App review by Cresta Kowalski, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2017
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Useful text-to-speech app and extension unlocks the written word

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Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, English-Language Learning, Communication & Collaboration

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Pros: Available on most platforms.

Cons: Costly if you're buying a single license for a classroom computer station.

Bottom Line: A valuable tool to make classroom use of websites and digital documents more accessible to all students.

Although Read&Write is marketed for students with literacy needs, all students can benefit from its features. The text-to-speech options can be used for students to listen to longer passages instead of reading them -- improving listening comprehension and allowing students to engage both auditory and visual senses. Talk&Type would allow students in a science lab to take notes and record observations orally, freeing up their hands to work on an experiment. The highlighter options can be used to support note-taking in any classroom; students can use the Read&Write toolbar to underline passages they find important on a website or while using iPad apps, or record voice notes as they browse. To develop their writing skills, students can build sentences using Read&Write's word prediction tool, and then work in groups to make highly developed sentences or a paragraph on a given topic.

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Read&Write is a literacy support tool available as software, an app, and even a browser extension. It's suite of 10 features was developed to encourage readers and writers -- especially those with special language or literacy needs (ELLs, students with dyslexia, etc.) -- to access texts and improve their skills. With Read&Write installed, students can listen to any passage (documents and webpages) with a line-by-line text-to-speech option or with a screenshot reader; or if they want to listen later, they can make an MP3 of the passage using the Audiomaker feature. To support understanding and comprehension, users can decode words in a passage using either a dictionary or picture dictionary. It also has a translator option to support understanding of foreign language words, as well as vocabulary builders. As students read a passage, they can use four different highlighters to note important information. The highlights can then be collected and gathered onto another document for safekeeping and reading by the text software. Students can practice reading aloud by highlighting a passage and then tapping the Practice Reading Aloud button. This prompts them to record themselves reading the text and use other features to improve fluency.

If writing is students' focus but they struggle with motor skills or have other issues, Read&Write offers a Talk&Type feature. With this feature, students can dictate their writing. In addition to composing paragraphs or essays, students can create a voice note for later review. A prediction feature helps students along while they're writing, offering suggested words. 

Read&Write lifts many barriers that impede student learning. This software offers a nice toolbox for teachers to choose from when supporting students' development of reading and writing skills, especially students with learning disabilities or language learners. There's a nice mix of features that increase accessibility and aid student productivity. It should be noted, however, that this tool is all function; there are no bells and whistles to keep students highly engaged, but at its core, Read&Write does what it intends to well. And by enabling students to develop their skills in ways more in sync with their abilities and across all of the web, students will likely feel empowered. Read&Write, for instance, provides an easy way for students to hear passages as well as dictate passages, lifting the barriers of reading fluency and writing for students with learning or language challenges. Since many students have higher listening comprehension than reading comprehension, Read&Write allows students to engage with higher-level texts than those at their typical independent reading level. This is a big benefit to both teachers and students, since textbooks are increasingly digital. The Practice Reading Aloud feature can be an excellent tool for students to independently improve their reading fluency. Beyond reading, Read&Write also enables students to use creative thinking and write at a level that's beyond their independent ability, through dictation and predictive text. Moreover, the recordings they create can be used as proof of their new skills. Overall, this extension and app -- while costly and designed mainly for function over form -- could be a great addition to just about any classroom.

Overall Rating


While it's not designed for engagement, students will still enjoy and feel empowered by how the features unlock the web and digital documents.


Supports equitable development of phonics, comprehension, and fluency skills alongside writing. Useful, flexible options -- like a standard dictionary and picture dictionary -- offer help to students of any ability.


This is a tool built for support, with a host of useful features that increase accessibility. Tech support is available through a help/support site and on a Google+ community through the developer's website.  

Common Sense reviewer
Cresta Kowalski Classroom teacher

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Fanny P. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
'"THE" solution for ALL teachers to "differentiate" and for students to be "self-differentiate"
I believe this tool really make all teachers empowered because they can differentiate better, promote personalized learning and encourage students to be more responsible, to make choices and therefore to be more empowered and true agent of their learning. The teachers and students can be creative, they can come up with really great ideas to use this tool beyond using it for support. I love the vocabulary building option when you highlight several words and it automatically creates a googledog with imag ...
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