This week our task was to find an app or tool that teachers might find useful in the classroom, test it out and write a review about it. I chose the Chrome extension “Read and Write”, because I had heard really positive things about it before in regards to its use in the classroom.
To start using the extension, I decided to use a tutorial so that I could really understand and get a feel for the extension. So I went back to basics, and took a trip to YouTube where I searched for “Google read and write tutorial”, and found the video below.
The extension itself has quite a few features, and all of them are easy for students to use. These include Hover Speech, Translator, Practice Reading Aloud, a text to audio player, Prediction, Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Screenshot Reader, Audio Maker, Web Search and multiple coloured Highlighters. These are all available on the paid version of the extension, but not the three version which only features Hover Speech, Translator, Practice Reading Aloud and the text to audio player. I checked to see if there was a free trial that I could use just for the purposes of this post, and while the website does advertise a “30 Day Free Trial Option”, it just sends you back to the Chrome store, where there doesn’t seem to be the option. For that reason, I had to stick with the free version.
I decided to test out the extension on a random Wikipedia page, and found the one for Elephants. First, I tried the Hover Text feature. This feature allows the user to listen to a webpage, including headers and additional information. It will automatically play the entire webpage, but if a user hovers over text it will play what the cursor is pointing to. The option to pause and stop the speech are available, while the other features are unavailable while this one is active, until the user hits “Stop”.
The next feature to try was the text to audio feature, which allows users to highlight a section of text on a page, hit “play” and listen to the selected text. This one works the same as the Hover Text feature in that the other features are unavailable while this one is active, until the user hits “Stop”. Both features include the option to change the voice that is speaking to the user, under “Options” and “Speech”, where the language, voice and speed can be personalized.
The next feature I tested was the translator, which works by highlighting text and clicking the “translate” button, which looks like a shuffle button. The translation box will pop up and show the translation of that word, and the language can be adjusted under “Options” and “Speech”
The final feature that I tried was the coolest, and that was the Read Aloud feature. Once you click the “read aloud” button, it takes you to a new webpage, where they have copied over the webpage you were previously looking at. In my case, this was elephants.
You then have the option on the top right to record yourself reading aloud. After you complete your recording, you can send your recording to your teacher by clicking on the paper airplane. The page will then say it is “searching” for teachers to send it to, so I am assuming that it works by connecting with Google Classroom, and the option to type in your teacher’s email address also is there.
Out of curiosity I sent myself a recording to see just what the teachers sees when receiving them, and received this:
Overall, I think that Read and Write for Google Chrome is a great extension for classroom use. Of the features that I tried, all of them were simple to use, and functioned well for their intended purposes. I really enjoyed the Read Aloud feature, and in the classroom this could easily be used to track student’s reading progress, or in the younger grades keep track of reading at home if the parents have the extension as well. I do wish I could have tried all of the features, but even if the extension was limited to the features I tried it would make a great addition to the classroom.