Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Adjust your Reading Habits with Google Search Tools

Recently I was working with a group of fourth grade teachers on North Carolina Lighthouses and the comment came up from one of the teachers.  "Doing a Google search is difficult for some of our students because they are not able to understand some of what they are reading.  I wish there was an easier way for them to research material that is more aligned to how they read."  I let them know that Google has a built in feature that would allow them to filter their search results by reading level.  The looks I received from the group were more along the lines of how Mr. Spock raised and inquisitive eyebrow to Captain Kirk.  Of course the next thing I knew we were hip deep going step by step through the process of figuring out what to do.  I had not seen a group of teachers this engaged in a while and with a tool that I thought everyone knew about.  Boy was I wrong.  

If you have not used the Google Reading Level filter here is a quick three step tutorial on how to get things setup and working.

  • Enter your Search material into the Google Search box.
  • Click on the Search tools button after Google displays your search results.
  • Click on the All results drop down menu and select Reading level

The search results will then be reorganized according to the reading level and displayed by Google in a table similar to the one below.  Google identifies the reading levels as Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.

One additional option with the table above is that it is functional, so you could click on Intermediate and it will reorder your search results one step further.

I have to say that I had a great time working with this group of teachers and they were very appreciative of the information that I had shared with and showed them how to use in a classroom setting with students.  Most told me later that they used the Google Reading level filter on their next research topic with their students.  

It seems, to me, to be a tool that does not get enough credit for what it could do for students.  So give it a try, and see for yourself, the next time you are working with students on a research topic to see if things make more sense.