With the start of the new academic year I thought it would be beneficial to highlight a very effective resource for inclusion in the daily teaching and learning routine of the classroom. Microsoft Learning Tools is a free online resource to help pupils who are struggling with their reading and Immersive Reader is the feature that I will now take a look at.
Our starting point is Office 365 online and I need to emphasise that this is a completely free feature available for the online versions of Word, One Note, Outlook, Teams and also the Microsoft Edge browser. Keep in mind that teachers are eligible for Office 365 Education for free, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and now Microsoft Teams, plus additional classroom tools. All you need is a valid school email address!
The following screenshot was taken from a recent TeachNet blog post and pasted into OneNote (desktop version). A great feature of OneNote is the built-in OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which extracts text from a picture and makes it available as editable text. Taking a screenshot from any online teaching resource and extracting the text is a really useful feature!
I right clicked on the image and selected Copy text from picture. I then pasted this text into a blank Word (online version) document.
Now that the text is available to us in Microsoft Word I can now open the Immersive Reader function from the View menu. This presents an uncluttered screen that allows a pupil to focus on the actual text rather than becoming distracted by the various Word editing tools.
When the Play Button is clicked the text is read aloud and word and line highlighting helps to sustain the pupil’s focus on the contents of the page as it is being read.
There are lots of preference settings that can be changed to suit the needs of individual pupils. The voice speed can be changed as well as the ability to select a male or female voice. The screen appearance, text preferences, visual preferences such as font colour and background colour can be changed to improve accessibility. The length of the lines can be changed to assist dyslexic pupils. Line focus can be added to present individual or multiple lines at any one time. The Grammar option provides access to features that allow nouns, verbs, adjective and adverbs to be highlighted in different colours and you can also include superscript labels for the various grammar terms.
In this blog I have really only scratched the surface of the possibilities that Immersive Reader has to offer teachers and their pupils. I think it is definitely well worth checking out for yourself and don’t forget, it is free!