Saturday, 23 April 2011

Determine Reading Age of Websites for your students

Early last year I wrote a blog post about how to analyse text and websites for reading age using Lexile Analyzer. It is a Lexile Text Measure based on two predictors, word frequency and sentence length, of how difficult a text is to comprehend.My tests showed it to be reasonably accurate, however the downside is that it is it not simple or quick to use.

One of the hardest tasks for me as a teacher is finding websites for my students that are at an appropriate reading age for them, especially when the range of those ages is large. Depending on your students reading and comprehension ability, it is usually better to provide website links for your students to visit, even when they are doing inquiry research.

Yesterday I discovered, via the blog The Daily Cafe, a  site called Twurdy; a play on the words "Too Wordy" but somehow reminds me of Disney's 'Tweety' bird (Tweety & Sylvesta). The web is becoming a bit of a flock!
Twurdy search engine (powered by Google)
analyses the text on each page, it displays the results of each page shaded with their peachy colour code system. I did find it a bit hard to distinuquish between the colour shades, yet I found the readability level key easy to read. Actually I enjoyed the Twurdy's simple design, pleasant colours and ease of use.

Although this site is much easier to use, you will need to have your ever present teacher judgement at hand. As you can see from the results above a Wikipedia page got a 8-10 age range (wrong) yet in another search Wikipedia rated 18+ (believable).
I choose the text from and used the Lexile Analyzer and Google Reading Levels to compare.

Lexile measures 1050L which is a reading age of approximatly 13 years old.

Google Reader Levels (found under 'More Search Tools' ) gives it an Intermediate Reading Level. I could not find a qualification for actual reading age. Intermediate in schooling usually refers to age 11-13 years old

Twurdy shows this website reading ages at around 15-18 years old.

Google Search 'reader levels' seem to be more reliable for now, although Twurdy is powered by Google they not not seem to use the same ranking system. 

Below is my screen-cast on how to use Google Search 'reader levels'. I would love to hear whether you use any of these websites and which you think are most effective.
Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

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