numerous students struggle with reading comprehension. There are all kinds of programs and tools on the market to help. However, funds are tight and we typically do not have time to test all of the different products offered. Today I will highlight a tool that is free and readily available.
Microsoft o365 offers an Immersive Reader in Word, OneNote, and PowerPoint. (The Immersive Reader is located under the View tab.) There are 4 features that I find valuable to struggling readers: Read Aloud, Text Preference, Grammar Options, and Reading Preferences.
Do you have text that needs to be read to a student but you cannot find an audio copy? Would you like to simply listen to an article? Read Aloud (found at the bottom of the Immersive Reader) can do that for you. Place your cursor at the beginning of the text, click the Play arrow, and the reader begins. It is surprisingly accurate and the voice uses inflexion. You can adjust the speed of the reading and you choose between a male or female voice.
We see more and more students with vision issues across our district. Text Preferences (found at the top right of the Immersive Reader) can adjust the font, size, spacing, and theme of the text. These options are great for making the text more visible as they not only adjust the layout, but they can improve glare issues as well.
Do you have students that need extra practice with the fundamentals of language? Grammar Options (found at the top right of the Immersive Reader) allows text to be broken down by syllables. It also can highlight (in different colors) nouns, verbs, and adjectives. This is helpful when looking to edit for fragments and run-ons or to check word choice by looking for descriptive adjectives.
When I learned to read, my mom made sure I stayed focused on the text by moving my finger along the line as I read. Reading Preferences (found at the top right of the Immersive Reader) makes this option available as well. One, three, or five lines of text can be highlighted at a time in conjunction with the Read Aloud feature.
Although we have just recently begun using these features with our students, we have found that they are beneficial. I am sure there are plenty of other applications we have not yet considered. If you have any thoughts on additional applications, or you have questions about how we are using the tool, feel free to contact me via Twitter @Jeremy__Hill.