[Technology 838] Re: Changing reading levels of text questions

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Mariann Fedele MariannF at lacnyc.org
Wed Feb 7 13:29:49 EST 2007

Hello Steve and all,

Steve, you wrote, "staff and students now we seem to ask too much of
technology, expect it to be like magic."

I think this comment is important to consider when thinking about how
technology relates to the teaching and learning process and integrating
it in a purposeful way. To begin grappling with that question a useful
reference source is the report by the National Research Council titled
"How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School" (1999). Of
course, there have been many advances in the technology we use since the
time it was published, but many of the core findings I believe still
hold true.
What do others on the list think? How can these recommendations inform
our practice? Following is an excerpt from the concluding chapter.

Tools of Technology

Technology has become an important instrument in education.
Computer-based technologies hold great promise both for increasing
access to knowledge and as a means of promoting learning. The public
imagination has been captured by the capacity of information
technologies to centralize and organize large bodies of knowledge;
people are excited by the prospect of information networks, such as the
Internet, for linking students around the globe into communities of

There are five ways that technology can be used to help meet the
challenges of establishing effective learning environments:

1. Bringing real-world problems into classrooms through the use of
videos, demonstrations, simulations, and Internet connections to
concrete data and working scientists.
2. Providing "scaffolding" support to augment what learners can do and
reason about on their path to understanding. Scaffolding allows learners
to participate in complex cognitive performances, such as scientific
visualization and model-based learning, that is more difficult or
impossible without technical support.

3. Increasing opportunities for learners to receive feedback from
software tutors, teachers, and peers; to engage in reflection on their
own learning processes; and to receive guidance toward progressive
revisions that improve their learning and reasoning.

4. Building local and global communities of teachers, administrators,
students, parents, and other interested learners.

5. Expanding opportunities for teachers' learning.

An important function of some of the new technologies is their use
as tools of representation. Representational thinking is central to
in-depth understanding and problem representation is one of the skills
that distinguish subject experts from novices. Many of the tools also
have the potential to provide multiple contexts and opportunities for
learning and transfer, for both student-learners and teacher-learners.
Technologies can be used as learning and problem-solving tools to
promote both independent learning and collaborative networks of learners
and practitioners.

The use of new technologies in classrooms, or the use of any
learning aid for that matter, is never solely a technical matter. The
new electronic technologies, like any other educational resource, are
used in a social environment and are, therefore, mediated by the
dialogues that students have with each other and the teacher.

Educational software needs to be developed and implemented with a
full understanding of the principles of learning and developmental
psychology. Many new issues arise when one considers how to educate
teachers to use new technologies effectively: What do they need to know
about learning processes? What do they need to know about the
technologies? What kinds of training are most effective for helping
teachers use high-quality instructional programs? Understanding the
issues that affect teachers who will be using new technologies is just
as pressing as questions of the learning potential and developmental
appropriateness of the technologies for children.

If you want to read the whole chapter it can found at:

Mariann Fedele
Associate Director,
NYC Regional Adult Education Network
Literacy Assistance Center
NIFL Technology and Literacy Discussion List
32 Broadway 10th Floor
New York, New York 10004
mariannf at lacnyc.org

-----Original Message-----
From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of Steve Quann
Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 5:41 PM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 833] Re: Changing reading levels of text questions

Hi Patti,
Haven't used this, but I came upon it last week:

Sounds like you already know much of this, but here is a site that
might help with the creating/editing.


I am finding that even though there are some things that just amaze me
staff and students now we seem to ask too much of technology expect it
to be like magic. Others?

Good luck,

>>> "Patti White" <prwhite at MadisonCounty.NET> 2/6/2007 4:21 PM >>>

I received the following request and I'm stumped. Here's the request:

Do you know of a computer program that takes text and offers
suggestions for dropping the reading level.. As in maybe 10th grade to
5th grade...Is there software that does that other than just using the
Flesch-Kincaid Readability stats and doing it by hand???

Next question..When you are adapting text for folks with literacy
issues....you know how you drop the reading level down and augment with
pictures...Is there a term that is used for that ..something like
.modified text with pictures or something like that...????


The only thing I can find that might help is the Auto Summarize feature
in Microsoft Word, but it's not really appropriate. Does anyone know of
some software that will drop the reading level of text? And is there a
term for that process?

Thanks for whatever help anyone can give,
Patti White

Patti White, M.Ed.
Disabilities Project Manager
Arkansas Adult Learning Resource Center
prwhite at madisoncounty.net
800.569.3539 ph/fax/tty
National Institute for Literacy
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