A few weeks ago we announced several new features and enhancements to our literacy software Read&Write for Google Chrome™ just in time for back to school. In both our blog post and webinar we also hinted at some additional updates coming soon.
We’re happy to announce that the first of those updates, a new Practice Reading Aloud feature, is now available.
The Practice Reading Aloud feature lets students select any text from a Google Doc or the web, practice and record themselves reading it aloud, listen to their recording, and even share it with their teacher! And it’s a completely free feature - the first new free feature to be added to the toolbar since Read&Write launched!
Keep reading for additional details on how it works, as well as a short overview video.
The next time you open Read&Write for Google Chrome you’ll likely see the new “Practice Reading Aloud” icon on the toolbar. If you don’t see the new feature immediately just give it a day or two as it will be rolled out gradually to all users starting today.
As the name suggests, the purpose of this tool is to allow students to practice reading any content aloud. Being able to read clearly, accurately and with appropriate expression are all key traits of fluent readers. And the best way to become a more fluent reader is by practicing reading aloud, and listening for areas that may need improvement.
We’ve learned from educators like you that students often use the Voice Notes feature already available in Read&Write to record themselves reading out loud. But it’s only available in Google Docs, and doesn’t include many of the additional support tools students need to become fluent readers.
With the new Practice Reading Aloud button, students can simply select text from a Google Doc or the web, then use tools like text-to-speech, talking and picture dictionaries, and more to support their understanding of the content.
When ready, there’s a record button that allows students to record themselves reading the text. They can then listen to it and re-record as much as they’d like. There’s even an option to send a recording to their teacher! Check out the video below for a quick overview of how it all works.
If a student chooses to send their recording via Google Classroom, or by entering their teacher’s email address, their teacher will receive an email with information about the recording and an option to listen to it. Choosing to listen will open up the recording, along with the text the student was reading, in a new tab.
Finally, for teachers who want to go the extra mile, the new Practice Reading Aloud feature integrates with Read&Write’s companion product - Fluency Tutor for Google. While completely optional, Fluency Tutor will allow teachers to store students recordings so they can track progress over time. They can also provide feedback and assign additional readings.
Teachers who previewed this feature in its early stages were really excited to have access. The Practice Reading Aloud button can be great for struggling readers and English Language Learners, and can be used to practice speeches and vocabulary words and so much more. Now that it’s available we can’t wait to hear how you’ll be using it - let us know in the comments section below!