Apr 23, 2013

Hidden Revision Tool in Microsoft Word

Maybe it isn't hidden to you, but I was simply thrilled and shocked to find out that this tool had been sitting there waiting on me to use it all these years!

Flesch Kincaid is a readability tool that allows you to assess a document’s readability by giving you a reading ease and a grade level score of the text.  It simply needs to be selected within the program.  You can find the technical information about the tool here. 

The very first time I introduced this tool to my fifth graders, I modeled a very basic essay and intentionally typed short simple sentences using very simple words and projected it onto our Smartboard as I typed.  They laughed at my poor essay. :)  I then had them guess the grade level that FK would give it.  I believe on our first attempt we got a grade level score of 2.1. 

We then discussed all the different ways we could “grow up” our essay and began making revisions together.  They decided we needed conjunctions to vary our sentence structure.  We needed synonyms to help us use more vivid words, and needed more details to increase the word count.  The suggestions were pouring out of them.  They were more excited and more motivated to revise than ever before.  On our second FK check, we ended up with 11.2!  They class cheered for their essay and I wanted to for their motivation!  I'm not certain about the accuracy of the level, but I am certain that they would have done anything to get that particular level to go up, and I am certain that anything that motivates them to improve their work is something I want to use...A LOT! :)

We now run what we refer to as, “an FK” on all of our typed work and the kids strive to get the score as high as possibleThey love using this tool over and over again during the revision step of the writing process and I love the work the produce by using it!  We even add the FK score to the bottom of all our typed work as a form of “bragging rights!” :)  I even refer to the “FK” when they are hand-wring a piece, simply asking what FK do they think they would get for the piece, and how could they make that score higher.

Here’s how to set it up.

Step 1 and Step 2 ~ Click the Review tab and then the drop down menu from the Language icon.

 Step 3 ~ Select Language Preferences

 Step 4 and Step 5 ~ Select Proofing and then check the Show Readability statistics box

You are then all set to run a Flesch Kincaid Readability Test!

Step 6 and Step 7 ~ After your students have typed their documents, they simply need to click the review tab and select the Spelling & Grammar icon.  The Readability Statistics box will pop up with the following information.

I hope you can use this tool in your classrooms.  I am sure you can think of other uses for it, but it has truly been a game changer in the revision process for us!

Do you know of any tools that other teachers might be overlooking or simply haven’t been introduced to yet?  Please, please share those with us in the comments below.  If I have been overlooking this great tool all these years, I just know there is something else out there waiting for me to find it!  Also, feel free to follow me, and if you are a blogger, leave a link in a comment below and I'm come over and follow you as well.  :)  The bigger our Professional Learning Network, the more we can continue to be LIFELONG LEARNERS!  :)


  1. Wow! This is so cool!!! I have a couple of amazing writers in my class who do all of their creative writing on a computer. I've already taught them how to use Track Changes and Insert Comments for improving but this will be like the cherry on top!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    x Serena x
    Magic Mistakes & Mayhem

  2. Wow, what a great tool! I didn't even know that it existed! I'm a new follower! Thanks for the great tip!

  3. This is a phenomenal find!!! I tried it on my home computer and it didn't work (must have an older version of Word) but I will try it at school. I think the way you are using this tool is fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

    1. Hey, Jennifer! I just tried this out on my computer, too and I didn't have the same buttons. In the top right corner I had to click on the office button. Then there is a box that pops up. In the bottom right corner there is a Word Options button. After that you can follow the rest of the steps (check grammar with spelling must be selected for it to work). Hope that helps!

    2. Hi~ Thanks for helping out. I wonder why the buttons are different. Do you think it might be screen size? I got an email from Jennifer the next day and she had reset lots of the computers at her school, so she must have figured it out. It amazes me what a super nice community of teacher bloggers we have that are always looking out for each other. :) Thanks again. :) I hope you check back and see this. I tried to email you but you have your settings as a no-reply blogger. I'll try to track you down to say thanks. :)

  4. This is a great find! I'm excited to try this out! Thanks. I just found your blog and became a new follower! From another "long time" teacher.

    ✿ Shari
    Keeping It Fresh in 6th Grade

  5. Awesome find!! I'm so excited to try this tomorrow with my kids. You are brilliant.

    Crofts' Classroom

  6. Oh my gosh this is awesome! I may even try it with my second graders!

  7. Hi Brandee, I found this tool and few months ago, and now I use it all the time and love it! In fact, my son is in college, and I showed him how to use it to avoid the "passive voice" and to make sure his work is level appropriate. Now he's hooked too!
    Your blog is great!

  8. Love this! I learned this in my master's program and used it to help select a reading series using it. Never thought to use it for writing in the classroom. Fabulous!


  9. I can't wait to try this out with my kids! What a fantastic find!


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