Saturday, October 22, 2011

Speech Input, Translator, PDF Aloud, Study Skills and Vocabulary List Builder for Mac

As I was going through these features again I was marvelling at the features and I was overwhelmed with the possibilities. I was reflecting on certain students in my students who would benefit from certain specific features of the program and also on myself and how that would have been rather helpful for me (especially when I was writing so many papers for my courses this past summer).

I can only really think that the cost of making this program accessible to all our students must be so prohibitive. However, I wonder what would be truly possible for our students if we were able to embrace technology.

SPEECH INPUT - This feature links MicroSoft Office with voice recognition speech-to-text in documents. Check to see if the microphone is in the correct position by using the wizard. This takes you through a step-by-step process. It is recommended that you do a lot of training to ensure that your speech will be as accurate as possible. Using the speech recognition feature, simply speak what you want to write and the text will be placed in a document.

PDF ALOUD -  If you open a PDF file using Adobe 9, PDF Aloud opens automatically. However, using Adobe 10, you need to select the PDF Aloud toolbar and open "Options" to access this feature. The PDF Aloud feature gives you options to play, rewind, forward, and stop text being read aloud. In the "Click and Speech" option, you can click a picture and text will be read aloud. You can choose having a word, sentence, or paragraph being read to you. You can also select the type of voice (pitch, speech, etc.) in the "Option" section. And you can also control the pronunciation of words.

TRANSLATION - Spanish, French, German, and Italian are options for documents (word, sentences, paragraphs, etc.) being translated. Click on the "Translation" icon and you can click on the word, etc. to hear the translation. You can click on "Preference" to change the language, colour, speed of voice, and font.

STUDY SKILLS AND VOCABULARY LIST BUILDER - This feature can be used both in Microsoft Word and Explorer. You have the options of using yellow, blue, green, or pink to highlight selected text. Perhaps the most exciting part of all of this is that you can collect the highlights that you have generated from your text and put them into a word document. You can also have the option to collect text from  multiple documents and put them in a word document.

Another exciting aspect of this feature is that you can create a vocabulary list by selecting any of the highlighted words. Using the vocabulary icon, the words that you have highlighted can be transferred to a document which will give a picture and definition of the words. This would be very helpful for teachers who have to create vocabulary lists or word banks for students for content material.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pronunciation Tutor

Video Tour of Pronunciation Tutor

  Pronunciation Tutor Icon Pronunciation Tutor: Shows how words are pronounced, will also show a moving mouth to show how it is pronounced. Can break words down into syllables so that it may be easier to pronounce. Will also give phonetics and other sample words.

Screen for Windows

Video Tour for Screen Masking
Screen Masking IconScreen Masking- Changes color of the screen. This can be adapted using several different options such as changing the color, transparency, alter thickness of underliner. Also gives a spotlight that will follow wherever your mouse goes. Can change the height of the spotlight.

Translator for Windows

Video Tour of Translator

Translator Icon      Translator-provides single word translation in many languages including German,French and Italian when connected to the internet. Just select the word you want translated. It can also read the word aloud in the given language. This tool will also translate paragraphs.

Speech Maker for Windows

This function allows the conversion of text to an audio file. The play back voice can be adjusted to suit the individual's needs. The feature is ideal for revising work at the end of the day on the way home from school. Once converted the audio file can be saved directly to the user's media player, e.g. MP3 player or iPod. You could convert text from a novel or magazine to listen to when relaxing or studying or you could even convert a script to audio format to help learn lines for a school play. Select a piece of text, then click icon to convert the text into a sound file. A little wizard will guide you through the conversion process.

Screenshot Reader for Windows

Most texts in any Windows application is easily accessible with Read&Write Gold and other assistive software. However, there are some programs which have not been designed with accessibility in mind. The Screenshot Reader removes the barriers in such documents. This means that the inaccessible text is now accessible. Click the icon and drag the mouse over any inaccessible text you wish to read, e.g. locked PDFs.

Text-to-Speech for Windows

The Text-to-Speech feature is one of the most fundamental support features in Read&Write 10 Gold. Text can be read as you type or from any document. It will read each word, sentence, paragraph or selected text. There is a choice of different voices which can be adjusted to suit you by altering the pitch, speed and volume. According to Texthelp, they have the most human-sounding voices (for whatever reason, I wasn't able to experience the different voices. The lovely Jane was all I was able to hear). You can choose the way the text is highlighted. Text can be colour highlighted in the document. By hearing your work aloud you will be able to identify mistakes in punctuation, spelling and meaning. Simply place the cursor where you wish the text to be spoken. Click the play icon to hear it aloud. If on a website, highlight the text first.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fact Mapping, Screen Masking, Translator, and Study Skills Tools for Mac

As I was exploring these options I kept thinking to myself, "Why wasn't this around when I was in school?"

FACT MAPPING - This is a particularly useful tool to help students create, revise and draft documents. Similar to graphic organizers, this tool helps you to organize your thoughts. However, the fact mapping tool is so much more interactive as you can connect to on-line documents, etc. and incorporate material into your document. Also, you can export your page to a web page to be shared with others.

SCREEN MASKING - By clicking on the icon you can tint the screen and show small sections (even as small as one line) to "mask" the remainder of a document. This enables the viewer to focus on small portions of a document without being overwhelmed or distracted by other text features or the enormity of the written material. By clicking on the icon and the preferences section you can adjust the transparency of the masking and the height of the section that is being displayed.

TRANSLATOR - By clicking on the icon a student can highlight a word that can be translated into Spanish, French, German, or Italian. This is particularly helpful to E.S.L. students who are able to quickly translate words. When hovering over a word, a student not only is able to get the translation of a word in their native tongue, but they are also able to hear it in their own language as well. Adjustments can be made accordingly in the "Preference" section.

STUDY SKILLS TUTOR - This feature allows students to self-select important information. Clicking the icon allows students to highlight the document using a possible choice of four colours (colour selection can be made through the "Preference" section). In addition to highlighting text, students can also extract text that has been previously highlighted into a separate word document. To do so, click the "collect text" button, highlight the text, collect it and it can then be transferred to a word document.

Word Wizard and Verb Checker for Windows

Word Wizard allows you to select a word and the program will look for an alternative word or a synonym. It's a quick little thesaurus (I've used it a couple of times while writing these posts). You simply click the icon (wizard hat) and type in your word. The Verb Checker tool helps with the confusion surrounding verb tenses. The feature can look up a verb and check its past, present and future. The words can be read aloud. All you have to do is click the icon (verb book) and type in the verb you wish to check. Click Play to hear them aloud.

Sounds Like and Confusable Words for Windows

Quite a mouth full....This tool tackles words that sound the same or look the same (often my students get confused with "our", "hour" and "are"). This feature identifies like-sounding words and words which can be confused and provides audible definitions. The Same Sounding Words panel shows the list of words that can be confused. The definitions will help you pick the word you wish to use. Click the icon (little man) to identify confusing word. Definitions can be read aloud by clicking Play. Use the small arrow to open options.

Dictionary for Windows

This tool provides several definitions and sample sentences that can aid understanding. Click the icon (little book) when you have selected a word to look up in the dictionary. Alternatively, you can click the button before selecting a word, then type the word into the text box. Definitions can be read aloud by clicking the play button. There is also a picture dictionary. It shows images for a word selected. This tool would be great for struggling learners, or for that matter, lower elementary students who may not have the sophisticated language. Click on the picture dictionary icon and select a word. An image of the word will be displayed.

Word Prediction for Windows

This tool can enable the writer to develop writing skills by providing the tools to construct sentences with ease. The Word Prediction tool predicts the word that the writer might want to use next. Click the icon (crystal ball) to open or close the word prediction window. Start typing and words will be predicted. Use the small arrow to open the options.

Phonetic Spell Checker for Windows

The phonetic spell checker analyses and corrects mistakes. You can check as you type or wait to check at the end of your completed work. Any mistake will be identified and provide suggested corrections with the meanings. The spell checker can be read aloud. Click the icon when you have selected the text you wish to spell check. Press play on the main toolbar to read the dictionary definition aloud. Use the small arrow to open options.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Differences between PC and Mac

Hello there. I've noticed that there are some differences between the PC version and the Mac version of the program. For instance, there is a homophone checker in the Mac version and there doesn't seem to be one in the PC version. Also, there is a calculator in the PC version and not in the Mac. Any thoughts on this?

I spoke with Adele last night and she noticed in the Mac version that the highlighter trailed after the words were said. Do either of you notice this in the PC version? Yes it trails after too.


The windows version has a homophone checker but it is called sounds like and confusable words.  Kari
Yes the highlighter  trails after the words too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PDF Aloud for Windows

Video Tour of  PDF Aloud

PDF Aloud will read any PDF file, can rewind and play etc. In some cases it will automatically begin when opening up a PDF file. It can read by word, sentence and paragraph.

Fact Folder and Fact Mapper and Fact Finder for Windows

These three tools would be great addition to any class from upper elementary to university. Organizing writing assignments especially research projects would be much easier with these tools.

Fact Folder IconVideo Tour of Fact Folder

The Fact Folder Tool Can be used to collect info such as URL’s. Just highlight and click on the folder. It will give date author and source. Facts can be placed into categories. Can place images in the fact folder as well. Would be a great tool when writing papers. Would help keep students organized.

 you organize your facts. Acts as a graphic organizer. You can add images from various categories. You can view your facts in different arrangement

Fact Finder IconVideo Tour of Fact Finder

Using the links provided or adding your own you can search any topic you wish. A teacher would be able to add the search engines that the students should use.

Daisy Reader for Windows

Video Tour of Daisy Reader

Daisy Reader Will read any daisy book that is on your computer. You can move to specific sections. Gives you the option to bookmark a page. Can save bookmarks under different names. Will search for specific words or phrases in the book. Can change font and size as well as color to customize screens to a specific reader.

Read&Write 4 Gold for Mac. The first nine features.

Adele here on Read&Write 4 Gold for Mac
(Doesn't that strike you as an unfortunate clump of words for someone with reading and writing difficulties?)

Video tour of Tool Bar
The cool thing about the R&W tool bar is this: it can "float" around in other programs. So you're somehow in two programs at the same time. No, not like having more than one window or tab open. They are both open at the same time in the same screen. This can be rather annoying when one is a grad student flicking from R&W to Preview to NeoOffice to Firefox and so on, but you get used to it. If you are staying in one program, it's really not a problem.
 The Tool Bar can also work independently outside another program. Click on the button, and a word processing space appears below the Tool Bar.

The tool bar is infinitely customizable. Unfortunately for me, who can read, but has bad eyes, I can't really see those little icons. But your kids will be able to.

Text to Speech
The totally cool part.

Video tour of Text to Speech.
Read to me! Use these buttons to turn your written text into an audio recording. Choose your voice, speed, pitch. Read by the letter, word, sentence or paragraph. Watch those letters, words, sentences and paragraphs get highlighted for you in jewel tones! Or customize to choose your own colours. Plus, you can teach it to pronounce proper names correctly, in case of disagreement.

Phonetic Spell Checker

Video tour of Phonetic Spell Checker
The Windows version is a plain-old spell-checker. Hmmmm....

Rather like your regular old spell-checker, except it answers the perennial question--if you can't spell it, how do you know which is the correct spelling? This Spell Checker not only points out possible errors, it provides suggested correct words which it will read aloud to you. If you're still not sure, it will provide definitions of the suggestions, which it will also read aloud to you! If, however, you are pronouncing things wrong, you may be out of luck. It did not offer me the possibility of "predict" when I typed "perdik," which I'm sure many students would do.

Word Prediction

Video tour of Word Predict

Word Predict is the way cool writing feature. As you start typing, you are offered suggestions for possible words. The choices are narrowed for each letter you type. Much like the Spell Checker, you can hear the suggestions, and see and hear definitions of them.

You can also add your own words. Astonishingly enough, "Megann" is not defined in the dictionary.


 Video tour of Dictionary.

Besides being part of other features such as Word Predict and Spell Checker, the Dictionary can also be used on its own. As you might expect there is a thesaurus function, but it provides not only synonyms, but other related information, such as antonyms, phrases, parts, types. You can also add definitions, and when connected to the Internet, you are linked to

No idea what inspired me to choose this word.

Homophone Checker

Video tour of Homophone Checker for Mac.

Once students have used the other tools to provide them with the right-sounding words with their correct spellings, they can check to see if they have incorrectly used homophones. When the Homophone Checker is selected, any possible homophones are highlighted. For each one, students can check the definitions and sample sentences to ensure they select the correct word. Customizing allows you to ignore some homophones, which is handy if you don't want to check every "the" that you type.

Screenshot Reader

Video tour for Screenshot Reader.

Screenshot Reader provides access to non-text text. No, really. Let's say you have something that looks like text, but is actually an image, Screenshot Reader can access it for you. In other words, if Text to Speech, PDF Aloud or Read Safari Web Content are not working for you, Screenshot Reader is your last resort. This should be especially handy with non-searchable PDF documents and other graphic formats, like JPEGs.

Given the myriad of obscure file formats, silly fonts, ill-chosen colours, irritating wallpaper, over-imaginative logos--ETC--out there, I can't imagine that this feature will always work.

Check out the JPEG below. Open Read&Write and click on the button.

Speech Maker

Video tour of Speech Maker
You can use Speech Maker to create audio files in MP3 format. Click here on this button. Choose the voice, volume and speed. Now your students can listen to Vicky read their documents  over and over! For the Mac version at least, you need to have iTunes on your computer in order to convert the files.


Video tour of Scanning.

Read&Write provides a number of tools for accessing difficult-to-access text. Like Screen Shot Reader, PDFaloud, and Read Safari Web Content, Scanning is one of these tools. Scanning allows students to take a book or worksheet, scan it, and have it read aloud.

Select your options from the Tool menu, and then click .