In our classrooms, we have a wide variety of learning styles and needs. Read&Write for Google is a Chrome browser extension that can support your students’ work in Google Docs, on the Web and in PDF documents.
Getting started is easy. Open the Chrome web browser and go to the Chrome Web Store to install the extension. Click on “Free” and follow the prompts to add Read&Write to your browser to begin using the premium features for a 30 day trial. Teachers can then register to continue using those features for free for 12 months.
Tools that help students read content in web pages
Visit a web page, then look in the address bar for the green Read&Write logo (shown in the example above). Click on the logo to see the tools available and to dismiss those tools. These tools will allow students to enable and control the text to speech feature to hear text read aloud. In addition, individual words can be translated into either Spanish or French with the option to click and hear the word read. These features can be used to assist ELL students or auditory learners. The text to speech feature might also serve as a tool for listening activities during your instruction.
Tools that help students read and write in Google Docs
Open a document from your Google Drive or copy/paste the text from a web article into a new document. Click on the Read&Write logo at the top to reveal or conceal the tool bar for Docs.
These tools support both reading and writing in any document. They include both a text and picture dictionary, text to speech controls, the translator, and highlighting tools. The Fact Finder tool can be enabled when students select a word or phrase then click on the tool. This opens a new tab displaying Google search results for the selected word(s). With the Prediction tool enabled, students will see a list of suggested words that they can choose from to complete their thoughts as they write.
The highlighter tools serve an additional function besides just visually pointing out information in the text. The Highlights Collection tool gathers all of the highlighted text and places it on a separate Google Doc. For students who have done a copy/paste from a web page into a new document, the highlighting tool colors could be used to point out things like main idea and details, claims and support, fact and opinion, etc. The collected highlights can now serve to assist students in composing a writing piece.
Another way to use the highlighting tools is for support in learning vocabulary. Students can highlight words that are unfamiliar to them then enable the Vocabulary tool which will gather all of those words into a new document. A table is created showing the chosen word, the dictionary meaning, a symbol from the picture dictionary (if available) and a column where they can add their own notes about each word.
Tools that help students read and write in a PDF document
In order to use the Read&Write tools in PDF, you’ll need to first upload documents to your Google Drive. Open a PDF to find the toolbar. Now that you’ve explored Read&Write on the web and in Google Docs you’ll notice that many of these are familiar.
Basic features such as Text to speech and highlighting are supported in PDF. In addition, annotations can be added in two ways: by creating a text annotation (which is visible as a text box on the page) or by creating annotations that are marked in the text by a push pin which can later be clicked to reveal the typed annotation. Highlighted text and highlighted vocabulary can be collected and placed into a new document in the same way as they were in a Google Doc.
Give Read&Write for Google a try and share the ways you would use it in your classroom.