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Webinar round up: Ensuring student achievement in reading and writing

On Tuesday December 15, we hosted a webinar focused on ensuring student achievement in reading and writing, even in a remote learning environment. It’s no secret that COVID-19 has disrupted education, widening the literacy gap for learners who were already struggling prior to school closures. According to a recent study by The World Bank Group, COVID-19 could result in average losses of 0.6 years of schooling, so we can expect to see existing achievement gaps grow exceedingly larger. Addressing these reading and writing losses is now an urgent challenge for education leaders.

In this round up blog, read the panel’s thoughts on the most commonly asked audience questions from the day. And if you have a burning question on a similar topic, you can Tweet us @texthelp, or drop us a comment here. We’d love to keep the discussion going. 

Q. Are all of the norms in WriQ being referred to American? If so, how does this compare to Canadian norms, if at all?

A. The norms come from a dataset of over 85,000 scored documents. Most of which are from the US. You could also create your own local norms by using WriQ for the year. As our dataset from Canada increases we could create a set specific to Canada as well.

Q. Where is the data stored? What is your data-security policy?

A. We have a strict data security policy. You can read more about it here.

Q. Is this an updated version of Google Read & Write (Fluency Tutor)? Similar features but different? 

A. Fluency Tutor is a separate Google App. You may notice the "Practice Reading Aloud" button in the Read&Write toolbar which connects with Fluency Tutor.

Q.  Are the rubrics in WriQ already loaded or can you load your own rubric in?

A. There are standard rubrics included. You can also create your own in line with school, district or state norms.

Q. In Fluency Tutor, is the Play function available to students if you create your own content from the web, or is it just for the available passages?

A. Yes, students can use the play button on custom content as well as built in content. 

Q. If you are creating your own story in Fluency Tutor, can you add a list of words in isolation for a student to read so you can check for sight words virtually? 

A. You could add a list of words to a custom passage. If you wanted them separate from the story, you would probably just want to create two passages. One with the story, then another with the sight words.

Q. Can you add your own comprehension questions in Fluency Tutor if you created a custom passage?

A. Not from within Fluency Tutor, but you could use Google Forms or a similar tool to create questions and link to it from within the passage. 

Q. Please give some details on how to help young children (5 years) in a remote learning session with Fluency Tutor?

A. For students that are under 5, doing read alouds with popular books over video is often engaging. There are also plenty of reading passages in Fluency Tutor that could work for that age, but a parent would likely be needed to get the students started.

Q. Is Fluency Tutor available in other languages? 

A. Fluency Tutor is only available in English. You can create custom content in any language, but the user interface will remain in English.

Q. Is Fluency Tutor only available for Google? Can you explain the difference between the Fluency Tutor app and extension?

A. Yes, it is only available for Google. The majority of functionality is in the App (Dashboards, reading passages, etc). The extension allows a user to pull content from the web into the app to then practice reading. 

Q. Can you leave the errors visible once the initial WriQ score shows to the student so that they know what to focus on correcting in a revision?

A. Yes! This feature is being added right now.  Soon we will also give teachers the ability to turn that feature off if they do not want students to see their errors.

Q. How many passages are already in Fluency Tutor that you can assign or provided by Texthelp and what is the reading level range?

A. There are over 500 leveled reading passages, based on content, lexile level or reading age.

Q. Is WriQ helpful for teaching students who are labeled AP. I worked with a class that was 34 students labed AP but when I asked to do an assignment I found that several students did not know how to write a thesis statement.  How will WriQ help in this situation?

A.  WriQ can be used with all levels of learners, and all levels of writing ability.  Though WriQ does not give specific prompts or editing suggestions, it does make it easier for teachers to use custom rubrics to guide student writing.

Q. Our District does not have Fluency Tutor, are there other options we can use?

Fluency Tutor (and WriQ) has free and premium features and when you first download you can try all the features for free for the first 30 days. 

It’s clear from the discussion during the webinar that there's a renewed focus on helping students to achieve their goals in reading and writing. Whether you’re in class, at home, or working on a hybrid model of the two, you can try Fluency Tutor and WriQ completly FREE for 30 days. Simply visit our Fluency Tutor page and WriQ page for more information.