Tech News Weekly

Instructional Tech Tips for Teachers (Vol. I, Issue IV)

In this, the 4th issue of Tech News Weekly, we turn our focus to reading and composition tools and strategies. This follows a recent PD session on the topic, led by Sonoma State professor of English and Linguistics, Greta Vollmer. Vollmer is the former director of the Bay Area Writing Project (@BAWP1), a fabulous resource for students and teachers, alike.
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Simplify Complex Texts

Want to find out the reading level of a text prior to assigning it to your students? Want to give your students an easier version of a text to read and analyze? Check out Rewordify! Paste in any piece of text and it will tell you the lexical density of the text, the Lexile reading level, and tons of other useful information. Then, view the simplified version of the same text. Highlights are placed over any text that is changed. Difficult words can quickly and easily be made into vocabulary lists with or without definitions.

As a teacher, you can create a class for your students on Rewordify, which allows you to track their reading times, view words learned, etc. If that sounds like too much, just encourage your struggling students to use it as part of their reading and writing toolbox. For more on Rewordify, check out their Educator Walkthrough or read this recent post by Catlin Tucker (@Catlin_Tucker).

Improve Your Writing Everywhere

Do you ever wish a competent spell checker would follow you around everywhere you go? Grammarly (@Grammarly) does just that by having a beautiful web-based service and browser add-ons. Whether you're proofreading an essay, writing an email to a parent, or crafting your latest social media post, Grammarly will help make sure you get it right the first time. The Chrome add-on has already saved me from a few email typos in the brief time I've been using it. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, style and sentence structure are available in the free version of Grammarly. Word choice and plagiarism detection will cost you.
If you like the idea of Grammarly but not the implementation, you might like Pro Writing Aid (@prowritingaid). The free version of Pro Writing Aid, while not as visually appealing as Grammarly, provided more information and suggestions than its competitor.

Foreign Language Accents in Google Docs

Easy Accents Add On for Google Docs
Adding accents can be a pain when composing any sort of document. The Easy Accents Add On for Google Docs takes a lot of the pain away by giving you an easy-to-use sidebar that sticks around while you type. Click the necessary accented letter when the time comes and your cursor will be placed immediately after. This makes for a pretty quick and pain-free workflow. This Add On works in the Chrome browser on Windows, Mac and Chrome OS devices.

In the Trenches