For the past few years I have been introducing students, teachers and parents to a toolkit of resources assembled to help students use search engines that match their learning styles. One of the most popular tools in my toolkit has been Twurdy, a simple search engine that displays results by readability. Unfortunately, it appears as though Twurdy has gone off the grid at this point in time. I cannot find this beloved tool.
In response to numerous email messages and tweets, I decided to look for a search engine similar to Twurdy; however, I am unable to find one. The the two tools I can suggest for helping students find leveled text are Google Advanced Search and Wikipedia Simple English.
Google Advanced Search – Search by Reading Level
Students can use the Google Advanced Search feature to find results that are categorized into three reading levels. Once a search is completed, uses can toggle the results to display basic, intermediate and advanced reading levels.
The Google Advanced Search option has been around for quite some time, but because it is a Google tool, the point of access is always changing. Here is a snapshot to illustrate where to find Search by Reading Level when using Google at the present time.
Wikipedia Simple English
One of the languages supported by Wikipedia is “Simple English”. Choose it to find information written using simpler words and simple sentences, which lowers the readability level. Learn how to find Simple English by watching this quick video tutorial.
One of my favorite tools to share with students and teachers is Readability. This handy bookmarklet tool scrubs webpages clean of distractions by eliminating the ads and creating a more readable version of digital text. By itself, it’s a really useful tool for students, but when combined with Google Docs, it can be part of an effective and efficient method for taking digital notes.
It’s important to note that the strategy offered here is not meant to replace traditional methods of note-taking. Rather, it is meant to be one of many note-taking strategies that can be introduced to students throughout the year as they engage in frequent everyday research experiences. If the goal of research is to find information, use it and properly cite sources, then introducing students to multiple strategies and allowing them to take flexible learning paths will help them become independent researchers and life long learners. Risk Free Ways to Try Digital Notes:
Content related article reviews
Sharing current events
Preparing a script for a podcast or narrated slideshow
The slideshow below provides step-by-step directions for combining Readability with Google Docs to take Digital Notes. How To Combine Google Docs and Readability for Digital Note-Taking
Twurdy is a Google powered search tool that displays results at appropriate readability levels. Just enter a search term to get color-coded results which determine how easy the page will be to understand. This is certainly a useful tool to help all learners succeed and also a good tool to add to any teacher’s toolkit of resources.
If you think the name of this search engine will be difficult to remember, perhaps knowing that it was derived from a play on words, “Too Wordy?”, will help you remember it.