23 September 2015
Help Students Master Reading with the new Fluency Tutor for Google
Over 60% of 4th and 8th grade students in the US today score below proficiency in reading (Nation’s Report Card). Unfortunately this statistic hasn’t changed much over the last 20 years and impacts a number of students, including those receiving Special Education services, English Language Learners, and those who have just fallen behind.
How can we change this? First, it’s important to know that when learning to read, students first focus on phonemic awareness and phonics. Once they have mastered this, the hope is that they will go on to read more quickly, with fewer errors, and with proper expression. However, over half of the students in any given classroom will find this difficult. These students will tend to dislike reading even more when progress is measured by reading out loud in class, or being asked to read in front of a teacher while timed. This in turn causes a downward spiral that can lead to lifelong dislike and discomfort when reading.
The challenge then is how to give students access to high interest content that they can practice reading (with supports) independently. If the content isn’t of interest, students will not want to read it. The goal is to turn struggling readers into avid readers, which is where the right content combined with Fluency Tutor for Google can help.
Fluency Tutor for Google is a reading support tool for students using Google Apps for Education. It also integrates nicely with Google Classroom. The Chrome App allows teachers to assign almost any content to students as a reading passage. It also allows students to create their own passages from websites containing content they enjoy reading or other online instructional programs being used. Once created, students can use supports such as text-to-speech, talking and picture dictionaries, and more to help understand the content. Then when ready, students can record themselves reading the passage and share with the teacher – away from the pressures of reading aloud in the classroom environment.
Once a student finishes recording a passage, teachers can give simple quick feedback, or do a more in-depth assessment of the reading. Teachers can also start to collect data over time – building a picture of their students’ achievement and the progress they are making throughout the school year.
Fluency Tutor is already being used by thousands of teachers. However, we are constantly listening to educators on what features they would find useful and what would benefit their students. The new version of Fluency Tutor includes several updates including:
Student Share Extension – Now students can turn any webpage into a Fluency Tutor passage. Support tools can then be used to help with comprehension and recordings can instantly be created and shared with the teacher.
Teacher Share Extension – Similar to the student extension, teachers can now create Fluency Tutor passages from websites. Once created, the passage can then be edited and shared with one or more students via the Fluency Tutor dashboard.
Google Classroom Integration – In addition to sharing passages with individual students, teachers can now share with the entire class using the Google Classroom share button.
And additional updates, such as:
- New Look – Now a single easy to use application for both students and teachers.
- Easy Transfer – The ability for teachers to transfer students to other teachers. Great for when transitioning to a new school year, this will give teachers a head start by having access to a student’s previous year of reading progress.
- Quick Score – Give immediate quick feedback to students to let them know they are on the right track without doing a full assessment.
- More free features – The student share extension, teacher share extension, and ability for teachers to create their own custom content are all free!
Fluency Tutor for Google is truly a time saving tool for busy educators looking for ways to help their struggling or emerging readers. You can get the new version free in the Chrome Web Store, or if you are already a user your app will be updated automatically. All features are FREE – apart from the powerful analytical tools that allow teachers to review each student’s progress over time with graphs and historical data. To access the advanced scoring tools, you need to become a Premium user – Click Here to find out how.
We hope you like the new features as much as we do and would love to hear your experience in the comments section below.