Review by Ashley Kemper, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015

BeeLine Reader

Simple color-gradient tool for increased reading efficiency

Subjects & skills
  • Character & SEL

  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Great for:
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Pros: Simple, bright, effective tool for improving reading speed and comprehension.

Cons: Doesn't directly promote fluent phrasing when reading.

Bottom Line: A must-try tool to improve reading performance for all learners.

Teachers can add BeeLine Reader to student devices to allow them a different view of text while reading. Prompt students to click on the cog and choose their color scheme before engaging in long passages of text online. Teachers should also encourage students to use appropriate reading-comprehension strategies while using this tool: highlighting key words, important characters, or events and making personal connections to key details. Students should also engage in self-assessment measures, such as summarizing each passage they read, to ensure they're reading effectively and not simply following the color gradient along the page.

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BeeLine Reader is a Web extension that changes the color of regular text from black to a color gradient. It allows students to transition between lines quickly and effortlessly by easily transitioning from one colored line to the next, differently colored line. Users can turn this tool on and off depending on the site and change the colors (bright, dark, grays, or blues). Students simply click the BeeLine cog icon that pops up on a valid website to begin using the tool.

It also integrates with cloud readers, such as Amazon and OverDrive, giving students access to more text options than the reader's built-in features. Users can also copy and paste text into pasteboard on the BeeLine Reader website to apply the gradient without downloading the extension.

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The potential to increase reading speed and proficiency when using this Web extension, especially for struggling readers, makes it worth the try. The colors keep readers on track from line to line and are especially helpful when reading on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Readers are less likely to lose their place, since alternating lines are colored differently, giving the eye a visual landmark as it maneuvers through the text. Meanwhile, students should continue to incorporate self-assessments while reading to ensure comprehension as well as fluency.

According to the developer's own research, more than 90 percent of users report an increase in ease of reading when using the tool's color-gradient feature, but no formal research studies have been published demonstrating long-term gains. Give it a try and judge for yourself: This is a tool that will be a huge help to some kids, and it's worth a shot for helping build reluctant readers' fluency. 

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids may more easily engage with text-heavy websites by using Beeline Reader because of its incorporation of a color gradient.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The color gradient follows line setup and not sentence structure. These color changes let readers easily distinguish each line from the next, promoting more fluent reading of long passages.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Some instructional videos are available on the developer's website, but more guidance would help. Plus, it would be better if the tool worked with more sites.

Common Sense Reviewer
Ashley Kemper STEM Project Manager

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