One of the challenges that I always faced as a history teacher was getting a good read on how long it actually took my students to read documents that I gave to them. That was true for both in-class and at-home reading assignments.
Fortunately, today there are online tools that can be used to accurately gauge how long it takes students to read an assignment and how well they read their assignments.
Readlee (disclosure: previously an advertiser on my blog) is a service that lets you create online reading assignments for your students to complete in your classroom or at home. What makes it great is found in how your students complete assignments and in the information you get about how they completed the assignment.
In Readlee you give students a reading assignment and they complete it by reading it aloud to their computers. Readlee then uses AI to analyze how well your students read the assignment. That analysis is provided for you in a short report displayed next to all of your students’ submitted assignments.
Readlee reports include time spent reading, total words read, unique words read, reading speed, and how much of the assignment was read. Additionally, Readlee provides a written transcript of the words students spoke compared to the words written in the assignment. Last, but not least, you can hear a recording of your students reading aloud.
Lest you think that Readlee only gives data to students, I should point out that in their Readlee classrooms students will find a running tally of the number of words they’ve read aloud, their time spent reading, their average reading speed, and the total unique words they’ve read.
Readlee will work with any document you upload. You can also have students read physical books aloud on their “Quick Read” feature. It also has a huge library of literature that you can search and use for your assignments. Watch this thirty second video to see a little bit of Readlee in action. My longer video overview is available here. My video contains an overview of teacher and student views.
Microsoft Teams Options
If you’re a Microsoft Teams user, you might already be thinking, “Richard, there’s an option in Microsoft Teams!” You’re right, there is and it’s called Reading Progress.
Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams gives you insight into how your students read. With Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams you can get insights into how long it takes students to read an assigned passage and the words that they struggle to pronounce.
With the Reading Progress and Insights function enabled you can assign an article to your students to read. The article can be something that you upload in the form of a PDF or Word Document. A student then reads the article aloud and Microsoft Teams will analyze the student’s reading. As the teacher you can then view analysis of the student’s reading. Mike Tholfsen has a good video about Reading Progress in Teams.
Considerations and Benefits
In asking students to read aloud to their computers we do have some factors to consider. First, these tools assume students will have a computer to use. Second, having a relatively quiet space to read is helpful even though both of these tools do a pretty good job of filtering background noise.
In the classroom I can watch them read, but some students would say they were reading when they really weren’t (daydreaming is a real thing). When I ask students to read aloud that introduces a performance anxiety factor. At-home assignments are even tougher to judge because I can only go on what students told me about how long they spent reading and that still doesn’t tell me how well they read. Tools like Readlee address those problems.
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