All Hands on Tech: Reaching Struggling Readers with Office 365
Area of Focus and/or Research Question: The area of focus for the Action Research project is reading fluency. If a child is a struggling reader, he/she reads slowly and spends a great deal of time decoding words which in turn leads to poor comprehension. Acceptable rates of fluency may be acquired with repeated practice of reading passages. My research question is: “Will independent practice with Microsoft’s Learning Tools in Office 365 supported by small group differentiated instruction result in a 25% or greater improvement in passage reading fluency rates among students performing in stanines 1, 2 or 3 on the Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) assessment?”
Action Plan: At the Microsoft Educator’s Exchange (E2) held in Toronto, Canada I listened as Mike Tholfsen, Program Manager for OneNote and Word in Office 365, demonstrated Immersive Reader/ Learning Tools and how it is used in the classroom to aid students who have dyslexia or are struggling readers. With last year’s classroom grant from ARI, I conducted Action Research into the effect of using Learning Tools to improve reading comprehension by using Learning Tools to teach sight words. Mr. Tholfsen considered this to be a cutting edge use of Learning Tools because Microsoft had not researched using the Immersive Reader/Learning Tools program to teach sight words and build fluency. The results of last year’s Action Research I conducted for ARI has been published by Microsoft. I have been in contact with Mike Tholfsen again, and he is including the director of research, Maria Langworthy, who is willing to assist me with conducting Action Research in my rural Appalachian classroom.
I am sustaining the practice of learning sight words using Immersive Reader/Learning Tools by again using last year’s project with the new students in my classroom. To further help my struggling readers, I am proposing the addition of independent practice with passages from the student’s reading books.
To address the problem of practice, fluency, I will use 5 HP Chromebooks to be used in addition to 2 Surface Pro 4 Tablets. The Immersive Reader/Learning Tools are now included in the Office 365 platforms of OneNote and Word. The Learning Tools will allow me to copy and paste reading passages and then alter the passages to meet the needs of each student. For example, font space and short lines will address reading speed and prevent visual overcrowding. With one click, I can highlight parts of speech, supporting instruction. If the length of a word is a barrier, I can use one click to separate the words into syllables. The students will practice reading the passages until the words are read naturally and without hesitation. The reading passages will come from the reading series used in my classroom, SRA’s Imagine It.