Reading Difficulty Power Tools(RDPT) Your EAL ELL Assistant for Google Docs

Save days worth of time planning your English lessons! Want to plan with EAL learners in mind? Need to check the suitability of a text? There’s a new Google Apps Script in town! This tool was developed by good friend and Superstar Computing teacher James Abela.
Side note: you should definitely go and follow him on Twitter!

Why use RDPT?

If you’ve ever had to plan an English lesson, you know it takes a lot of thought. Using this Google Script, you will potentially save hundreds of hours a year on planning time. This tool will change the way you look at Google Docs and how you use text forever!

The Reading Difficulty Power Tools, or RDPT for short, is a set of tools that run within Google Docs. They help you make sure the text is accessible to all your learners. It give you a breakdown of vocabulary, text complexity and estimated reading time. Additionally, it helps plan age appropriate texts for discussion in class.

Moreover, it can give students access to tools such as a built-in thesaurus and dictionary. Teachers have been incredibly excited about the way the tool integrates into their current workflow. They quickly see the impact a few grammar or vocabulary changes have on the text.

One added bonus – It’s all automatically generated within the Google Docs document.

Where did this come from?

It sounds like a fancy little Script made by a programmer. And this could be true, if it wasn’t for the fact that it is based on solid research and created by a formal EAL and English language specialist. Who also happens to be a proficient coder. But more on that later!

Start using RDPT.

Sounding too good to be true? Let’s have a look at it in action! First things first go to the RDPT website and scroll down until you see the ‘Open the Beta’ button.

Create a copy of the RDPT Beta
Click on Open The Beta on the RDPT Website

This will prompt you to create your own copy of the file. This copy includes the RDPT Google Apps Script and is stored on your own Google Drive. The script will create a new menu for Google Docs that enables you to use this document with attached script. This will be your main working document.

Click on Make a copy
Create your own copy and title the file.
A New Menu is available at the top
Welcome text for RDPT

Read the included text for information. Next, delete the text to make space for your own text.

The following step is to paste in the text we want to edit or use in a lesson. For this example, I will use the ‘I Have A Dream’ Speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. The text used in this example was taken from The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute website.

Reading Power Tools Menu
Reading Power Tools Menu

Once, the text is in your document, you can open the RDPT Menu for the available options.

Available tools!

Doc Word list

This function will list all words in your document and attach their definition, synonyms and available images.

The Document word list
The Document word list

Doc Low Frequency Words

The Doc Low Frequency Words will only list those words that are on this list. Each with their synonyms, definition, as well as Ngram and level. The script uses Google’s Ngram viewer to give you an idea of how popular a word is.

Low frequency word list
Low frequency word list

Add a Low Frequency Word Table

This will add the same Low frequency words to a table for easy access and not taking.

Add a table to let students take their own notes in class.
Add a table to let students take their own notes in class.

Difficulty Guide

Great for planning and to make a text age appropriate and sufficiently differentiated for all learners. This is very useful when prepping text for EAL or ELL students or those who do not have English as their first language. To learn more about the research behind these levels go to the RDPT page.

Reading Difficulty Guide
Reading Difficulty Guide

Within the difficulty guide, you can expand the Flesch score to get a more detailed breakdown.

Flesch scores for this text.
Flesch scores for this text.

High Frequency Word list

In addition to Low frequency words, you can list all the high frequency word lists.

High frequency word list with frequency guide
High frequency word list with frequency guide

Create a Sheet (Low frequency and full list)

If you prefer to get your word lists in a Google Sheets, that too is supported. Both low frequency lists and full word lists can be exported to a Google Sheets file for further analysis.

Exported Google Sheet file with word lists.
Exported Google Sheet file with word lists.

Highlighting text

Highlighting words in the text.
Highlighting words in the text.

The result of highlighting looks like the following example.

Highlighting low frequency words in text.
Highlighting low frequency words in text.

RDPT is Research based

Let’s dive a little deeper in the research behind the RDPT tool and where the various word lists have come from. James has done an amazing job at explaining his sources and how he’s used his own research as well as that already available to develop this. You can read all about it on the page dedicated to this here: RDPT research.

Watch the video demo

In the following video I demonstrate all the tools and how they work. If you want to see the tool in action before deciding if it’s right for you, this video should help.

But I’m sure you’ll love it.

If you want to try it out yourself. Access the Public Beta here

If you want even more accessibility features for your students, why not check out the immersive Reader for Microsoft Edge.

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