Reading The Impossible

Many of you have asked me if there is support for those who struggle with reading digital content especially when it is written above instructional reading levels.  Every time a class attempts research out on the web, students are faced with information they cannot comfortably read. For the brain to have enough neuronal resources to devote to comprehension they must be able to read at their independent reading level (*that’s an extremely high accuracy rate).

A handy site [no downloading] that I’ve shared is Rewordify.  This online tool allows you to copy a text or website link into a box area.  It locates and converts difficult words into more commonly understood words.


 For example, I copied/pasted the definition of “Autumn”.  Rewordify highlights the difficult words in purple and inserts the common words in yellow. rewordify_result

Additional features in Settings, offers some ability to customize.

Differentiation is attained without losing sight of the original text.  You can even work on building vocabulary at the same time!  Let me know what you think and how you’ve used it in your classes.


How Readable is the Information?

Readability may be defined as  ‘reading ease’ or how content can be successfully understood.  Teachers know that comprehension is dependent on many variables, one of which is the readability level of information whether online or in print.  It matters little if you have the best list of websites for research but the students have difficulties in decoding or understanding the information.   When students expend enormous cognitive energy in decoding words, the result is a drop in reading speed, comprehension and higher order thinking skills.

If you ask students where they find information, they will probably say ‘the internet’.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could help them fine-tune their searches so that it accommodates their reading levels?  Google has done just that – click on the Advanced Search.

Record your search terms (eg. “digital writing”).  In Reading Level:  select ‘basic, intermediate or advanced‘ results.  The selected reading level will filter websites that belong to that level.  As well, a graph will display the percentage of websites that are assigned to each level.

Readability tools can be found online or as part of writing software.  Each one focuses on specific algorithms to determine the reading level.  Consider using these to support your students:

I’d be interested in any comments from anyone who has used these tools or would like to use these tools with their students.  How did you use them; your thoughts around this.