Google Owns Me


I’m a devotee of all things google, but sometimes it does scare me just how on they can be. Whether they’re anticipating or creating a need, they seem to be almost prescient in their ability to create cool applications. Once again they come through, but this time on the literacy front. Free Technology for Teachers (great blog, by the way) recently posted that google docs will assign a reading level to any document opened in the application. All you have to do is use the “Word Count” tool and the results provide three different gauges of reading level (Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, and Automated Readability Index).

While Free Technology for Teachers envisions it as a way to gauge the readibility of handouts and letters to parents or students, I see a few other possibilities:

  • In my literacy work, I struggle to come up with differentiated passages for students . Now, I can easily create and rate a passage, tinkering with it to create several different versions.
  • Another possibility would be to use it for leveling books by typing in sample passages from a book then checking where the sample falls on the scale.
  • A fellow teacher suggested using it for a snapshot of student writing assessment, just to quickly gauge where students are with word choice and syntax.

Anyone have other ideas?


5 thoughts on “Google Owns Me

  1. I tried this immediately with the only doc I had loaded in Google (Hello, I’m behind. I know). Wow! This is really interesting. I will keep playing with it. At first thought, if you know that the students are writing at a certain level, would you check your own docs to be sure that you’re not writing over their heads for assignments, feedback, etc. or make them rise to? I’m sure it’s not that cut and dry but for me this may be used as an audience gauge.

  2. Yeah, that’s the idea that Free Tech has as well. Also for letters home to parents, to make sure that they’re on a proper level (about 8th grade is where most comfort literacy exists and what newspapers shoot for, supposedly).

    In non profit work, I could definitely see it being useful when doing press releases and such as well.

  3. MS Word 2003 has a similar feature. From the help menu:

    Display readability statistics

    On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Spelling & Grammar tab.
    Select the Check grammar with spelling check box.
    Select the Show readability statistics check box, and then click OK.
    On the Standard toolbar (toolbar: A bar with buttons and options that you use to carry out commands. To display a toolbar, press ALT and then SHIFT+F10.), click Spelling and Grammar .
    When Microsoft Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it displays information about the reading level of the document.

    1. Thanks, Chuck. I had a sneaking suspicion that word likely had similar features, but I’d never found it before. Appreciate the information.

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