Immersive Reader in Microsoft Office

I am consistently stunned at the features in Immersive Reader, a platform offered by Microsoft Office and Office 365 that has been proven to improve reading comprehension, word recognition, and fluency. I typically use it within OneNote, especially given its integration with OneNote Class Notebook, but it can also be used with Microsoft Word as well. It has quickly become one of my favorite platforms due to just how versatile it is. Immersive Reader contains tools such as:

  • Read Aloud—Read Aloud literally reads text out loud to students. You can even adjust the speed and the tone of voice of the read aloud.
  • Parts of Speech—Identifies verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs in virtual text AND you can change each part of speech to a different color if you so choose.
  • Spacing—With Spacing, both you and your students can change font spacing to your preferred view to potentially narrow crowding on a virtual document.
  • Syllables—This is a favorite of mine—syllables are broken down within words syllables to enhance word recognition and decoding.

Parts of Speech

Today we are here to talk about Parts of Speech. When I was in the classroom as a math and science teacher—and now that I am a coach—I’m noticing that understanding vocabulary and using vocabulary properly is still a struggle for students. This has only been amped up with virtual learning in some schools and districts: direct support with vocabulary is now offered remotely instead of face to face. I got a question not too long ago about how to help students with vocabulary retention and understanding how to weave vocabulary into class content, and I suggested Immersive Reader as a tool that could help.

Here are the steps to use Read Aloud, specifically in OneNote:

  1. For OneNote for Windows 10, Mac, or iPad, open OneNote, then select View > Immersive Reader. This is typically what I do, and it superimposes my text directly from OneNote into Immersive Reader. Very simple to use and it is also simple to navigate. If I want to go back to OneNote at any time all I have to do is click the arrow in the top left corner and it gets me back. (Side note: for OneNote within a web browswer, go to OneNote.com, open a notebook, then select View > Immersive Reader. It’ll take you to the same place.)
  2. Once you’re in Immersive Reader, to get to Parts of Speech you select the icon that looks like three books on the side bar to the right. It is located in between the font symbol with the two A’s and the open book symbol. 
  3. This is where it gets fun—you get to choose what to highlight and what you want to emphasize for your students (as well as what they’d like to emphasize as well)! Under Parts of Speech, turn on nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs (or perhaps all four!) to highlight every noun, verb, or adjective on the page in a color that corresponds to the color of the label. If you’d like adverbs, that option is there as well. You can also change the color of the parts of speech. Syllables are automatically turned on in Immersive Reader so feel free to leave them on or you can turn them off if you want.

The possibilities to leverage this tool to help students are endless, especially in subjects and coursework that rely heavily on vocabulary. In the past I’ve used it in math to break down word problems and story problems—at times, students get so caught up in the words that it becomes difficult to solve the math problem. I have also used this in STEM, particularly with science, to show the intersectionality between ELA and science. Words and parts of speech are not just here for our vanity, they define what we do and the vocabulary what we learn! The obvious ELA connection is to teach students parts of speech and how they relate to sentences and text as a whole. If you’re interested in Immersive Reader, definitely give it a try—especially if you have students that struggle with reading fluency and reading comprehension.

About the Author

The possibilities to leverage this tool to help students are endless, especially in subjects and coursework that rely heavily on vocabulary.
@VictoriaTheTech

Victoria Thompson is a STEM Integration Transformation Coach at Technology Access Foundation–a nonprofit leader redefining STEM education in public schools–and a consultant for Ignite EdTech. She has been in education for five years and began her journey teaching fifth and sixth grade math and science in Summerville, SC. After completing her masters degree in curriculum and instruction she moved to the Seattle, WA area in 2018, where her career has pivoted to focusing on STEM integration in schools, K-12 mathematics instruction with research on decolonizing mathematics curriculum for teachers and learners, creating inclusive math environments, and using technology to bridge equity gaps in math education.

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