Today is Teacher Appreciation Day! So, to begin with, allow me to share my sincere gratitude and respect to all educators. What you do is heroic every year, but start a global pandemic and you fight to adapt to distance education through video streaming apps, and words can’t really express what we owe our teachers. Maybe we can just pay you more, and not force you to pay for your class supplies out of pocket, or maybe take some meaningful action to avoid future school shootings? But I digress. Microsoft is also paying homage to Teacher Appreciation Day, with the announcement of a revolutionary new tool that could change the way schools teach: Reading Progress for Teams.
Reading is often taken for granted, but it can be very difficult for many students, especially reading aloud. Reading aloud may be difficult for some, but reading aloud in front of a classroom or a teacher makes some students self-aware, which only exacerbates the problem and makes them less successful than they are. they are really capable.
Turns out the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped either. The move to virtual classrooms has deprived students of many opportunities to engage or participate at this level, and this appears to have had a negative impact. A study or mastery of oral reading (ORF) from Stanford University found that 2nd and 3rd elementary school students are about 30 percent behind where they should be.
Microsoft’s Reading Progress for Teams may be the answer for both teachers and students. In a nutshell, Reading Progress gives students the opportunity to practice and test reading fluency on their own, and provides teachers with feedback and tools to help them improve.
I spoke with Mike Tholfsen, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft Education, about the new tool. Mike shared, “We started talking and interviewing a lot of educators and reading experts, what were the main weaknesses of their reading instruction, and reading fluency was one thing that kept coming back.”
Mike described the process used in many classrooms to assess reading fluency. The teacher will take a student down the hall with the reading passage, and ask him or her to read this passage aloud while the teacher sits there with a stopwatch, paper, and pencil, timing the student to read it. out loud, circling words that were mispronounced or ignored, or possibly corrected automatically. “For the teacher, it is very laborious and time consuming because each student goes out into the hallway and then returns to the next student that comes out and the teacher has to stay really focused and not get distracted,” explained Mike. “On the student side. For many students, this is very stigmatizing. They don’t necessarily like to read aloud – especially when they get a little older – because you basically have an adult sitting there spinning and timing as you read aloud. “
With Reading Progress, students interact with Microsoft Teams to read assigned passages. Reading Progress for Teams records and analyzes reading and provides measurements in a variety of critical areas. It is also highly customizable so that teachers can tailor it to their classrooms or even to meet the specific needs of each student.
Microsoft blog post revealing quotes from Reading Progress Joe merrill, an educator from Lake Park Elementary in Florida, “Reading Progress takes all the nerves out of my students’ fluency checks. They are comfortable with his approach and I am able to collect data faster and more efficiently than ever. Now I can devote more time to differentiated instruction rather than individualized assessments. “
Fluency data is collected and shared with teachers via Insights dashboards to help visualize progress and trends. Teachers can see the accuracy rate, correct words per minute, pronunciation errors, omissions and insertions. It will highlight actionable information and correlate challenges common to the whole class or for individual students.
Microsoft has revealed that Reading Progress is supported on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android desktops, and the web. It is currently used in private testing with thousands of educators. It is now available in English (US), with English versions for Great Britain and Australia to come. Later this year, Microsoft plans to add Spanish and Chinese.
Congratulations to Microsoft for developing such an innovative and beneficial tool. It will be interesting to see what other uses this tool could have down the road. For example, I can see potential use in practice and refining presentation or public speaking skills and to be able to get information and feedback from Reading Progress.
Microsoft continues to add schools to the private preview and tentatively plans to roll out Reading Progress for general availability by the end of August, in time for the start of the school year this fall.